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Why now is the perfect time to get to know your neighbours

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‘Isolation’ has been one of the biggest keywords of COVID-19. But so has ‘community’.

It’s these two opposites that form the foundation of a new ACT Government initiative—Know your Neighbour.

The initiative makes it easier to bridge the sometimes awkward gap between knowing who your neighbour is, and actually getting to know them in a COVID-safe manner through free Know Your Neighbour cards.

The cards will be dropped in letterboxes across Canberra from today. They can then be filled out with a person’s details.

People can use the cards as a way of introducing themselves and volunteering to help with tasks like grocery shopping or even just a chat.

“While many people in the community are increasing social contact with the easing of restrictions, there are people who will continue to isolate to protect their health and there are also people who are struggling with day-to-day tasks, particularly during long periods of isolation,” says Minister for Community Services and Facilities, Suzanne Orr MLA, who launched the initiative.

“This card has been designed to support our community through various stages of physical distancing provisions and gives you options to offer assistance to your neighbour including helping them to get essential supplies like groceries, walking their dog, or you can simply use the card as a first step in reaching out to your neighbour to see how they are going.”

“We all have experienced the impacts of COVID-19 in different ways and what we want everyone in community to know is that we are here to support each other.”

One side of the Know Your Neighbour cards.

Partnering with the ACT Government’s Community Services Directorate on the initiative is Neighbourhood Watch ACT, whose President Mr Laurie Blackall adds that maintaining community connections has never been more vital than during COVID.

“Our aim is to enhance the safety and security of our communities through the promotion of closer neighbourhood ties, and by sharing ideas and disseminating information through community programs that encourage participation in crime prevention and the building of safe and confident communities,” he says.

“As an organisation, we actively assist in the promotion of mutual cooperation and caring between neighbours, and the “Know Your Neighbour” cards are a worthwhile, practical contribution to promoting closer neighbourhood ties.”

The Know Your Neighbour cards will also be available for free from libraries, government shopfronts, community centres and even some supermarkets and cafes.

You can also download them from communityservices.act.gov.au/connect-in-canberra/supporting-our-neighbours-and-communities

Feature image: Martin Ollman

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