By Claire Matthews
The annual Neighbour Day on 28 March is a chance for communities to check in, connect and support each other. Organised by Relationships Australia, the theme for the 2021 celebration is Every day is neighbour day.
Each year, Neighbour Day celebrates social connection around Australia, including an annual, Tell us Your Story competition. The day aims to reduce social isolation and loneliness by encouraging Australians to build and maintain relationships with their neighbours.
Relationships Australia National Executive Officer Nick Tebbey said celebrating Neighbour Day is especially important this year to recognise how local communities bonded together during COVID-19 lockdowns last year.
“All Australians have endured a difficult year, and the winners of this year’s Tell Us Your Story competition showcase just some of the ways people adapted and creatively connected.
“These connections occurred both in real life, and online, both within neighbourhoods and wider communities and are great examples of the Neighbour Day spirit in action.”
For the Tell us Your Story competition, one winner from each state and territory was awarded $100, with the national winner receiving $400.
The national winner for 2021 was from NSW, with a story of neighbours dressing up in fun outfits to mow their lawns during the pandemic. From Tasmania, there was reaching out to neighbours who needed medical care. In the ACT, there was a cul-de-sac community doing Zoom meetings and distanced brunches.
In Victoria, there were socially distanced street chats that improved mental health. From Western Australia, there was a What’s App group to communicate during the lockdown. From South Australia and Queensland, there were stories of forming solid friendships with neighbours and community.
Mr Tebbey said Neighbour Day 2021 is the perfect time to celebrate these stories and to continue building relationships within communities.
“Australia is full of amazing stories of connection and kindness, and this year’s winners highlight the many acts Australians are taking to support each other throughout the pandemic and beyond.
“Neighbour Day 2021 is approaching, and we encourage all Australians to take inspiration from these stories, and to seek opportunities to connect with their neighbours in safe ways, and to support each other”, said Mr Tebbey.
Neighbour Day 2021 also includes a new initiative, Communities Connected, which aims to shine a light on community organisations that help people stay connected across Australia. Nominations are now open for the major prize, to be announced on 28 March.
So, this Neighbour Day, share a cuppa, a picnic in the park, or a message of support. Maybe do something simple to help those around you, like mowing their lawn. It’s easy to start building connections and community.
For more information on Neighbour Day and how to get involved, visit their website neighbourday.org.