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Live longer. Let your community show you how

Telstra News

Posted on November 13, 2009

3 min read

I’m here to tell you how to halve your chances of dying in the next year.

Simple, quick, reliable, cheap, and involving no drugs, legal or illegal.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, I have to confess, there is a catch; you’ve probably already done it.

Here’s the secret, from Professor Robert Putnam:

“Controlling for your blood chemistry, age, gender, whether or not you jog, and for all other risk factors, your chances of dying over the course of the next year are cut in half by joining one group, and cut to a quarter by joining two groups.”

– Putnam, R., 2001, Social Capital Measurement and Consequences, Canadian Journal of Policy Research , 2(1):41-51

Most Australians do belong to one group, and a sizeable fraction belong to two. Perhaps that’s one reason why we’re among the longest-lived nations on earth.

A lot of you, however, still aren’t part of any group, for one reason or another. Which is why Our Community and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, with the support of the Telstra Foundation, have set up the Join in, Join Up! project. We want you to do just that – join in, join up!

Wherever you live, whatever your interests, there’s a community group out there eagerly waiting for you.

Mind you, most Australians don’t join groups because of its health benefits – most don’t actually know about them (you didn’t, did you?).  They join because they enjoy it and because they want to make a difference. Which is much better for you.

Joining a community group is a great way of strengthening your community, promoting social cohesion and public trust and making everybody’s lives safer and happier. If you want a community that supports your ideals, you have to be prepared to put something back. And that involves identifying what matters to you and throwing all your enthusiasm behind it.

That’s good for the community, and it’s good for you.

On a personal level, participation with a community group helps you to develop your skills, build your social networks, and feel the satisfaction of knowing you’ve made a contribution.

Ask yourself

  • What are my priorities?
    You want the world to be different – perhaps a little different, with a new bus stop at the end of the road, or perhaps completely different, with a new heaven and a new earth, or perhaps something in between. Think out the changes you want to see, and find out who’s working for them now.
  • What do I have to offer?
    Are you a leader? A clear thinker? A warm and loving person? An expert on trains/birds/scones/laws/posters/cows/whatever? Do you have a strong back, or a medical degree, or a lifetime of experience in the real world? We’ve all got something to offer, but we don’t all value it properly.
  • What’s needed?
    Look around for something that needs to be done – and where your contribution can make a difference.

All these matters can influence your choice of where you want to join in and join up. Sometimes the right cause recruits you, and at other times you have to go out and look for it.

Start by looking in our Join in, Join Up! Directories of Community Organisations. Search in your interest area or geographic area.

Sign up now and get the Putnam Bonus.

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