This Neighbour Day, Act Belong Commit® is encouraging Western Australians to connect with their neighbours to increase a sense of belonging among us all.
A key message of Act Belong Commit® is the importance of having a strong sense of belonging. Neighbour Day, managed by Relationships Australia, is an Act Belong Commit® partner and this year we are encouraging Western Australians to connect with their neighbours to increase a sense of belonging among us all.
Neighbour Day 2023 – Create Belonging
Neighbour Day is on Sunday 26 March. This day reminds us that we can all play a part in building connection and reducing loneliness. The theme this year is ‘Create Belonging’ which ties in closely with our campaign message that having a sense of belonging can improve wellbeing. Relationships and social connections provide us with a sense of belonging, which is essential for our mental health and wellbeing. Belonging to groups, whether formal or informal, large or small, local or even international, contributes to our identity and who we are. Belonging helps define our sense of identity and satisfies our psychological need for friendship.
The benefits of belonging include decreased heart rate and negative mood and increased social self-esteem as well as increased life satisfaction and overall wellbeing. On the other hand, the health risks of loneliness and not having a sense of belonging are equivalent to that of obesity, smoking and physical inactivity. In 2020, researchers found that loneliness is associated with a significant increase in a person’s risk of dementia. In addition, loneliness has been found to raise levels of stress, affect sleep and, in turn, harm the body.
What can we do to increase our sense of belonging?
- Keep in touch with friends and family
- Attend community events
- Join a club, group or team
- Get to know your neighbours
One way to belong is through neighbourly connection and support which is the main aim of Neighbour Day, an annual day to promote and celebrate the connection between neighbours. Research shows that communities where people know each other have better mental health, are safer, and are more resilient.
Inclusive and welcoming neighbourhoods
Each year Mentally Healthy WA choose a key topic to promote in the lead up to Neighbour Day and in 2023 the focus is specifically on refugees and migrants new to Australia. Research done in 2020 in NSW sheds the light on integration of refugees from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan and the importance of belonging within their community. In this survey, refugees reported a very strong sense of feeling welcome in Australia and feeling part of the Australian community. The findings suggest that local, everyday and neighbourhood level social bridges are a critical part of refugee belonging.
Below are some simple things we can do to support and welcome new Australians to our neighbourhoods.
- Say hello, smile and wave to neighbours – even if there is a language barrier, small positive actions make people feel like they are living in a safe and supportive community.
- Help with everyday activities if you can – offer to carry in shopping, give lifts to work or school, keep an eye on the house or collect mail when neighbours are away, which are all small actions that newly arrived families remember as very welcoming.
- Support grassroots ethnic and religious community groups if they are fundraising, holding activities or looking for volunteers – these are great local spaces to build social “bridges”.
- Contribute to an overall positive social climate and public discourse by sharing positive attitudes towards refugees and supporting organisations that do the same.
- Embrace the cultural diversity that refugees and migrants bring to our society. Learn a new language or tradition dance or song, cook or eat other foods and welcome to ideas and experience had by others.
Neighbour Day resources
The Neighbour Day 2023 website has a host of other resources you can use, as well as practical ideas for individuals, community groups and local governments to mark this special day. The above resource is downloadable to the right.
If you are doing something for Neighbour Day or bringing people together for any other reason, why not share the event on the Act Belong Commit® Activity Finder on our website. Contact us for more details.
Want to get more involved?
If you or your organisation would like to be involved in this or any other Act Belong Commit® initiatives, we’d love to hear from you.
2023 Health Awareness Calendar
Neighbour Day is one of multiple promotional initiatives outlined in our 2023 Health Awareness Calendar which brings together various promotional days and weeks providing great opportunities to share the Act Belong Commit message.