Despite being increasingly connected in the digital space, the latest Australian Unity Wellbeing Index survey has found that our feeling of community connectiveness is at its lowest in 21 years.
For over two decades, the collaboration between Deakin University and Australian Unity, called the Personal wellbeing Index, has provided valuable insights into our overall satisfaction with life. While the composite measure of personal wellbeing has remained relatively stable, the aspect of community consecutiveness has experienced a significant decline since 2016, with scores dropping from 73.2 to 68.23.
This decline calls for reevaluating how we foster community engagement and build social bonds. Fortunately, local libraries have long stood as centres of community consecutiveness. A place for parents to meet their ‘tribe’, socialise at events such as Storytime and Rhymetime, and enjoy all the school holiday activities and adult programming on offer.
If you are new to the area or need information, the library is still one of the best places to connect families to services, and you will always find a welcoming space that fosters a sense of belonging to the new community.
Libraries are not mere knowledge repositories but are pivotal in promoting inclusivity and equity within our communities. They are accessible to all, regardless of socioeconomic status, background or age. Providing a level playing field where individuals can access educational resources and information. For those lacking internet access or unable to afford books, toys and movies, libraries become invaluable refuges, offering free access to play, literacy, and entertainment.
Adapting to the digital age, libraries have embraced technology to expand their reach and connect with community members beyond their physical spaces. Online platforms, virtual events, and e-book lending services have transformed libraries into community connectors, enabling individuals to access resources and participate in programs from their homes. This hybrid approach ensures libraries remain relevant and accessible, even in an ever-evolving world.
As we navigate an increasingly interconnected yet isolating society, we must recognise and celebrate the pivotal role that local libraries play in fostering community connectiveness. They cultivate social bonds, ignite a love for learning, and champion inclusivity. Their physical and virtual spaces weave the fabric of our communities together. By supporting and being active in these community hubs, we can reverse the declining trend of community connectiveness and build a future Sunshine Coast in which our kids can thrive and belong.
By Karen Gawen, Young People’s Services Supervisor at the Sunshine Coast Council.