Ending Loneliness Together Partners with Medibank

21 March 2022


Working Together to Address Loneliness in Australia

“There’s a propensity in society to point to the individual and say the burden is on them to seek help. We need to think about loneliness as a collective, where we all have a part to play.”

Ending Loneliness Together is thrilled to announce our latest official partnership with Medibank.

Medibank is a health company that supports 3.7 million people in Australia to better manage their health and wellbeing. One of the leading private health insurers in Australia, Medibank is focused on providing people with more choice, access and control of their healthcare and helping transform Australia’s healthcare system to ensure it can remain sustainable.

Karen Oldaker is the Senior Executive, Wellbeing and Community and says Medibank is working on a long-term approach to help address loneliness as one of the most critical social, health, and economic concerns here in Australia and around the world.

“As a healthcare company, we’re increasingly focused on preventative health as we work to better support the health and wellbeing of our customers, our employees, and the broader community,” she said.

“A couple of years ago we began looking at health issues where we could provide a longer-term, strategic focus to drive meaningful social impact in an area of unmet need. When we landed on loneliness, we realised there were a lot of conversations happening in other areas of health and wellbeing, but that loneliness was largely hidden. By taking a preventative health approach and trying to address the issue of loneliness earlier, we might be able to minimise the potential for chronic loneliness leading to physical and mental health conditions down the track.””

Beginning on their journey to understand loneliness well before the onset of COVID-19, Karen admits the timing of the pandemic was ironic; creating a platform to discuss loneliness that hadn’t existed prior.

Championing Collaborative Research

The partnership between Medibank and Ending Loneliness Together is a strategic one, grounded in a mutual commitment to effectively address loneliness in Australia using evidence-based practice and policy.

Ending Loneliness Together’s Chair and Scientific Chair, Dr Michelle Lim, welcomes the partnership with Medibank and the opportunities it presents.

“This partnership bolsters our ability to work collaboratively to improve practice and policy to better support the development and maintenance of meaningful social connections for all Australians.”

Over the course of Medibank’s own research into loneliness, Karen realised the drive to understand loneliness came from a personal, as well as professional, place.

“My mum was incredibly lonely. Looking back, I really didn’t understand what it was. I remember thinking that she should get out more, that she should try harder,” she said.

“There’s a propensity in society to point to the individual and say the burden is on them to seek help. We need to think about loneliness as a collective, where we all have a part to play. Because if we don’t, then it’s just like mum – she was never going to be able to go out and do the things that I expected her to.”

Making Loneliness a National Priority

Medibank has committed to building a 10-year plan to address this growing health concern. “A decade is a long time. We really hope we can make a positive, lasting impact to the overall health and wellbeing of people in Australia,” said Karen.

“Our partnership with Ending Loneliness Together is really important to us. The community that Ending Loneliness Together brings – in terms of corporates, experts, universities, and government – is necessary to make a coordinated change,” said Karen.

For Karen, Ending Loneliness Together’s connection to the Global Initiative on Loneliness and Connection is a bonus.

“We’re all in this journey together. We need to normalise conversations, to let loneliness in.”

We Are Lonely Podcast

We Are Lonely is a collaboration between Myf Warhurst, Dr Frederic Kiernan and Medibank that seeks to demystify loneliness by revealing it in iconic music, film, and art. Listen to their latest episode here.