The concept of what it means to be a neighbor is changing, both as a result of advances in technology and in response to rapidly changing world events. Today, a ‘neighbour’ can include anyone with whom you share a community, and is no longer limited by physical location.
In a similar way, Neighbour Day has evolved from a reminder to connect with elderly or other vulnerable neighbours to an annual celebration of strong communities, and the important role they play in the lives of all Australians.
Mr Nick Tebbey, National Executive Officer of Relationships Australia said, “Neighbour Day was started to address loneliness and social isolation within society and its message is more important than ever. Australia is amidst a loneliness epidemic with many in our population suffering from a lack of social connection, which can result in a range of negative health effects for an individual and have negative impacts within society more broadly. With the current crises facing us, as well as the rest of the world, it has never been more important to focus on how each of us can build and strengthen social connections and community while maintaining safe and healthy relationships with those in our life.”
Celebrations of Neighbour Day have traditionally been face-to-face gatherings, however given the challenges the world is currently facing in the light of COVID-19, getting together physically at this time is no longer appropriate and Relationships Australia encourages everyone to find other ways to connect and engage with their neighbours and communities. Examples may include online/virtual connections through social media or important acts of kindness such as leaving “calling cards” in neighbours’ letterboxes with a kind message and your phone number, so that they can call you for a chat. Sometimes just checking in can be the most important step you take.
“Social connection and safe, healthy relationships are vital to a functional and productive society. It is up to each of us to help build the relationships, communities and, ultimately, world we want to live in. Neighbour Day is traditionally celebrated on the last Sunday in March, however the day itself is a catalyst and we at Relationships Australia believe that every day is, and should be, neighbour day. It’s the conscious efforts we each make to contribute positively to society and the communities we are part of that are so important”, said Mr Tebbey.
Neighbours matter, and now, more than ever, is the time to find creative connections.
Further ideas on how to connect during these trying times can be found on the Neighbour Day website and social media.