New program to boost social connections for seniors

09 Feb 2023

From device advice to help seniors stay safely connected online to active outdoor sessions, a new program designed to reduce isolation and loneliness among seniors was announced today by City of Newcastle.

The Connections for Ageing Well program will be delivered in partnership with Hunter Medical Research Institute and Hunter Ageing Alliance and has been awarded $47,200 in grant funding by the NSW Government’s Department of Communities and Justice.

The announcement was made today at a senior's expo and comedy gala at City Hall, delivered as part of NSW Seniors Festival 2023. Presented by CN and Comedy for a Cause, well-known comedian and recent Member of the Order of Australia recipient Jean Kitson headlined the comedy gala attended by more than 200 local senior citizens.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the Connections for Ageing Well program will focus on connecting seniors with community groups for sustainable relationships, with expert advice and skill building for ageing well, managing health and creating social connections.

"Our senior citizens make a significant contribution to our society and help to create a more inclusive and broader community here in Newcastle,” Cr Nelmes said.

“The needs of an ageing population also create a range of challenges, with many seniors in our community facing isolation and loneliness, especially in recent times as a direct result of COVID-19.

“Together with Hunter Medical Research Institute and Hunter Ageing Alliance, City of Newcastle is committed to delivering this vital program to combat isolation and loneliness with meaningful social connections for seniors, in line with CN’s draft Local Social Strategy 2023-2030.

“It’s these sorts of initiatives like today’s expo and comedy gala that strengthen social connections while playing a significant role in the mental health and wellbeing of seniors in our community.”

Emeritus Professor Julie Byles and chair at the Hunter Ageing Alliance (HAA) said the program will deliver positive physical, intellectual, and social outcomes for the region's ageing citizens.

"Connections provide opportunities to get out, meet other people, and to learn new skills for ageing well, stay active, social, and adapt positively to the changes of later life," Professor Byles said.

In addition to the program providing multiple benefits for older people, Head of Philanthropy Giavanna Angeli at Hunter Medical Research Institute said important research will be gathered.

"The program will also inform research on successful activities and programs that support social connectedness amongst older people and improve their wellbeing," Dr Angeli said.

"HMRI is looking forward to working with City of Newcastle and Hunter Ageing Alliance to deliver a successful project that brings benefits to a vulnerable group in our community.”

Seniors can also make the most of the annual Newcastle Seniors Directory online, with targeted information about services and community-based organisations who connect with older Novocastrians.

During NSW Seniors Festival 2023, which reaches up to 500,000 seniors each year, government, community and commercial organisations hold hundreds of events across the state. Full details for all local events can be found online at