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Celebrate Neighbour Day 2019 in Canberra

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by Belladonna (subscribe)
Loves going out and about, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, and writing about her adventures!
Connect with the people in your neighbourhood

"Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours. Just a friendly wave each morning, helps to make a better day..."" And so begins Barry Crocker as he belts out the theme song to the very popular Australian tv soap Neighbours.

In our modern, affluent western societies such as Canberra, we live so much of our lives in our homes in our neighbourhoods, and yet many of us know so very little about the people who live around us and even right next door to us. Many of us hardly speak a word to our neighbours, not even a casual hello or g'day. And many of us don't give our neighbours that friendly wave each morning, as Barry Crocker urges us to do. Then there are those of us who would do absolutely everything possible to avoid complete contact with our neighbours. We wouldn't even think these days of knocking on our neighbours' door to ask for that proverbial cup of sugar. We'd much rather hop in our cars and drive down to the shops to get the sugar ourselves.

Of course, there are those of us who do get along well with our neighbours, or some of them, at least. And it really was only a generation or so ago when many of our neighbourhoods were friendlier and therefore felt a lot safer. But it is a tragedy of our modern, technologically advanced, fear-driven, and largely suburban societies that many of us don't know our neighbours now. That is why Australia celebrates Neighbour Day, held on the last Sunday of March each year, to encourage people to connect with those who live in their neighbourhood.
Celebrate Neighbour Day in Canberra

What is Neighbour Day?
The purpose of Neighbour Day is to build better relationships with the people who live around us. Neighbours are important because good relationships with others can transform communities. Meaningful social connection also helps prevent loneliness, isolation and depression.

Neighbour Day was founded in Melbourne in 2003 by activist and social commentator Andrew Heslop after the remains of an elderly woman, Mrs Elsie Brown, were found inside her suburban home. Elsie had been dead for two years-forgotten by her neighbours, her friends and her family. While Andrew did not know Mrs Brown, he was shocked by the apparent ease in which the world had left her behind. And so Neighbour Day was born.

Relationships Australia has now taken on the responsibility of managing Neighbour Day. It will be held this year on Sunday March 31 and its theme is: 'Loneliness: What neighbours can do to create connections.'
Celebrate Neighbour Day in Canberra

Australia's Loneliness Crisis
This year's Neighbour Day theme is very fitting as Australia is currently in the grip of a loneliness crisis. According to the Australian Loneliness Report published in 2018 by the Australian Psychological Society and Swinburne University, one in four Australian adults are lonely. One in four Australians also experience high levels of social interaction anxiety. The report found that lonely Australians have significantly worse physical and mental health than connected Australians, and are also more likely to be depressed.
As for our relationship with our neighbours, the report found that 75% of Australians never or seldom have a neighbour available to talk to!
Celebrate Neighbour Day in Canberra

Not so long ago, there were many suburbs in Canberra and across Australia where families living on the same street all knew each other with their children going to the same local school together. But these days, it's a very different world that we live in. Australians are increasingly time poor, with many households having all adults in employment and less time for community engagement and neighbourhood connection. Fewer people know, and interact with, their neighbours and are members of community groups.

What can we do to create connections with our neighbours?
Neighbour Day urges us all to reach out to our neighbours and create a connection, especially towards the lonely and vulnerable in our communities. Here are some ways you can do just that:
Say g'day when you see your neighbours – a smile and a wave can go a long way.
Take in your neighbour's garbage bin or maybe offer to mow your neighbour's lawn or collect their mail when they're away.
Reach out to neighbours who you know are living alone, especially the elderly, knock on their door to introduce yourself, pop a note in their letterbox to let them know you are there if they ever need a hand, and then exchange numbers in case of an emergency.
Ask your neighbour if they'd like to accompany you to a local community event.
Take the initiative and plan a neighbourly event – have a barbie, a picnic, a dinner – anything goes when every day is Neighbour Day!
Welcome new neighbours to your neighbourhood by ringing the doorbell, introducing yourself, and even offering to help with the move in if you are able.
Get to know your local shopkeepers – they can be a wealth of knowledge on what's happening in your area, the best restaurants, pubs, cafes and even other shops. It's also nice to have a friendly face to talk to when you get your groceries.

You can find some more great ideas on how to be neighbourly here.
Celebrate Neighbour Day in Canberra

Celebrate Neighbour Day in Canberra

My Story
Not long after my husband and I moved into our new home in our new Canberra suburb in 2013, our neighbour across the road, Jenny, invited us over to her house for afternoon tea. There we met Jenny's family and some of the other neighbours in our street. Since then, Jenny and these other neighbours have become so much a part of my everyday life. We've had Christmas parties, high teas, and movie dates together. We've gone on walks, looked out for each others' houses while we've been away, and we've even met each other's friends and families. I've invited them to my son's third birthday party as well as his Baptism. We've gone trick or treating to their houses for Halloween. And though I haven't yet borrowed a cup of sugar from any of them yet, I know that I will always be welcome to do so at any time!
Yes, we're all still neighbours, but we also now regard each other as friends. And it was all thanks to Jenny who was the first to make us feel welcome and at home in our new neighbourhood. I think every street and every neighbourhood needs someone like Jenny!
Celebrate Neighbour Day in Canberra

To find out more about Neighbour Day, find out more ways about how you can get involved, and if you want to organize a special event for Neighbour Day, please visit the Neighbour Day website here.

"I want to encourage everyone to get out there this Neighbour Day. Talk to your neighbours, host a morning tea or a barbeque, get together in the garden – anything will do. It's a perfect excuse to start spreading some positivity and community spirit around your neighbourhood. It's all about the 'L' word .. LOCAL! Live it, Love it…"

Costa Georgiadis
Host of Gardening Australia and 2019 Neighbour Day Ambassador

Celebrate Neighbour Day in Canberra

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Why? Because we all want to live in welcoming, kind, and supportive neighbourhoods and communities
When: Sunday March 31. And every other day of the year!
Where: In your neighbourhood!
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