This year on Sunday 27 March, Neighbour Day celebrates 20 years of connecting communities. Neighbour Day is Relationships Australia’s national campaign that encourages all Australians to build social connections in their local community and reduce loneliness.
Loneliness is recognised as a public health concern with research indicating that as many as one in three Australians have experienced a period of loneliness. Loneliness is associated with poor mental and physical health as well as reduced longevity.
On the other hand, research also shows that communities where people know each other have better mental health, are safer, and are more resilient. Connecting with people outside of your family and friends is important for tackling Australia’s loneliness crisis.
Creating strong social connections and reducing loneliness is something that each of us can do and it can have a beneficial outcome. Recent research conducted by the ANU this year found that people who participate in Neighbour Day had a significantly higher sense of neighbourhood identification regardless of whether they were the host or a participant at an event. Importantly, taking part Neighbour Day activities was associated with wider and larger social networks and more time spent socialising.
Sometimes it is the little things that matter most, like that neighbour that always gives you a friendly wave and a smile when they see you drive past. There are also times when communities really come to the fore. The people that rally to support those around them, especially in times of crisis which sadly, we have seen a lot of across Australian Communities lately.
Neighbour Day is a fantastic reminder to be there for those around us in our neighbourhood, but we are asking everyone to let it be a reminder to show compassion, care and respect to your neighbour in all areas of your lives.
Whether it be a teammate, colleague, student, teacher or your employer. When we are part of teams, clubs, workplaces or community groups, those around us are our neighbours. And the more we can lean into empathy, vulnerability and support, the kinder we can all make the world that we live in.
All of the above are the parts of our lives that can contribute to our sense of social identity, and through these connections it brings together a sense of community.
We encourage you to connect with your communities this Neighbour Day. Help address loneliness across Tasmania and build the communities we want to live in, one relationship at a time.
Dr Michael Kelly, CEO Relationships Australia Tasmania and Mitch McPherson, Founder SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY and Neighbour Day Ambassador