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Celebrating Neighbours Across Australia

Written by Siobhan Moylan

We are always amazed at the incredible things neighbours around Australia do to help each other, and we are lucky that we get to witness these moments firsthand on Nextdoor. In challenging times like this, kindness is only more prevalent on Nextdoor.

Neighbourhood kindness is at an all time high here in Australia. We’ve seen a 10x increase in the words ‘offer’ and ‘help’ in the last 14 days, and a 4x increase in people signing up to Nextdoor. 

While we are physical distancing, it’s important to remember that you can still stay socially connected while within the boundaries of your home. 

Before the outbreak of Covid-19, we launched our 2nd annual “Celebrate Your Neighbour” competition in Australia, in celebration of Neighbour Day. We asked Nextdoor members to nominate those in their community that are going above and beyond. No act of kindness is too big or too small. 

The nominations were incredible, and it was extremely difficult to choose winners.   

Head of Nextdoor Australia, Jennie Sager, says that celebrating Neighbour Day is a great way to give thanks to those quiet achievers who perform random acts of kindness all year round. “Like Neighbour day, Nextdoor gives people a way to initiate a conversation with someone they don’t know or most likely haven’t met before. 

“We have been overwhelmed by the neighbourly kindness and offers of help we have seen on Nextdoor, particularly throughout the bushfire crisis, and now during COVID-19.  It took us days to pour through hundreds of Good Neighbour nominations from right across Australia, and it was so hard to choose winners. Every single nominee is doing amazing things, and we know that when this current pandemic is over, these digital connections will continue to translate into true, meaningful connections offline.”

Each winner receives a $100 gift card to their favourite local business and the Grand Prize winner, Geoff Boughton receives a $500 gift card to put back into the local community. He chose to give the local school some of the funds because they lost their planned ‘Sustainable Living Fete’ due to COVID-19. He is giving the other half to a local non-profit called “Friends of Yellagonga Regional Park” who help rehabilitate the local lake. 

Read the amazing winning entries below. 

WESTERN AUSTRALIA, KINGSLEY – GRAND PRIZE WINNER – CONSTANZE SPICER NOMINATED GEOFF BOUGHTON (OAM) 

My neighbour Geoff Boughton has assisted me on a weekly if not daily, basis since my husband died suddenly of a heart attack on 20 Jan 2019, leaving me as a single mother of two kids aged 4 and 6 at the time. He came to the funeral, and has fixed and helped me non stop eg installing security system (crawling in a hot ceiling cavity), installing and fixing reticulation, helping build a chook pen and help look after temporary backyard swimming pool. He gives me lifts to places, looks after kids if I need to duck out and comes to the lake with us where he spends time with my son to take his RC boat for a spin. He has helped me set up and put away a garage sale, an emotional time as a lot of the items belonged to my husband. Geoff has been a shoulder to cry on, a great listener and I’m lucky to live next door to such a kind and generous human being. Apart from that, he is one of Australia’s top 100 leaders in engineering and was honoured with an AOM this year for saving countless lives for making a contribution to the Building Code of Australia, being an expert in structural engineering for cyclone affected areas. So a very busy man at work, many extra hours spent giving to the community of Australia and Pacific region, and yet he still made time for my two kids and me. He has three grown up children of his own with wife Jenny. He looks after my pets (fish, chooks, cat, worm farm) when I’m away too. He is a top bloke 😊

Constanze Spicer Nominated Geoff Boughton (OAM)

NSW, Central Coast, Saratoga – VIVIENNE ROBERTS NOMINATED BY ANNE O’CALLAGHAN 

I would like to nominate my neighbour Vivienne Roberts as the most fantastic neighbour. I had a stroke 12 years ago. I have lived here the past 6 years. I am now on my own. She makes life a lot easier in so many ways. Apart from her camaraderie she is helpful in practical ways. She takes my daughter’s dog for a walk. My daughter moved out 6 months ago. Takes my bins out each week. Offers to shop for me. All the while she has a smile on her face and genuinely is very gracious and doesn’t make you feel guilty about the help one constantly accepts. When I broke my foot due to a bad fall last November she cooked for me and bought the food into my bedroom. Vivienne is helpful to neighbours also. She was a nurse and had to retire due to her husband’s Motor Neurone Disease. She makes my week easier for me. Thank God for a neighbour like Vivienne! 🙂

NSW, Milsons Point – ANNE WARR NOMINATED BY HEATHER SMITH

Anne Warr is the President of the Millers Point Community Resident Action Group. She works tirelessly to improve our community. She frequently takes time out of her day to meet with neighbours to hear their concerns and work with them on ways to take action. At our Millers Point Community Resident Action Group she Chairs the meeting skilfully and gracefully to keep the meeting running but ensure all community members who attend have an opportunity to be heard. She recently led the development and implementation of a half day programme to engage our neighbours in what matters to them and having them take ownership of various projects. Anne also thinks about the engagement of local small businesses in our neighbourhood. A small example, for our community led Millers Point Monday Night Farmers Market we needed community members to volunteer time to run the BBQ so food could be served. This was not a sustainable model relying on volunteers, so when Anne learned about this challenge she immediately took it on as her own and spoke with the owner of a local cafe about him running the BBQ and serving food. He was delighted to be asked and has been running the BBQ since. Now we have happy neighbours at our local market because their bellies have been filled with yummy food and a local small business is supporting a community initiative and gaining customers by letting neighbours know where the cafe is. Thanks to Anne our Millers Point community is growing stronger and enriched.

VICTORIA, Ballarat – CAT DAVIS NOMINATED NEIL PARA 

Neil and his beautiful family of three and his wife, are refugees awaiting their status. They have waited 7 long years living on community sponsorship, unable to work or be self sufficient. He volunteers for the SES and has built community groups from the ground up without asking for anything in return. Neil has shown more compassion, kindness and selfless community spirit than I have ever known or seen. He has inspired everyone around him and everyone he meets. His selfless dedication to his family and community is his driving force. I nominate Neil for his endless selflessness despite the hardship he and his family face. Cat and Neil met through Nextdoor and are working together to enhance Ballarat as a great place to live. 

VICTORIA, Alphington – MARIE PACKER NOMINATED ANNE RISCHETELLI

Anne has consistently over 30 years supported neighbours in any situation presented to them while supporting her husband’s business and her three children. She is the go-to person in our street and she responds with practical care and love. For 20 years she discretely supported her vulnerable widow neighbour. She has supported a single father who became a widow when his son was 13, and an 85 year old neighbour who lost her husband. Annually, she instigates a ttreet Christmas party. Anne is a community person and a peacemaker. Anne has endured personal health struggles with her own family and supported parents and in-laws, she does it all with a smile and no feeling of obligation to repay her. Anne is trusted and loved in our neighbourhood. 

WA, Ashby – DIANE HITCHENS NOMINATED BY MARK JONES

It all started with Garage watch, I left my garage open a couple of times accidentally and Di either popped over to let us know or sent Charlotte her daughter. Then we exchanged numbers. Garage watch turned into a reticulation watch for the garden sprinklers. Di has looked after our dog and house when we had to quickly go overseas due to a family emergency. My wife and Di are now great friends, Charlotte has introduced my wife to horse riding and we think we have the best neighbours going. Not to mention that Di is married to Paul, who is a great guy but that goes without saying. Di, Paul and Charlotte are also the names of my sister, brother in law and niece, bizarre!

QLD, MANGO HILL, JOYCE LAFFERTY NOMINATED DAWN THOMSON

Dawn has been my neighbour for 31 years. When I had my first baby, she would come over on many occasions at short notice to watch him when I had to run to pay bills or go to the bank. In later years, it hasn’t been just children she has watched. She looked after our pooch to enable us to go on holidays. After our dog passed, we have often had to fursit our kids dogs when they have travelled. Dawn has fursat these dogs again to enable us to get away. She not only feeds them but walks them or comes over to sit with them during storms. Sometimes she just pops back over at night to give them a cuddle. Over the years, she has taken in two dogs from the neighbourhood. One was from an old man going into care and the other from a young girl who was going to surrender her dog to the pound. She has always taken in and cared for any injured animals found in the area. She is a very special neighbour who now is considered more as family. ♥️♥️

QLD, YANINDA CREEK, PAULINE EDWARDS NOMINATED JAN GIBSON 

As we all know, the rate of Homelessness everywhere is increasing at an alarming rate. Here on the Sunshine Coast, our neighbour Jan saw the plight of these folk and began making small toiletry bags for them, so that they could have a wash or shower, as quite often they couldn’t afford toiletries, or there were not the facilities available. She would obtain small purses/gift bags from markets, pharmacies, donations from friends etc., and fill them with necessary items…. toothbrush, shaver, tissues, comb, wash cloth, deodorant, small shampoo and conditioner, small toothpaste, moisturizer, tampons, etc., etc. Neighbours and friends enthusiastically collect small items from their travels, which are perfect for assembling these packs. If the packs are short of a necessary item, or If the items don’t come to her from donations, Jan will go out to source them and purchase whatever she needs to complete the packs. She then distributes the packs via Orange Sky Laundry, St Vincent de Paul, The Shack at Nambour… she will suss out wherever the homeless might gather for a free meal, or to have their laundry done. So far Jan has made over 1000 toiletry packs for men, women, and families. Her laundry cupboards are set up like a mini pharmacy, so that she can easily put together emergency packs as needed. Most of the packs are now assembled in ziplock bags, which she purchases, as demand increases and availability of inexpensive toilet bags has depleted. Jan has a huge heart… and she really feels deep sympathy and empathy for these folk who sometimes have joined the ranks of the homeless through no fault of their own. I nominate her to be neighbour of the year…. she is indeed a good neighbour to everyone.

ACT, RICHARDSON, MELISSA COOPER NOMINATED GEORGINA BROWN 

It’s amazing what my neighbour does for the whole street. She is just a text away for anything you need. For me, she has done babysitting, washing, folding, cooking and the school run. For others, she has helped with plumbing, landscape, gardening, cultural differences (translation of Australia’s traditions), she provides fruit and veg that she grows in her garden to others. I worry that she helps too much. Because she has cancer, but she says it keeps her alive. She never asks for anything in return. She told Nextdoor “I have always done stuff for other people. I am retired and have had cancer for 20 years”  – She lives with her partner and she has two kids. She grew up in Queanbeyan. And says, “I love my neighbours”.  

SA, COLONEL LIGHT GARDENS, SCOTT BERRY NOMINATED CHRIS AND LAELLA 

Chris and Laella work at Crafers garden centre and all their clients realise that they know their stuff and provide great service. However they go the extra mile for their neighbours. Chris delivers firewood for many of his neighbours and plants at great value prices. We’ve even been blessed to have been chatting to him about needing to mulch our garden and after coming back from a long weekend away found that he not only delivered it but carefully spread it throughout our front garden. Chris and his partner Laella also set the culture of the street and have set up neighbourhood street parties on the nearby tennis courts at times. They are always hospitable hosts, generous with food and drinks and keen to introduce new neighbours around and remind people of names for those who may have forgotten.

MEDIA: For interviews with any of the winners or nominees or with Jennie Sager (Head of Nextdoor Australia) call: Siobhan Moylan at siobhan@nextdoor.com or 0422 755 785

** All winners have a unique story to tell about how COVID-19 has effected their neighbourhood **

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