Challenge: social isolation

Challenge statement 

How might we, as a city, better connect Brisbane's communities who are potentially excluded or isolated so that Brisbane is a more inclusive city where everyone has people and places to connect to? 

Brisbane is a city of strong and diverse communities. We show friendship and caring by helping others. We welcome new residents, migrants, students and visitors, celebrate cultural diversity, and provide support to people who are disadvantaged. We care about each other’s safety and wellbeing. 

Social connection is fundamental to building and maintaining strong communities. Not only does it contribute to our sense of contentment and wellbeing, it also builds resilience. Strong relationships with friends, family, colleagues and neighbours help create a buffer against the challenges and experiences of everyday life, and provide a team to notice and celebrate our highs and achievements.

Council is committed to fostering collaboration within industry, academia and the community to ensure Brisbane maintains its world-class healthy communities in the face of growing social isolation. 

Background to the problem

When we lack meaningful social connection we can become lonely. Loneliness strikes different people at different times for seemingly different reasons. Sometimes it is not being physically close to other people or a particular person. Other times people can be lonely even when surrounded by others, because they lack genuine connection. While often temporary, loneliness can linger and become a serious threat to our physical and mental health. 

In Australia:  

  • more than 65% of people ‘often felt lonely’ 
  • one third of the people said they did not have anyone to confide in about their loneliness 
  • one in four women and one in three men reported that they did not have someone to help them if in need. 

(Source: Families Australia)

Groups that are most commonly identified as being vulnerable to, or most at risk of, social isolation include seniors, young people, people with a disability, LGBTIQ* people, culturally and linguistically diverse people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. (Source: Queensland Government).

*Lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, intersex, queer. 

The following have been shown to overcome social isolation:

  • eating right: engage in a healthy diet
  • move: exercise regularly
  • going out: attending social functions, visiting friends, exercising, doing the shopping or even just going to a public place can help 
  • family and friends: making new friends or re-connecting with those you have lost touch with 
  • community: starting a new hobby, class, joining a club are ways to make new connections 
  • volunteer: through helping others you can feel more connected 
  • animals: getting a pet or fostering an animal can reduce feelings of social isolation.

(Source: Queensland Government)

A key challenge to addressing social isolation is implementing lasting systematic connectivity between existing services to reduce duplication and ensure comprehensive coverage. Alternative models to the traditional government funding are also required.

Council initiatives

Our vision is for a city where residents of all ages, abilities, health and cultures find it easy to meet in public spaces and feel welcomed and included. 

To achieve this, Council delivers a wide range of services including: 


As part of our vision for a Smart, Connected Brisbane, Council releases open data to the public to encourage civic innovation. To find out what datasets are available that may help to solve this challenge, visit Council's Open Data website.

Last updated:2 May 2019