Ambassadors

Natalie Ahmat

Natalie Ahmat is the Presenter of National Indigenous Television (NITV) News, Australia’s only Indigenous television news bulletin as shown on SBS Television. Natalie is the winner of a host of awards including: Journalist of the Year for the Multicultural and Indigenous Media Awards 2015; the Lane Cove Citizenship Award for Leadership in 2013, the Deadly Awards Community Broadcaster of the Year in 2012 and a commendation for excellence in journalism at the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network in Norway the same year.

Natalie is descended from the Mudburra people in the Northern Territory on her grandmother’s side, and her grandfather was born on the Torres Strait Islands.

Natalie’s message for Neighbour Day:

“Neighbour Day is a great celebration for all communities and I encourage everyone to get out there, to introduce yourself to a neighbour you haven’t met before or to stop and yarn to someone in your street. You never know who you’ll meet and you may even make a new friend!

It’s good to get to know your neighbours and sometimes we really need to know them in times of emergency. Kids and older people feel safer when they know the people that live around them. It means we all have someone nearby to call on if we are worried about something, people know us and can help out in an emergency.

Our lives become easier when we have friends around us and we are less likely to be lonely. It’s also easier to maintain friendships when your mates live closer to you. Strong neighbourhoods and Neighbour Day are just plain good to be part of!

So get out there, invite someone over for a cuppa, organise a street party or just go and say hi on Neighbour Day. It’s Australia’s greatest celebration of community!” 

Natalie Ahmat
Neighbour Day Ambassador

The Hon Fred Chaney AO

Fred Chaney is the 2014 Senior Australian of the Year. He has a strong commitment to marginalised people and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1997.

Fred has served in the Australian Parliament, he established the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia and is the founding co-chair of Reconciliation Australia.

Fred considers it to be an honour to be an Ambassador for Neighbour Day:

“Neighbour Day is a wonderful initiative that reminds us of the significance of connecting with our communities. 

In my role as a previous Senior Australian of the Year, I strongly support Neighbour Day in raising awareness of the critical importance of supporting the elderly and vulnerable in neighbourhoods across the country. 

Neighbour Day reminds us of our personal responsibility to create the community we want, where people are recognised and respected. 

Forming relationships with your neighbours and community is not only important for the vulnerable, it also increases our personal wellbeing and sense of belonging. Not everyone has family or friends living close by, especially those new to the area or our country. Neighbour Day is a reminder to put ourselves in the shoes of others and think about how we would like to be treated by those around us. 

I encourage everyone to participate in Neighbour Day. It is important we take care of each other in our communities. It is good for our individual and collective wellbeing and may make a world of difference to people at a time of vulnerability and need in their lives.”

 

The Hon Fred Chaney AO
Neighbour Day Ambassador

Nick Duigan

Nick Duigan is the co-host of the long running TV fishing program Hook, Line and Sinker and one of Australia’s best known recreational anglers. Hook, Line and Sinker has 200,000 viewers every week!

Nick is a funny guy with a passion for adventure, flying, fishing and hanging out with the locals.

He is keen for all Australians to get involved in celebrating Neighbour Day, particularly those in Tassie!

“I’m honoured to don the ambassadorial robes for Neighbour Day; a great initiative that brings communities closer, and helps us feel more connected with the people around us. It’s even more important to me because I was lucky enough to grow up with the best neighbours in the world!

Age five, my parents packed up the family to move to Flinders Island in the middle of Bass Strait – population 800. On the island everyone knows everyone – when you pass a car, you wave; if you drop in uninvited you’ll be invited for lunch; and at the pub, old people talk to young people. Flinders is one of those rare places where the spirit of community thrives.

Our nearest neighbours were this great Italian family.  They had a son my age and every day I’d fire up the ride-on-mower and head over to go adventuring and avail myself of the best Italian food ever created. For me and my family, that warm welcome and neighbourly care made Flinders Island home. Even though I haven’t lived there for years, every time I visit, I make the pilgrimage to that little farm house and the welcome is as warm as ever.

Growing up on that island with a great family and the support of our neighbours is a big part of who I am today. Neighbours made all the difference.”

Nick Duigan
Neighbour Day Ambassador

Costa Georgiadis

Costa Georgiadis is the 2019 Logie Award-winning host (Best Presenter) of ABC’s Gardening Australia. Costa is a landscape architect who has an all-consuming passion for plants and people – he knows how to bring out the best in both of them! Costa is committed to communities and to gardening both the soil and the soul.

Costa is very excited to be an Ambassador for Neighbour Day. 

“I’m stoked to be an Ambassador for Neighbour Day. I really love to see communities come together and what’s so simple about the day is you don’t have to go far to have fun!

Getting together with your neighbours or your local community is fantastic for lots of reasons. I know because it’s something that I do every day in communities all around the country, including my own.

Getting to know your neighbours over a cuppa or a barbie can lead to lifelong friendships or just feeling more secure in your neighbourhood.  I see friendships formed over community gardens week in and week out. Verge gardens, pocket parks, laneways…you name it. Families, kids, adults and elders are nurturing their environment and growing things for the birds, insects and people to share.  It’s not just the plants that are growing in the garden, people are too. They are connecting with one another, all ages together.

So 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
Neighbour Day Ambassador

Julie Goodwin

Australia’s original MasterChef, Julie Goodwin, is passionate about bringing people together with delicious, home-cooked food. Her third cookbook, Gather features delicious recipes for large and small crowds of family and friends – the perfect food for Neighbour Day gatherings!

Julie is proud to be a Neighbour Day Ambassador and has shared some of her favourite recipes with the Neighbour Day family below.

Julie’s Neighbour Day message:

“We Aussies love our food, and in my view there is no better way to bring people together than over a good meal. Food is at the heart of thousands of Neighbour Day celebrations each year. Food connects us, it nourishes us, and the sharing experience creates wonderful memories and strong communities.

Whether you have a sausage sizzle, a cuppa and cake, a street party or a small dinner with the next-door neighbours, Neighbour Day is a time to reach out and make a connection with the people around you. Getting together can transform and strengthen the relationships with the people around us. It’s simply good for everyone involved.

Neighbour Day is a time to stop and look at the people around us, to be a part of a community, and to celebrate. Good food will make your celebration all the more special! To help get the ideas flowing I’ve shared three of my favourite recipes for gatherings at the bottom of this page, or visit my website for more tasty dishes to share with your neighbours.

I wish you, and those around you, a happy and delicious Neighbour Day!”

Julie Goodwin
Neighbour Day Ambassador

www.juliegoodwin.com.au

Andrew Heslop Image Credit John Mcrae Photography

Andrew Heslop

Andrew Heslop is the founder of Neighbour Day in Australia and is now a respected Ambassador.  A well-known social commentator, community activist and broadcaster,  Andrew has been recognised for his commitment to community internationally. He is also an Australia Day Ambassador.

Andrew’s Neighbour Day message is: “As the founder of Neighbour Day I am delighted to continue my association as an Ambassador now that Australia’s annual celebration of community has found a new home with Relationships Australia. 

Our communities are only as strong as the people who live in them, which is why Neighbour Day provides a chance to pause, reflect and celebrate the people who live around us. 

We know how vital neighbours are to each other during bushfires, floods and emergencies, but everyday actions like borrowing power tools, collecting the mail, taking in the recycling bin or walking the kids to school are often forgotten. 

Whether you live in the city or the bush, in a house, an apartment or on a farm Neighbour Day is the day to say thanks for being a great neighbour, thanks for helping me out and thanks for being there when I needed you most.

 Working together to create healthy, tolerant and inclusive suburbs and towns must be a goal for every Australian, no matter where we live or our personal circumstances.

I strongly encourage everyone to be a part of Australia’s biggest celebration of community – not just on Neighbour Day, but on every day of the year.”

Andrew Heslop
Neighbour Day Ambassador

Andrew Heslop Image Credit John Mcrae Photography

Hugh Mackay AO

Hugh Mackay AO is one of Australia’s best known social researchers and the author of nineteen books – twelve in the fields of social psychology and ethics, and seven novels. Hugh’s book, The Art of Belonging, explores the reasons why some communities thrive and others break down, and explains how community engagement enriches us all. His latest book, Australia Reimagined is an uplifting and passionate reflection on how to build a more compassionate and cohesive society. 

In recognition of his pioneering work in social research, Hugh was elected a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society and has been awarded honorary doctorates by Charles Sturt, Macquarie, NSW and Western Sydney universities. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2015.

Hugh’s message for Neighbour Day is:

“We all want to lead a good life, at the heart of a thriving community, among people we trust, and within an environment of mutual respect. Neighbour Day gives us an opportunity to reach out, to connect and to become more engaged with our local community.

Being by nature ‘social creatures’, we need to feel that we belong to strong communities, but those communities also need us. Neighbourhoods, communities – even entire societies – can lose their ‘soul’ unless community-minded people are prepared to become involved in the life of the local community. It’s up to each one of us to take responsibility for the places where we live by engaging, volunteering, joining up and joining in.

Neighbours don’t have to be best friends – but the role of neighbour is a distinct and precious one. Knowing the people around us increases our sense of emotional security and physical safety, and our local neighbourhood networks help to define and sustain us – in both the good times and the more challenging moments of our lives.

This Neighbour Day, I encourage you to get up, get out, have a chat, organise a neighbourhood catch-up, attend a community event or reach out to someone nearby that needs a hand. You’ll feel better for it and you’ll be helping to nurture and support a community – and that benefits all of us.”

Hugh Mackay, AO
Neighbour Day Ambassador

Andrew Heslop Image Credit John Mcrae Photography

Mitch McPherson

Mitch McPherson, the 2017 Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year is a Mental Health Advocate and Lived Experience Speaker. He is also the Founder of Tasmanian based mental health and suicide awareness organisation SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY.

SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY works to promote positive mental health and prevent suicide by normalising conversations about mental health and encouraging people to seek help when they need it.  Mitch established the organisation in 2013 after his younger brother Ty died by suicide. Mitch shares his personal story of loss to encourage others to speak up and seek help when they have issues or go through difficult times.

Mitch and his team organise community events, fundraisers and presentations to community groups, workplaces, sporting clubs and schools to promote the SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY message. The team works hard throughout Tasmania and Australia to raise awareness about mental health and suicide, and share that it’s OK to not be OK, where to find help, and how we can help each other out in tough times.

Mitch’s message for Neighbour Day:

“Connection is something I am incredibly passionate about. During my 8 years working in the space of mental health, I have realised the importance of finding ways to stay connected with friends, family members and the general community.

Community connection is important for our health and wellbeing, and Neighbour Day is a great opportunity to connect with those around you. 

It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture, it can be something small. Perhaps just a smile and a wave. Or a g’day and a chat to someone in your street about the weather or sport.

Maybe introduce yourself to a neighbour you haven’t met. You never know who you’ll meet and you may find you actually have something in common.

It is really important that we strengthen our communities; get people to connect with their neighbours, and in doing so, put a dent in loneliness. 

So have a go this Neighbour Day, reach out and make new connections by simply just saying ‘hi’ on Neighbour Day.

I strongly encourage everyone to be a part of Australia’s biggest celebration of community – and remember… ‘Every day is neighbour day’ and ‘it’s ok to not be ok.’

Mitch McPherson
Neighbour Day Ambassador

Andrew Heslop Image Credit John Mcrae Photography

Sophie Thomson

Sophie Thomson, ABC television’s Gardening Australia presenter, is also an engaging speaker, author, broadcaster and horticulturalist. Her enthusiasm and passion for plants and gardening inspires people of all ages. Sophie is a strong advocate for sustainable gardening practices, growing organic food, cooking from the home garden and creating backyards where kids can play freely and develop a lifelong connection with nature.

Sophie’s message for Neighbour Day:

“I am delighted to be an Ambassador for Neighbour Day!

Living in the Adelaide Hills I know that community is important not only for friendship and fun, but also for wellbeing and safety. Just as you would tend a garden with care and attention; so too do we need to nurture the relationships with our neighbours and neighbourhoods. Strong, resilient and peaceful communities grow from social connection and inclusion. In both good and bad times, knowing our neighbours makes us feel content and secure.

I see wonderful relationships formed in gardens across the country every day where adults and children connect with nature and with each other.

So much grows through our interaction with our environment, including the friendships forged over a vegie garden, children enjoying ’free play’ in the backyard or local park, or sharing a home-cooked meal.

I encourage everyone to do something to celebrate their neighbours. It can be small – perhaps dropping off a note to an elderly neighbour; or something bigger like opening up your garden to your neighbours for a ‘bring a plate afternoon tea’ and gardening fest!

Whatever you do, Neighbour Day is a great opportunity to connect and share some community spirit. Be a part of sowing the seed for the future health, wellbeing and happiness of your neighbourhood, as well as the future health of the planet.”  

Sophie Thomson
Neighbour Day Ambassador