Neighbour Day 2021 Theme
Every day is neighbour day
When every day became neighbour day
Across the country, Australians are facing unprecedented times. We are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and the strength we draw from each other, from our relationships and our wider communities, has never been more important. Changing conditions, and new directives from government, have necessitated a shift in the way we interact and are likely to stay with us for into the future as we all adjust to a ‘new normal’.
Over the years, supporters have told us that they like Neighbour Day (as a recognised national campaign) because it gives them ‘permission’, or perhaps a legitimate ‘excuse’, to build connections with neighbours and try something neighbourly without it feeling intrusive.
When the pandemic hit Australia in early March, the need to support others within our community became even more pressing. People told us that they wanted to do something, to take positive action to support their community, particularly during these uncertain times.
With that in mind, we pivoted and launched our #CreativeConnections Tips to help support people to stay connected every day.
Who is a neighbour?
The word ‘neighbour’ has undergone a revival during last summer’s bushfires and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, the term ‘neighbour’ is well understood as someone who supports others in times of need. someone who picks up shopping or other essentials for others. Someone who checks in regularly to make sure people are ok. Someone who volunteers to help those needing support. A neighbour can be someone in your street, or the wider community, your workplace, or online. Maybe in Australia, perhaps overseas.
Neighbours connect and provide support to those living next door and to those further away. We have the capacity to build communities beyond our physical locations. Neighbours can be anyone.
Loneliness as a deficit of Social Connection
Relationships Australia’s research (2018) found that one in ten people are lacking social support or connection, while one in six experience emotional loneliness. Further, just under 1.5 million Australians report they have been lonely for a decade or more. It is a loneliness epidemic. Research tells us that this lack of social connection can have significant impact on an individual’s mental and physical health as well as the health and cohesion of the wider community.
The Australian Government’s response to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, while necessary, has led to a deficit of social connection for many Australians.
Social connection is critical for our health and wellbeing. Social connection also makes us feel better as it helps prevent loneliness, isolation and depression. Neighbours are important because good relationships with others can transform communities.
The 2020 theme for Neighbour Day focused on Social Connection and that theme holds true for 2021 – where we continue to highlight the need for meaningful connections that happen every day.
What did Neighbour Day 2020 look like?
Of those who reported that they did manage to take action for Neighbour Day 2020 of some form, the majority (81.7%) indicated that their reach tended to be on a smaller scale and between 1-20 people. These smaller events are likely due to the COVID-19 physical distancing and lockdown restrictions, resulting in the cancellation or postponement of the majority of planned events (e.g., BBQs and other food sharing activities, street parties).
A small percentage of survey respondents managed to reach a larger number of people by leaving connection cards, care packages or using social media. The community reported that they adapted and found creative ways to create connections and stay connected. Some examples below. [Neighbour Day 2020 Evaluation]
- Called a neighbour
- Posted on social media
- Launch social media group
- Connected through ‘group messenger’ chats
- Texted the nearby neighbours
- Started a Facebook group and Website
- Virtual morning tea
Not in person (left something / did a favour)
- Bear Hunt for children
- Boredom/Educational packs
- Buddy program for elderly
- Chalk art on driveway/footpath
- Created an art display at our local sign
- Delivered and received care packages, including cards for kids
- Exchange of unwanted kitchen appliances
- Formed a volunteer group to walk dogs
- Goods exchange
- Held colouring/poetry competition for school children
- Helped an elderly neighbour’s yard
- Left “Bags of Hugs,” a present, ‘’Appreciation Notes,” hand sanitiser, home-baked goods, contact details, treat bags, toilet roll, letters
- Made artwork for neighbouring housing building
Neighbour Day in the time of COVID-19
Initial findings from ANU’s 2020 Evaluation of Neighbour Day revealed that from early March – April 2020, respondents reported a decreased sense of mental wellbeing; an increased sense of loneliness; and yet an increased sense of neighbourhood satisfaction.
In April (survey time point 2) during lockdown restrictions, respondents reported that greater neighbourhood identification was associated with better mental wellbeing. This occurred in part due to greater perceived access to neighbours’ support and reduced loneliness.
Being involved in multiple social groups was positively associated with mental wellbeing. This occurred in part due to greater perceived access to support from family and friends, and reduced loneliness.
We also found that especially during this period of crisis, survey respondents saw the importance of connecting with neighbours for the benefit of their community, and individual, wellbeing.
Respondents described using a myriad of creative ways to connect through virtual or not-in-person means that complied with official guidance on social gathering restrictions.
Compared to 2019, people reported that getting involved in Neighbour Day 2020 was less about having fun and meeting new people, and more about reaching out to support neighbours in the pandemic situation as well as perceived benefits for one’s own wellbeing.
Connected people connect communities
As the country grapples with extended periods of isolation, physical distancing measures and a re-think of how we operate our day-to-day lives, we want to remind everyone of the importance of social connections and support – every day.
The risk of increased loneliness and social isolation at this time is worrying. While it is vital we adhere to physical distancing rules, we also need to prioritise maintaining healthy social connections and relationships as these are key to good mental and physical health.
Relationships Australia firmly believes in the power of the Australian community to support its most vulnerable, to tackle loneliness, and to work together to ensure healthy and safe relationships throughout the pandemic and beyond.
Encouraging social connection is the essence of Neighbour Day.
Knowing your neighbours and your broader community has never been more important.
Neighbour Day 2021 theme
Whilst Neighbour Day is officially celebrated on the last Sunday in March each year, the purpose of the campaign is to raise national awareness of the importance of social connection and neighbourly actions throughout the year. It encourages people to make meaningful connections that last beyond the day itself.
The Neighbour Day 2021 official theme is ‘Every day is neighbour day’ – building on the growing movement of people taking neighbourly actions every day of the year.
The principal aim of Neighbour Day is to increase positive and sustainable social connections between people and communities throughout Australia. In doing so, Relationships Australia as the home of Neighbour Day, aims to support healthy relationships and assist in tackling the loneliness epidemic in this nation.
What will 2021 be like?
Right now [1Oct20], popping into a neighbour’s place for a cuppa (for many) is no longer easy – and in fact in many cases, not advised, nor even allowed. Catch-ups at local parks, gyms, cafés, restaurants and bars are limited for most, and mask wearing (for very good reasons) is becoming the norm in many states.
We don’t know what changes might occur between now and Neighbour Day 2021. We hope that circumstances in March next year might permit some of the traditional events of previous Neighbour Day campaigns, however if that is not possible we all need to find other creative ways to stay connected.
How do we stay connected & keep everyone safe?
We all have to do our very best to get creative and make daily efforts to connect with those around us and further afield, to actively support each other – of course, taking into account the current public health advice.
Neighbour Day encourages everyone to think broadly about connection. You may feel inclined to connect with family, friends, neighbours – even people you don’t yet know.
Creativity and the courage contribute and build your neighbourly interactions is key.
The only thing we want to go viral – is kindness.
Neighbours matter (whether near, far, or online), and now, more than ever, is the time to make creative connections and to stay connected.
We’d love to hear your creative connections ideas!
How to be involved:
We encourage you to get involved in Neighbour Day on Sunday 28 March 2021, or any day that suits you and your community!
If you are hosting an event or taking some neighbourly action:
Register to access free material to help you organise a successful Neighbour Day event or to take neighbourly actions – including posters, invitations, labels, flyers and helpful tips.
Or if you prefer not to register you are still very welcome to download our free resources.
If you are attending an event:
On Social Media:
- Share a message of why you think knowing your neighbours is important.
- Share a message of why you think social connection and creating connections is important.
- Share a #CreativeConnections Tip that you’ve tried which has worked!
- Use the hashtags #NeighbourDay2021 #Everydayisneighbourday #CreativeConnections
- DownloadNeighbour Day 2021 Selfie Sign – Take a photo with the sign, and share the photo with us on our social media channels – AND don’t forget to tag us.
Neighbour Day 2021 Resources:
Images are a great way to capture attention in a busy newsfeed. Social media tiles for you to download will be added to this page mid-October 2020.