A new report from the Community Broadcasting Foundation, shows that participation in community radio can significantly reduce social isolation and loneliness.
The Joy of Social Connection, researched by Murdoch University on behalf of the CBF, states that three groups are more likely to be lonely in Australia; men, isolated parents with young children and people living alone. The report further highlights that community broadcasting can support the reduction of loneliness in three key ways: by reducing the stigma of being lonely, connecting people across communities and increasing volunteering.
More than five million Australians listen to community radio each week, and 23,000 people volunteer at community stations.
“With around a third of Australians experiencing loneliness at some time, it is a growing issue with a serious social cost,” said Jo Curtin, Executive Officer of the Community Broadcasting Foundation. “The research found that with such a big reach, community broadcasting is perfectly placed to tackle the far-reaching social issue of loneliness.
“With more than 450 stations in metro, rural and remote locations covering all types of demographics, community radio has a special ability to socially connect and support listeners and volunteers alike.”
“Two million Australians live alone and research shows they are twice as likely to experience loneliness as those in multiple person households.
“Community radio can provide company to isolated listeners, helping maintain a connection to the outside world. It also helps reduce isolation associated with ethnicity and minority groups.”
For volunteer Catherine Chadwick, ten years struggling with a severe health issue and numerous surgeries led her to resign from her job and a long struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts.
“Even though my parents were incredibly patient and supportive I felt that no-one understood what I was going through,” Catherine said. “I felt really alone… and lonely.”
A chance meeting with Bill Livingston, from 3WBC community radio station in Melbourne changed everything. Bill convinced her to do an interview about a guitar instruction book she’d written, eventually encouraging her to co-host a music show with him. Catherine trained as a radio host, and has presented Community Corner, a two-hour program of local events and activities for the past ten years.
“If other people knew how much my life has changed since becoming involved in community radio they would jump at the chance of joining,” she said. “I feel so blessed that 3WBC came in to my life.”
Research shows loneliness has severe health effects, with lonely people experiencing higher levels of depression, drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide. It is also linked to a 30 per cent increase in the risk of heart disease and stroke.