Resilient Sydney Blog – Neighbour Day – “Beat pandemic isolation, get connected”

Feb 15, 2022 | Blog

Guest blog by Resilient Sydney

In the third year of a global pandemic, there is no better time to beat the COVID iso and make every day ‘Neighbour Day’. A group of councils working with Resilient Sydney have been getting their communities better connected through a diverse range of actions to promote the Neighbour Day campaign to metropolitan Sydney communities.

Extreme weather events and the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated challenges for Sydney communities. International research and our combined lived experience of the last two years confirms that staying connected is vital for communities during and after disasters, as strong community connections and neighbours help people help each other to get through a tough time. Everyone needs good local connections in an emergency.

Connected communities are safer
Local government plays a key role in building social connections as a vital protective measure to improve community preparedness, response and recovery to disasters. Research by Resilient Sydney showed declining social cohesion was undermining city resilience. Councils in Sydney now widely promote the annual Neighbour Day campaign to deliver Action 18 of the Resilient Sydney Strategy – support communities to know their neighbours to create stronger communities who are better prepared to respond and recover from shocks and stresses.

2021 was the most successful Neighbour Day campaign run to date by Resilient Sydney. 25 of the 33 metropolitan Sydney councils took part, an improvement on previous years. Resilient Sydney with the tech support of Relationships Australia, supplied unique Google Analytic tracking links to use in social posts, to measure the success of new digital initiatives across the campaign.

Resilient Sydney is a collaboration of all 33 metropolitan councils of Greater Sydney to develop and implement a city-wide resilience strategy, published in 2018. The Resilient Sydney Office is funded by local government and hosted by the City of Sydney. Resilient Sydney offered support for councils to promote the campaign including social media posts, an e-marketing kit with ideas shared from other Councils, innovative materials and logos.

Diverse ways to build connections
Councils are developing diverse and creative approaches to entice communities to get connected. Blacktown City Council produced videos for social media on the benefits of knowing your neighbours. Many councils provided “Hey Neighbour” or ‘Good Neighbour’ postcards and connection cards for use in streets, libraries and local events. Councils hosted community BBQs, free sport or gardening events and community talks on the history of neighbourliness to support new personal connections.

Camden Council “Hey Neighbour” postcard

CLICK HERE to watch the Neighbour Day 2021 promotional video produced by Blacktown City Council 
Some councils promoted Neighbour Day by encouraging residents to volunteer in the community, creating longer standing positive and meaningful social connections with people outside of their normal groups and relationships. Liverpool City Council interviewed and photographed some local “neighbourly” community members to share their stories on social media.

Trends in connection
The last year saw Australians get creative to improve social cohesion in our communities. The 2020 Scanlon Foundation survey, highlighted 86% of respondents  indicated agreement that people were ‘willing to help their neighbours’, compared with 81% in 2019. Then 84% agreed that in the local area ‘people from different national or ethnic groups get on well together’, a 6% improvement on 2019. In response to being asked ‘is living in your local area  becoming better, worse, or unchanged?’, 84% indicated better or unchanged, up from 80% in 2019.

The capability of councils is increasing to both understand and communicate the role that social cohesion and community connection plays in improving community resilience. The Neighbour Day campaign contributes to improving the levels of social cohesion and connection in Sydney.

Working together
Resilient Sydney and councils are committed to continue joint efforts with Relationships Australia to promote the Neighbour Day campaign and improve the capability of local governments to understand and communicate the benefits of social cohesion. Our programs have shared marketing materials, digital metrics, key messaging, promotional images and audience insights to better inform us on what gets people excited about connecting. City councils and Relationships Australia have reached new audiences and provided tools and encouragement to keep connected to combat our recently enforced social isolation.

Resilient Sydney and the councils of metropolitan Sydney look forward to promoting the 2022 Neighbour Day campaign, to help communities build and strengthen their social connections and strengthen their ability to survive, adapt and thrive, no matter what comes their way.

Resilient Sydney is a collaboration of all 33 metropolitan councils of Greater Sydney to develop and implement a city-wide resilience strategy, published in 2018. The program commenced in 2015, aligned to the global Resilient Cities Network, previously 100 Resilient Cities, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation. The Resilient Sydney Office is funded by local government and hosted by the City of Sydney.