Relationships Australia Rescues Neighbour Day
19 December 2013 at 8:27 am
Community support Not for Profit, Relationships Australia, will take responsibility for Australia’s annual community celebration, Neighbour Day, in 2014 after it won the national campaign to save the event.
Neighbour Day founder Andrew Heslop sought expressions of interest to take over the community day after 10 years of directing and funding the day out of his own funds.
In October, an Australia-wide search has begun for a national Not for Profit organisation or group with the capacity and resources to take responsibility for national Neighbour Day – set up by Heslop – the 2012 NSW Volunteer of the Year.
The annual day – held in March every year – was set up to promote social cohesion and build social capital by encouraging residents of all ages to get to know their neighbours.
Heslop started the day in 2003 after the lonely death of an elderly Melbourne woman who was discovered two years after she died in her home.
At the time Heslop said he had self-funded Neighbour Day from his own resources after repeatedly being unable to secure any philanthropic, corporate or government funding to support his vision.
“Neighbour Day needs financial support that is significantly greater than what I am able to provide. It needs a formal structure and a team of people who can guide it," he said.
“What impressed me most about the bid by Relationships Australia was our shared vision and values, as well as their overwhelming commitment to retain the fundamental structure of Neighbour Day and to continue the expansion of it through their well established national network.
“Our communities are only as strong as the people who live in them and helping individuals and families build stronger relationships has been the fundamental aim of Relationships Australia for 60 years.
“I’m delighted to be handing over responsibility to such a respected organisation and I look forward to working with the Board and Management in the transition process."
Relationships Australia National Executive Officer Alison Brook said she was very pleased the organisation had been chosen to continue promoting the benefits of well-connected communities and great relationships between neighbours of all ages right across Australia.
“Neighbour Day has developed a unique and powerful role reminding us all on one day of the year how vital, and at times critical, it is to know your neighbours on the 364 days which follow,” Brook said.
“We firmly believe that a positive relationship with other residents can and does change communities, but it also assists our personal well-being in helping to prevent loneliness, isolation and depression.
“We look forward to continuing to build on the legacy of its founder Andrew Heslop who has committed much energy, time and money in building his vision over the first ten years."
More than 30 organisations and groups from across Australia expressed interest in acquiring Neighbour Day after a national process that began in October 2013.
Since 2003 Neighbour Day has had five principal aims:
- Strengthen communities and build better relationships with the people who live around us;
- Create safer, healthier and more vibrant suburbs and towns;
- Promote tolerance, respect and understanding;
- Break down community barriers;
- Protect the elderly, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged.