Recently in research, media, reports and even Royal Commissions, the authors have recommended community as a cure to the problems identified.
Community as the cure
The report into ageism by the World Health Organisation recommends investing in intergenerational communities that foster relationships between people of all ages saying, “Intergenerational contact interventions are among the most effective interventions to reduce ageism against older people, and they also show promise for reducing ageism against younger people.”[i]
A year after the death of Ann Marie Smith, people with disability and disability advocates reflect that the system has not changed. A person living with disability said, “We have to talk [to] people out there — not only the agencies, not only the government – our neighbours, our friends need to know.”[ii] An MP suggests a simple strategy would be to create a government-funded community visitor scheme.[iii]
The Chair and Executive Director of ‘Lived Experience Australia’ which represents consumers and families in mental health, comments people living with mental health concerns are disengaging from mental health support, noting that this is not just due to problems with the support being provided, but a key factor that carers have noted is the lack of meaningful linkage to community.[iv]
Faith communities build an individual’s gifts and strengths and foster relationships to create a multi-generational community. People from churches can connect with their local community as neighbours and friends. They can reduce discrimination and promote connection by ensuring people with disability are able to join in community life and that they are receiving care that accords with the person’s wishes. Churches can provide meaningful links to community and support recovery for people living with mental health issues.
The church meets voluntarily and regularly – all year round, with people across the lifespan, from all abilities and races, encouraging selfless activity and promoting hope. There is no other group that does this within our society other than the church, making it God’s ultimate answer for personal and community health.
God wants us to break down barriers that stop us from sharing generously, giving and receiving, partaking and participating. A person enters the faith community as an individual but through Jesus Christ we experience communion and relationship – being together, belonging to one another, and to God through Jesus Christ.
Blessings as you continue to provide and promote community…
Joanna, Anne, Rachael and Vicky
[i] World Health Organisation, ‘Global report on ageism: executive summary’, WHO, Geneva, 2021, page 3, viewed 8 April 2021 https://www.who.int/teams/social-determinants-of-health/demographic-change-and-healthy-ageing/combatting-ageism/global-report-on-ageism
[ii] ABC Radio Adelaide ‘Woman living with a disability speaks out one year on from Ann Marie Smith’s death’, viewed 8 April 2021, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-06/woman-living-with-disability-speaks-out/100050204?mc_cid=399641114c&mc_eid=c65671fff8
[iv] Janine McMahon, ‘From the Chair and Executive Director’, Lived Experience Australia, eNews Alert, 7 April 2021