Combatting loneliness in the Riverina with community visitors scheme Riverina Community College

Combatting loneliness in the Riverina with community visitors scheme



Combatting loneliness in the Riverina with community visitors scheme

When Temora woman, Val Lewis, came across a brochure for the Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) at a local seniors expo, she knew instantly that she wanted to become a volunteer.

“I’m a widow, and I know what it’s like to feel lonely at times, so I thought I’d sign up and offer my time to someone in the community who could benefit from a cup of tea and some friendly conversation each week,” Mrs Lewis said.

“It’s an outing for me and I’m sure the elderly woman I visit enjoys the company and conversation too.”

Funded by the Australian Government and operated locally by the Riverina Community College, the CVS plays a critical role in providing companionship for older community members who arereceiving an aged care package in their own homes or in aged care facilities.

The program matches volunteers to elderly ‘recipients’ who may be at risk of experiencing isolation due to family, social or cultural reasons, or due to disability. The CVS currently has volunteers in Wagga, Junee, Cootamundra, Temora, Tumut, Gundagai, The Rock,Coolamon, and Ariah Park.

But according to program coordinator, Kathryn Bredin, there is scope to expand the program to more residents in the Riverina, with loneliness increasingly being felt by vulnerable community members since COVID-19.

“Social isolation and loneliness impact millions of Australians, even more so since the pandemic,” Ms Bredin said.

“I think everyone resonates with loneliness, whether it’s themselves, or their parents, grandparents or neighbours. Everyone has a reason to understand loneliness.

“The CVS is helping fill that gap, taking connection to people where they are.

“Now more than ever we need help from volunteers just like Val to keep in touch with our elderly recipients.

“If you want to refer someone or yourself to the CVS, or would like to become a volunteer visitor, please get in touch with the Riverina Community College,” Ms Bredin said.

Val alsoencouragedthose with spare time to put their hands up and give the program a go.

"Anyone can be a volunteer, as soon as they are over 18 years of age, and the minimum commitment is visiting one elderly person for 1.5 hours a fortnight. A short visit can make the world of difference to the elderly," she said.

“It’s stepping away from this tech-mad world that we live in. It’s taking people back to social connections.”

To learn more about the CVS, or to sign up as a volunteer or recipient, please contact Kathryn Bredin on 02 6933 5555 or email