Member Spotlight: Dr Michelle Lim, Co Vice-Chair of the GILC Scientific Board
We spoke with Dr Michelle Lim, the inaugural co-director of GILC (2020-2022) and the current co-vice-chair of the GILC International Scientific Board, on the amazing work being done across Australia to address loneliness.
Can you share a little about yourself and your role?
I am currently the CEO of Ending Loneliness Together a national non-profit organisation committed to addressing loneliness and social isolation in Australians of all ages. I’m also a Senior Research Fellow, co-leading the newly established Social Health and Wellbeing Group at the School of Public Health, the University of Sydney.
I was the inaugural co-director of the Global Initiative on Loneliness and Connection (2020-2022). Currently, I am the co-vice-chair of the GILC International Scientific Board.
What motivated you to get involved in addressing loneliness?
My interest is on promoting social connection to prevent the onset of chronic loneliness and social isolation which is associated with physical and mental health disorders.
As a practising clinical psychologist who also delivers interventions, it’s clear that people come only when they are highly distressed and persistently lonely. I can see how their outcomes and situations could be better like if our society was designed and build in a way that facilitates meaningful social connection.
How is Ending Loneliness Together addressing loneliness in Australia?
Australia launched their first Loneliness Awareness Week this year in August 2023. The aim of this campaign is to increase community awareness of what loneliness is and is not. Our first theme is Lonely Not Alone. The launch of the campaign includes the State of the Nation Report 2023 on Social Connection in Australians.
In the first 7 days itself, our State of the Nation Report and Loneliness Awareness Week was mentioned 215 million times across Australian media outlets including radio, print, newspapers. This tells us that the community is engaged and interested to learn more. The success was unanticipated but also motivating for us to develop a more comprehensive campaign next year.
What do you think are the key priorities that will shape our efforts to address loneliness and social isolation globally?
This may differ from country to country but one key priority is to increase our evidence base on what we know about loneliness and social isolation to global practice and policy which can be contextualised and relevant to different countries.
What does being a member of GILC mean to you?
GILC brings together amazing leading organisations from around the world to learn and collaborate with each other. It reminds us in Australia, that we are not alone and we are part of a collective group facing both similar challenges and embarking on similar journeys.
Learning and hearing about what works and what doesn’t work allows our organisation to develop more innovative approaches to the way we do our work.
Stay tuned for more inspiring Member Spotlights as we celebrate the work being done across the world to tackle loneliness and promote social connection.