Neighbour day was founded in Melbourne, Australia in March 2003 by Andrew Heslop. It is now becoming Australia’s annual celebration of community, bringing together the people next door, across the street or on the next farm for a beer, a barbie or just a cuppa.
Since 2003 the evolution of Neighbour Day has been quite remarkable. What started as a warning to check on elderly neighbours has grown into a much wider annual celebration
For the first time in 2008 every Premier and the Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory publicly endorsed Neighbour Day. It was supported by the Lord Mayors of Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and the City of Darwin along with federal, state and local government politicians. The Hon Kevin Rudd became the first Prime Minister to publicly endorse Neighbour Day, which he did in 2009 and 2010.
At a global level Neighbour Day has been endorsed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former President Bill Clinton and HRH The Prince of Wales who described it as ‘a splendid idea’. It was through Mr Annan’s enthusiasm that Andrew Heslop was invited to speak about the development of Neighbour Day in Australia at the United Nations in May 2008.
Now there are plans to make Neighbour Day a truly global event as an official UN Observance Day following ratification by the General Assembly, which could lead to an International Year of Neighbourliness sometime in the future.
That would be a great development for an Australian idea which started off as a Letter to the Editor following the sad and lonely death of an elderly woman in her home.