Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (18:00): My adjournment matter tonight is for the Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers.
Recently I have spoken to neighbourhood houses in my electorate to better understand the broader issues in the community. I was surprised to find no matter who I spoke to there was one issue that kept being brought up and at the coalface our support workers are seeing a worrying decline in the mental health of our older population.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen a new light shone on mental health. A lot of people have been struggling due to the lockdown, financial struggles and pandemic anxiety. However, the resources and funding provided to address these issues have failed to effectively address the mental health of our senior population. The boots on the ground have informed me that despite our COVID normal way of living it remains incredibly difficult to get seniors out and about and engaging with the rest of the community.
Seniors are feeling isolated and anxious and do not have easily accessible mental health resources tailored to their needs. I have even heard that for some, QR codes can be stressful enough to process, with many not having access to the right type of technology or having never been taught how to use it, leading to some seniors staying at home to avoid the embarrassment and confusion. Some support workers have reported this was enough for some seniors to not enrol in their usual classes.
Rod asked the government to work with the Kerrimuir Neighbourhood House to introduce the social prescription to Victoria and better utilise our existing comm…
We have seen lots of resources become available for young people—rightly so—providing online chat services and video calls. The same tailored resources have not become available for seniors, who often struggle with technology. The Kerrimuir Neighbourhood House has a solution to this pressing issue. They are in the process of introducing something called a social prescription, an idea that has taken off in the United Kingdom. The concept of a social prescription is based on the idea that doctors and allied health practitioners can assess an individual as experiencing social isolation and loneliness, and then refer the individual to a local community house where they can connect with others.
This seems like a no-brainer.
We know how isolating and lonely suffering from mental health issues can be. When the general health and wellbeing of our elderly population declines, this places pressure on younger generations and affects the entire community. If we have a system in place to get these individuals to support resources that already exist in the community and are already funded by the government, we can help many gain the confidence to re-engage with the community.
Therefore the action I am asking the minister to take is: will the government work with the Kerrimuir Neighbourhood House to introduce social prescription to Victoria and better utilise our existing community resources to address the mental health of our senior population?