By Sam Robinson, Neighbour Day Campaign Manager
It was a huge year for Neighbour Day in 2019, with communities from all corners of Australia participating in variety of neighbourly events, from garage sales to street libraries to barbeques, parties, and even street art installations.
The theme for Neighbour Day this year was: Loneliness: what neighbours can do to create connections and Australia has done a fantastic job of doing just that. We would like to say thank you to all our Very Neighbourly Organisations and our amazing ambassadors, who helped to make Neighbour Day a success.
I’d like to share with you some of the highlights of this year’s Neighbour Day.
Australia’s most well-known Neighbours get behind Neighbour Day
One of Neighbour Day’s Very Neighbourly Organisations, R U OK? caught up with their ambassador and Ramsay Street favourite, Rob Mills, for Neighbour Day this year. Rob suggests that being neighbourly might seem daunting for some of us, but a small gesture can go a long way.
He says creating strong connections is as simple as “being community minded. Thinking of others, and being a good person.”
Dementia Australia and their ambassador, Takaya Honda, also used Neighbour Day to shine a light on the loneliness suffered by people living with dementia, who often become socially isolated as a result of their illness.
Through their support program, Dementia Friendly, Dementia Australia is seeking to educate the public on the disease and how best to reach out to sufferers, to help improve their quality of life, because as Takaya says “everyone deserves good neighbours.”
State emergency and the importance of neighbours
This year the Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES), Country Fire Authority (CFA), and the Red Cross united with Relationships Australia, to celebrate Neighbour Day and encourage communities across the state to build healthy relationships with others who live in their community.
They issued a Neighbour Day challenge to all SES, CFA and Red Cross members in Victoria with the chance to win one of 15 Bunnings vouchers valued at $200 each, and kindly sponsored by PDF Food Services
The challenge was simple.
Do something with your neighbours, or anything neighbourly on Sunday March 31 – and share (photo, video, story) on social media tagging their agency.
We know that creating a positive relationship with your neighbour, and having an understanding of who could be vulnerable during an emergency, may help save lives.
A big thanks to these three organisations for the very neighbourly work they do every day of the year – including Neighbour Day!
Healthy Tasmania Neighbour Day Challenge
For the second year running, the Department of Health in Tasmania teamed up with Relationships Australia Tasmania for their annual Healthy Tasmania Community Challenge. The challenge encouraged people to reach out to those around them to create well-connected communities, by either hosting or attending a registered Neighbour Day event on March 31st.
Entrants had the opportunity to win either $1,000 or $5,000 for their region (North, North West and South) by simply registering their Neighbour Day event and in 500 words or less describing:
- The planned Neighbour Day event and the group involved.
- How they would spend $5,000 or $1,000 in their town or neighbourhood to help create connections and address loneliness in their community.
The winners of the draw were announced on the 5th of April, and we’re excited to see how each region will use the prize money to better their community!
Neighbour Day every day
A special mention also goes out to Very Neighbourly Organisation City of Kwinana, which launched Neighbour Day Every Day on Neighbour Day.
This new place-based program encourages community members to make every day count by providing resources and support to make every day Neighbour Day.
Community members are guided by the City’s Place Leaders to organise and host activities in their streets and local parks with their neighbours. A handy resource kit and access to an activity box (sports, games, etc.) helps neighbours create connections.
What about the other 364 days of the year?
Recent research tells us that Neighbour Day helps create ongoing and enduring connections between people and their communities. These enduring connections are what help people emerge from loneliness, they contribute to building a sense of belonging and give people a sense of purpose and identity.
With continued interaction, relationships formed through Neighbour Day often lead to increased neighbourhood trust which in turn leads to neighbours experiencing a greater sense of safety in their neighbourhood, and offering support to each other.
So no surprises really!
We reckon that every day is Neighbour Day and we encourage you to keep at it. For every smile, every g’day, every kindness and every other neighbourly action you take, you are making a positive difference and helping to grow stronger and more inclusive communities.