The last 12 months have certainly been challenging for all Australians, but we are incredibly encouraged by the way neighbours, and neighbourhoods, came together to lend each other a helping hand and to spread kindness and positivity during this time.
More than 7000 Nextdoor members have already offered help since the introduction of Nextdoor Australia’s Help Map and there are now 40 Covid related help groups that have formed over the last year.
Head of Nextdoor Australia, Jennie Sager, says that neighbouring has never been more important and that the way people are coming together everyday is unprecedented and inspiring.
“Neighbour Day reminds us of the importance of social connection and neighbourly actions. As our research shows, knowing just six neighbours reduces feelings of loneliness and small acts of kindness truly have a positive impact on mental wellbeing. Every single nominee is doing something that improves the lives of others and it was near impossible for us to choose just a few winners from the entries we received…
We experienced this in previous years, but the way neighbours across the country stepped up over the past 12 months was incredible. Communities have come together to lend a hand in the most unique and heartwarming ways, and we are thrilled to reward and celebrate neighbours across the nation who have gone above and beyond, bringing smiles, love, and kindness to their community. At Nextdoor, we will continue to build these powerful connections online that translate into true, meaningful connections offline in the real world.”
Jennie Sager -Head of Nextdoor Australia
The Neighbour Day 2021 theme is ‘Every day is Neighbour Day’ encouraging people to perform neighbourly actions every day of the year.
Encouraging social connection is the essence of Neighbour Day and the aim of Neighbour Day is to increase positive and sustainable social connections between people and communities throughout Australia.
See the list of the year’s finalists below: Original Nominations have been slightly edited.
“A gift from Heaven” – John and Lucy nominated by Magnolia – Gold Coast, QLD,
Magnolia is a medical researcher and fairly new to the neighbourhood. She told Nextdoor, “Our very friendly Greek neighbours John and Lucy embraced us from the minute we moved to the Gold Coast.
My daughter and I were new to the area with no local insights and they treated us like family from the word ‘go’. They invited us and other neighbours to a BBQ at their place so we could get to know the other people in the street. John has mowed my lawns, fixed garden hoses and dishwashers, and watches over our house when we’re away; Lucy regularly shares herbs from their vegie garden, spinach pastries from her oven, and we chat about our families when we see each other in the street.
We got to trust them quickly and felt so welcome that they now have keys to our place and collect our mail when we travel and they let tradespeople in and supervise when I have to work. The most beautiful expression of neighbourhood caring was during the pandemic. I had to work from home every day for six months and ordered frozen food to maintain social distancing, and during that time they brought their warm home-made Greek food and desserts regularly to our door, left the plates or containers safely wrapped, rang the buzzer and left, to make sure we felt safe from their contactless and full-of-love deliveries. I was extremely tense throughout the pandemic and they relieved my tension so much.”
“To us, they are guardian angels….. John and Lucy have restored our faith in humanity and reminded us that we don’t need to be blood relatives to feel part of a family.”
The Street Chaplains Paul & Jenny Feddema, nominated by Edgar – Toowoomba, QLD
“They get the people of our street together once a year in their home, and otherwise have become something like the chaplains/parents of the street. They help with shifting, child minding, temporarily storing furniture, etc. They connect everyone with others so that we know one another’s names and talk to one another. They have no other agenda but showing love and care. Every neighbour in our street would say the same thing! At the peak of Covid, they popped around to everyone’s house with biscuits and a gift. They are the go-to couple for anyone who needs a hand.”
He is only 19! Kane nominated by Katie Beechey – Camperdown, VIC
Kane is only 19 years old , volunteers at St Vincent de Paul & lifeline and is also the umpire for the local Camperdown Magpies team and dreams to be umpire for Collingwood one day. Katie told Nextdoor that, “ Kane is helping people in the local community; he volunteers at church each week , and is known to assist people in need of money for groceries & necessities. Kane is heavily involved in the local football association, umpiring games, and supporting the entire local football fraternity with all volunteering. Kane aids our local playgroup, after school activities programs as well as is a valued member of the Kidmania community volunteer team. He is just an amazing kid and checks on neighbours each night just to ask if they’re ok.”
Nothing is too much trouble – Daina nominated by Ely Martinez-Ortiz – Abbotsbury, NSW
“Following my surgery for breast cancer, Daiana and her family, helped us to take out our garbage bins on collection day. During this pandemic, they baked fresh cakes and biscuits for us and dropped them at the doorstep with a caring note each time. She always asks if we are alright and offers to do our grocery shopping, buy our medications or anything else we need. We are so grateful and blessed to have Daiana and Ben plus Liam and Bronte (their children) – It will be lovely to see them recognised and acknowledged for their caring dedication to help others. They bring so much joy and a sense of community to our lives.”
The best sound in the world is his truck reversing into the drive – Joe Zunli nominated by Kathy – North Coburg
Kathy says that when her neighbour, Joe, arrives home in his truck, the sound of his reversing sensors are always so comforting as it represents security for all and a sense of a caring big brother next door. Joe and Kathy have been neighbours for about 15 years, Kathy told us; “My neighbour is so awesome I can’t even begin to tell you. Joe is a very hard working man and no matter the time of day, he will be there to help . I am a single parent with two teens . Joe is always there to help me with the garden, mowing and fixing things around the house – I just have to go outside and he always comes over with an extra pair of hands . Even when I’m not home I sometimes arrive to find my trees pruned and leaves raked up. And it’s not just the garden, he also cooks the best pizza in his wood fired pizza oven and he shares with all of us. Joe introduces all the neighbours and has drive way get togethers . He knows how to break the ice and make everyone feel comfortable. All the kids in our street love him. Joe is number one.”
Where’d we we without the SES? And they’re our Neighbours! Dorris and Max Ross – Yanchep.
They were in there helping with the Yanchep fires last year and this year they’ve worked tirelessly in the Red Gully fires and the most recent at the Wooroloo fires. They help with logistics and also drive firemen and women into locations and also drives them home. They also attend request for storm damage homes and lost people in the community. I see them put themselves out to help others. Such generous people. Dorris also cooks and shares with everyone around her. This couple are what a community is made of. Always there to lend a helping hand and I am so lucky that they are also my neighbours.
It Was Fate – Gill (Gillian), nominated by Jeanette -Hindmarsh Island, SA
When the pair first got talking, they realised that they had just a bit in common! They are both from England and came out on the same boat, on the same day and attended the same primary school and now they are on Hindmarsh Island together! Jeanette told us that Gill has successfully started a Mahjong club which currently has 30+ members who meet weekly in the Coorong Quays community room. This activity provides a meeting point for older women mainly, although there’s no gender rule. “We spend three hours a week testing our brains to play this challenging game with the help of experienced players – Gill teaches newcomers and assists anyone who needs help. It’s a social activity with banter around the tables of 4 and also with a break for afternoon tea that Gill provides where members mingle and celebrate birthdays that Jill has recorded. A very enjoyable afternoon keeping our brains active. She has now expanded this and runs fitness. She is always on the go looking for new things to do. Every NYE thay have a party and invite all the neighbours and any newcomers so we all get to meet new people.”
Like Mother Like Daughter – Cathy-Jo was nominated by her Mum Vicki Munno Para West,
Vicki is actually Cathy-Jo Tame’s mum and lives in a neighbouring suburb. She tells Nextdoor, “Cathy-Jo puts so much effort into our community – she has a disabled child who is in a wheelchair and lost one child previously – but she still continues to make a difference in the community with a big smile and energy. She decided to become a counselor and worked hard to get the position. She started by getting out there, listening to the community, asking what issues needed addressing, and meeting locals regularly . She started a cleaning business and has been helping people who are on the NDIS to navigate the system – she is highly involved in Adelaide’s women’s shed.
Cathy-Jo cleans and gardens to help people keep their houses up – and still manages to look great on hardly any sleep due to her daughter’s health condition. She now advises shopping centres on matters of accessibility and is moving to have more hydrotherapy pools in the area for disable kids. She is a neighbour, but she is also my daughter, and I couldn’t be more proud. I don’t know how she does it.”
Australian Capital Territory
“The Mayor of Leane street” – David, nominated by Carmel, Hughes Canberra
Carmel says, “David has been a longstanding important contributor and leader of our community who is colloquially known as, “The Mayor of Leane street, the Leane street detective or the night watchman”. Many years ago he established our annual street party. He connects with everyone who moves into our street. He alerts people to developments and issues of concern and danger. He really brings people together, reaches out to those in need and builds social cohesion. It is so wonderful to have someone like David of such long standing in the street and neighbourhood who can build a sense of camaraderie , care and concern, and adds a bit of fun to our times together. During Covid, he also did wonderful displays about ANZAC Day outside his home, and did the Christmas red ribbons around his trees. We all feel so much more comfortable and safe knowing he looks out for everyone and is so welcoming of new members to our street and community. He is an exemplary Canberran. “
Living Nextdoor to a Legendary Pastry Chef – Kirsty, nominated by Kim Chandler, Kingston Beach.
When we looked into this nominee more closely, we were told that Kirsty is not only a great neighbour but the first female pastry apprentice in Tassie! Her long-time neighbour Kim told us via her entry that “My neighbour is always doing things for my family she is always baking biscuits or cakes and often sends over ‘adult type’ food for my husband and I.
Kim and her husband have kids of their own and 6 foster kids so life can be busy. Kim tells Nextdoor, “Recently she set up a secret afternoon tea for my birthday – she comes over via our shared gate and makes gingerbread houses with my six foster children. She is always cooking for the needy and homeless of Hobart and surrounding areas and judging cake competitions as well as being a teacher herself. She is always available to watch the kids for me and is a huge support to our family of eight.
We honestly don’t know what we would do without her. She is definitely an angel sent to help so many people and lives right next door and if she moves, we are moving too.”
Kisten, who is also a teacher at the local school told Nextdoor, “I think it’s important for kids to see the gift of giving and receiving – I feel incredibly flattered but for me I have a burning desire to make sure everyone feels ok, my Mum was like that too. It’s in my blood”. At school, she asks her students to make random acts of kindness cards to experience the gift of giving for themselves and says that daily gratitude and giving is what gets her out of bed in the morning.