Secret to Living a Happy, Healthy Life

TALKING POINT                                          

Secret to Living a Happy, Healthy Life

April 2024

People with strong relationships live longer and are happier and healthier. In the longest study ever conducted about the key to human happiness, Harvard University scientists concluded, after 85 years of research, that our relationships with other people provide us with our greatest happiness.

Healthy relationships based on trust, respect, open communication, care, and equality are key to improving physical and mental health.

At Relationships Australia Tasmania, we aim to build a healthier and more resilient Tasmanian community. To do this, we help adults, children, families, and communities to create and maintain healthy connections and thrive in their relationships.

We believe that supporting Tasmanians’ good mental health and well-being, to feel safe and resilient to life’s inevitable ups and downs, is always a good investment because the outcome is a healthy and connected community.

Throughout our lifetime, we all experience transitions that change how we engage in our relationships. From the thrill of young love to the challenges of family life, from the depths of grief to the solitude of older age, relationship challenges can occur at any life stage, each experience demands a unique understanding and approach.

Not all Tasmanians have the knowledge and support to smoothly navigate every transition they will face in a lifetime.

The absence of strong, healthy and respectful relationships can leave many vulnerable to a cascade of adverse outcomes, including poor mental and physical health, loneliness, and even abuse.

Here are some examples of where we need to improve as a community to ensure all Tasmanians can maintain healthy connections and thrive in their relationships.

Children and their carers who are in out-of-home care 

In Tasmania, 1,256 children are in out-of-home care, many facing unresolved trauma and are at risk of ongoing challenges without specialist support to process their experiences.

There’s a recognised gap in both peer support for children and carers’ knowledge and preparedness to support these children, increasing their likelihood of further harm and impacting their long-term well-being and relationships.

Young adults at risk of physical and sexual family violence

In Australia, one in four women and one in eight men have experienced violence from an intimate partner or family member, with 3.8 million adults facing physical or sexual family violence since age 15.

A 2022 Anglicare study in Tasmania highlighted the severity of violence in teen relationships, with half fearing death from their partner. There is a clear need for intervention through evidence-based education programs that align with the curriculum’s focus on respectful relationships.

Grief and loss services

Grief is a complex and deeply personal experience and can affect us as we traverse through life’s events like death, illness, job loss, or relationship changes. The correct information, education, and support greatly benefit how we process grief and go on to thrive after such experiences.

In Tasmania, we lack coordinated initiatives to enhance the ability of healthcare providers to discuss grief, boost community conversations about loss, establish clear referral protocols, and increase access to culturally appropriate grief services.

Relationship support for older Tasmanians

Tasmania has an ageing population; 40% of Tasmanians are over 50, and the number of Tasmanians over 85 is expected to double over the next decade. Sadly, one in six older people experience elder abuse, and nearly all experiences of elder abuse are perpetrated by someone the individual knows well. Navigating the experience of elder abuse in the context of interpersonal relationships for older Tasmanians can be overwhelming and isolating. Many feel unable to self-advocate and lack the knowledge and confidence to safeguard their future.

Advocacy Tasmania, COTA Tasmania, Tasmania Legal Aid, and Relationships Australia Tasmania work in collaboration to increase community awareness and provide advocacy, services, and support to older Tasmanians experiencing elder abuse. As our ageing population grows, we must ensure that the support services we provide to older Tasmanians also grow.

By empowering individuals with the knowledge, support, and evidence-based skills to build and maintain positive relationships, we are not only enhancing the quality of life for Tasmanians but also reducing the societal and economic burden of mental health issues, abuse, and other relationship-related challenges.

Investing in Tasmanians’ emotional well-being will ensure that we are able to empower communities to thrive.

Dr Michael Kelly is the Chief Executive Officer at Relationships Australia Tasmania

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Media Contact: A.Mark Thomas, M&M Communications, 0422 006 732

About Relationships Australia Tasmania

At Relationships Australia Tasmania we provide families, couples, individuals, older people, children and communities with tools and strategies, so that they have healthy, positive lives. We help more than 8000 Tasmanians every year to transform and change their lives through counselling, mediation, dispute resolution, support and training.

Our focus is on:

  • healthy relationships, conflict resolution, parenting, cultural issues and mental health
  • We offer people the services and support they need, when they need it to assist them when life presents challenges.
  • Services are available to all people regardless of cultural background, family structure, economic situation, religious beliefs, gender or sexual orientation.

More information about the services and support we offer can be found on our website www.tas.relationships.com.au

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