Neighbours: the good, the bad and the ugly

NEIGHBOURS: Everybody has them, but not everybody wants them.

This Sunday is will mark the tenth anniversary of Neighbour Day in Australia (which has nothing to do with the TV series).

Promoted as a day to celebrate community, Neighbour Day founder Andrew Heslop says the focus is all about building stronger and better-connected communities through street parties, barbecues and local events.

"No matter where we choose to call home we're all part of the local community whether or not we actively participate in it," said Mr Heslop, who was also awarded the title of 2012 NSW Volunteer of the Year.

"Yet knowing who our neighbours are is vital to feeling connected and supported - not just by the people next door, across the street or on the next farm but in the surrounding area.

"Over the past 12 months we have again witnessed brave neighbours of all ages standing side-by-side to confront floods, storms and bushfires - then regrouping after the event to recover and rebuild.

"As well, record high temperatures have encouraged residents to check up on elderly and vulnerable neighbours to make sure they are okay."

Ten years on, Mr Heslop says the message behind Neighbour Day is still the same.

"Our communities are only as strong as the people who live in them, which is why Neighbour Day continues to be relevant wherever you live in Australia," he said.

Mr Heslop suggested using the day as a catalyst for building great relationships all year round.

"Exchange phone numbers for use in an emergency and reassure them that help is only a phone call away," he said.

Always held on the last Sunday in March every year, Neighbour Day has five principal aims:

1. Strengthen communities and build better relationships with the people who live around us.

2. Create safer, healthier and more vibrant suburbs and towns.

3. Promote tolerance, respect and understanding.

4. Break down community barriers.

5. Protect the elderly, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged.

The free Neighbour Day kit for 2013 - containing invitations, name tags, posters and a 'how to' guide - can now be downloaded from neighbourday.org.

Meanwhile a new survey reveals neighbourhood conflicts are commonplace in Australia.

Frequent parties and late nights, barking dogs, and yard work were all at the top of the list for annoying behaviours, according to respondents to a survey undertaken by Domain.com.au earlier this year.

Domain's property spokesman Stuart Benson said it paid to do some research prior to moving in to a new apartment or house.

"Although not all problems with a street or building will be obvious at first glance, talking to neighbouring houses, and in the case of apartment-living, obtaining a strata report will give you the best idea of how your neighbours feel about the neighbourhood and each other," Mr Benson said.

The survey also found that the least desirable type of neighbours were backpackers followed by university students.

"If an issue with a neighbour does come up, it is important to listen to any concerns they may have, talk with them to try and find a resolution," said Mr Benson.

"Importantly, try to keep emotions out of the discussion."

Are you living next door to the neighbours from hell? Or will you be celebrating Neighbour Day this Sunday with an event in your neighbourhood? What are your tips for getting along?

The Daily Examiner wants to hear about your neigbhours - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Comment online, email newsroom@dailyexaminer.com.au, or phone 02 6643 0500 during business hours.

The survey, undertaken by Domain.com.au, shows:

  • Nearly 72 per cent of respondents rate their neighbours as 'great' or 'okay' in terms of friendliness while more than 41 per cent of respondents say their neighbour's behaviours are annoying;
  • Nearly 63 per cent of the respondents who reported annoying conduct say they have had conflict with their neighbours;
  • Frequent parties and late nights, animal noises such as dogs barking and yard work were nominated as the most bothersome neighbour behaviours;
  • Tips for a harmonious neighbourhood:
  • Unobtrusively introduce yourself to you neighbours when you first move in;
  • Offer to keep an eye out for your neighbours' properties when they are away;
  • Garbage bins and recycling can be issues - bring in your bins in a timely manner and if in a building make sure to dispose of rubbish thoughtfully;
  • If you're planning on having a party, think about doing a letter drop or have a chat to your neighbours letting them know;
  • Smile at people and say hello in the street.

(Survey of 1205 respondents conducted by Domain.com.au over February and March 2013)



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