Get involved in Neighbour Day

Sunday 27 March will mark the 20th annual Neighbour Day Event. Picture: SUPPLIED.

By Jonty Ralphsmith

People are being encouraged to take part in Neighbour Day 2022 after the pandemic has distanced relationships among friends and family.

Neighbour Day, celebrated on Sunday 27 March, offers people an opportunity to better get to know those around them through events or more simple measures.

Nick Tebbey, national executive officer of Neighbour Day, said people should aspire to start with small neighbourly actions to build connections with those close to them, such as putting each other’s bin in, taking some food, helping out with grocery shopping, giving a friendly wave.

“People might feel uncomfortable not knowing where to start – if it’s about sustaining relationships, there is no need to go out too big too early,” Mr Tebbey said.

“Build on a simple level and see how it goes from there. Let it evolve organically because if it does, it has more chance of being sustained into the long term.”

“Sometimes the smallest things make a huge amount of difference.”

“The pandemic has shown us that we are actually best supported by those around us particularly when we are locked down so our neighbours have become even more important now than they were before the pandemic.”

Participants in Neighbour Day 2021 were protected against the detriments to mental health that occurred in the context of the pandemic according to a project into the day involving 800 survey subjects.

The project, funded by Neighbour Day custodian, Relationships Australia, also found that participants with “rich neighbourly relationships” generally had more satisfying overall relationships and experienced improved mental health and wellbeing over time.

“Research shows that those who are socially connected and have numerous respectful relationships in their lives, have better mental health and wellbeing outcomes, and that those people are generally more resilient against the ill effects of loneliness”, said Mr Nick Tebbey, National Executive Officer, Relationships Australia.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the day which has grown from a ‘check in with your neighbour campaign’ to many neighbourhoods marking the day with a social gathering.

According to an interactive map, newly introduced by Relationships Australia, 24 events are taking place across Victoria including one in the City of Casey, but Mr Tebbey is certain that Neighbour Day has had a much greater impact than just those events.

“In 2022, the groundswell in activity has been inspirational. Local Councils, Community Organisations, businesses and passionate individuals across Australia have joined the call to action and we have over 100 public events registered nationwide – with many more private and unregistered events also being planned. These events, which will mark the 20th Neighbour Day, are just a small taste of the neighbourly events taking place on each and every day of the year.

Many private events have been registered that cannot be viewed on the neighbour day website and many more resources have been accessed and actions taken place that are never formally recognised.

“This year we’ve seen resurgence in people talking about neighbours and wanting to be connected – there has been a positive swell in engagement in and people wanting tools and wanting to be involved in Neighbour Day so that’s been a real heartening and something of great optimism.”

Neighbourhood Watch Casey added that participation in Neighbour Day contributes to an increased sense of safety.

A research project undertaken in 2020 by various organisations including Monash University and Sydney University found that people are more likely to share crime concerns with neighbours, rather than Police or Council.

“It comes down to watching out for each other,” Damien Rosario, president of Neighbourhood Watch Casey, said.

“The more awareness we have of each other and our surroundings, the better our chances of identifying critical details of a crime or one that may be in progress, or preventing one by reporting suspicious activities to agencies such as Crime Stoppers.”

To get involved in Neighbour Day, click the following link: