If the answer is “not very well”, then Sunday, 28 March, is an opportunity to change that. It’s Neighbour Day across Australia.
Neighbour Day is an opportunity to reach over the fence and say hello to the people who live on your street, across the road and “over the back”. Run by Relationships Australia, it’s all about creating connections with your local community and building stronger links with those who live around you.
It’s a day to knock on a door and say hello, to share a cup of tea or even to hold a street party.
These days we tend to talk about neighbourliness in the past tense. People used to know everyone on their street; all the local kids used to play cricket in the middle of the road together; good neighbours used to rally around when someone was in grief or in crisis. But that kind of neighbourliness still exists today — it’s up to all of us to make it happen in our own communities.
Neighbourliness combats loneliness
Neighbourliness is particularly important for those in our community who are the most vulnerable to loneliness — including older Australians, those living with disability and people in mental health recovery, who enjoy independent living.
At Chorus we often hear that our team members and volunteers might be the only person a customer talks to on any given day. Getting to know your neighbours provides more opportunity for the kind of incidental social interaction that can cheer up your day — a call of hello from the verandah, a wave from a window, a chat over a fence.
If we want to live in the kind of communities where neighbours share bags of lemons from their overly productive tree, or where the teenagers put the bins out for their elderly neighbours on bin day, or where we can knock on the door and ask “is the kettle on?”, then it’s up to us to create them.
Taking part in Neighbour Day is great way to start. You can find out more on the website (including registering an event) or you can use the free resources Relationships Australia has created to plan how you’ll mark the day.