By Oliver Lees
Macedon Ranges council will receive $330,000 over the next three years to help foster better social and community connections among older residents in the shire.
The Village Hub Grants fund is an initiative of the federal government and the Independent Living Assessment (ILA).
The ILA has committed to building partnerships with Macedon Ranges council and nine other organisations to help deliver the program.
Macedon Ranges council healthy ageing engagement team leader Stephanie Harper said the village hub concept will have two components: online social interaction and outreach in order to connect people to existing services.
“Social isolation can be an issue for some older people because, given that retirement is such a big transition,” Ms Harper said.
“You can lose a lot of connections when you retire, or if a spouse dies, or you don’t have access to a car anymore.
“Rather than creating new services, [the village hub] is more about connecting people to what’s available and to services they might not know exists.”
According to Macedon Ranges council’s positive ageing plan, 19.7 per cent of the shire’s population will be aged 65 and over by 2026.
Ms Harper said the dispersed nature of the towns in the Macedon Ranges makes it an area where people can often be isolated from the people or services they require.
The funding will help council to employ a dedicated staff member, who will facilitate outreach and help older residents connect online.
ILA general manager Andrea Morris said the ILA will focus on guiding each community as their hub is established.
“One in four Australian households is a lone-person household and there is a high proportion of these people who are aged 55 years and over who report loneliness and/or social isolation,” Ms Morris said.
“We are really looking forward to working with each of the new Village Hubs to establish a place where older community members can reconnect, meet new people, have fun and socialise, join in activities they may never have tried and ultimately feel less lonely and more connected.”
Details: 5422 0333.