Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

New partnership to connect communities

A national program that harnesses the resources of Australia’s 5,000 pharmacies to make it easier for more people to join community groups will soon be in operation across the country.

With Australian Government support, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Our Community group are rolling out the national Join In Join Up network which will use an extensive data base and trained pharmacy staff to link people with local community groups.

Today, Telstra has also announced that it will join this public/private partnership and will be a key player in the marketing and communications campaign.

All the research shows that participation in community groups gives people a sense of belonging and inclusion. It’s a positive for health and wellbeing. And at a time when people can feel overwhelmed by external pressures, the companionship and security is even more important.

The Join In Join Up program will operate out of 5,000 community pharmacies – in cities, suburbs, the urban fringe, regional centres and country towns.

Trained pharmacy staff will be able to access a comprehensive, national data base, profiling the 55,000 community groups that already subscribe to Our Community.

Using this information and their training to recognise people at risk or in need, staff will provide advice on local community organisations that best suit the needs, interests and life circumstances of their customers.

For example, new parents can be linked with playgroups, people with chronic illnesses put in touch with health support groups, young people on methadone programs connected to rehabilitation and the elderly with senior’s clubs.

Pharmacies already offer professional advice and assistance but through Join In Join Up they will have an expanded capacity to link up the people coming through their doors with relevant community groups.

It is an innovative, practical way to connect people, especially those at risk of social isolation, to the groups which can give them the support and help they need.