Fighting loneliness in Victoria, One Good Street at a time

This story and associated images and/or video was produced before physical distancing regulations were introduced in Victoria.

A new grassroots program in Flemington connects volunteers with elderly neighbours. It’s known as One Good Street and it’s tackling loneliness with community spirit – and a new set of wheels.

One Good Street, a grassroots program tackling loneliness experienced by the elderly, has received a helping hand from the Victorian Government’s Pick My Project initiative.

With loneliness and social isolation a growing public health issue across Australia, the One Good Street program is harnessing social media for the greater good by providing a platform for neighbours to connect with older residents in their communities who are in need.

Founded in 2017 by healthcare worker, Matiu Bush, the idea for One Good Street came to him because he regularly helps out his elderly neighbour and he wanted to encourage others to do the same.

The program looks beyond traditional avenues for delivering care to the elderly – such as nursing and professional homecare services – and instead promotes neighbourhood-initiated care through the simple act of being neighbourly and looking after one another. “What it does is it puts residents in contact with volunteers who want to do great things and then relationships form, Christmas cards are sent, birthdays are celebrated,” says Matiu.

One Good Street, which has amassed about 1000 volunteers so far, aims to change the way the community thinks about and treats the elderly – one street at a time. “There’s no end to the number of people who want to make their streets, their suburbs, better places for older people to live,” Matiu added.

The program recently launched its newest initiative – the One Good Ride program. The new program teams volunteer cyclists up with residents at local aged care facilities in Melbourne’s inner north – including Gregory Lodge in Flemington – to take them for tours through local neighbourhoods, which helps them to reconnect with their communities.

The revolutionary vehicle making the tours a reality is a new-age rickshaw imported from Copenhagen featuring a comfortable passenger bench seat at the front. One Good Street put part of its $30,000 Pick My Project grant towards the purchase of the bike, which is helping older residents address the lack of mobility as a contributor to social isolation.

Local volunteer, Jules Borghouts, has been one of first to take residents for a spin on the new bike. “I think it helps build ties in the neighbourhood between the younger and older residents,” said Jules.

The One Good Street project also operates the Library of Aged Care Things, Victoria’s first free library of aged care equipment enabling people to donate or borrow equipment ranging from frames and shower stools, to reclining chairs and electric wheelchairs.

The One Good Street initiative was one of 10 successful projects chosen in the inner metro region as part of Pick My Project, a community grants initiative empowering Victorians to generate project ideas that make their local community an even better place to live.

The Victorian initiative has awarded funding to 237 successful project ideas, with more than $30 million in funding allocated to community projects that aim to bring people together and make a difference.

To find out more about the program and to join the movement in your neighbourhood, visit the One Good Street website.