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This year COVID-19 restrictions has seen frequent-flying Australians unusually home-bound. As a result, our homes and communities have been placed under the spotlight and for many, this has sparked a newfound appreciation for their neighbourhood.

Australian social researcher, Dr Rebecca Huntley says “The quality of streets and environments closest to our homes has taken on new importance. Australians have always embraced outdoor living but our outdoor spaces are now even more important when it comes to our physical and mental health. With interstate and overseas travel off the agenda, a trip to the dog park with kids becomes an adventure and a life saver.”

New research[1] Stockland conducted found the pandemic has reinforced the influence of our homes and communities on our health. The majority of Australians (81%) now understand that their home and their environment are key to their wellbeing.

“People now view their homes as a cocoon, a refuge for them and their families and their community as the safe bubble,” - Dr. Rebecca Huntley

Research also shows people have become friendlier over the pandemic with nearly half (43%) now having regular conversations with their neighbours as opposed to just a third (36%) pre-COVID. This has confirmed the importance of living within a connected community.

“Over my 15 years as a social researcher, I’ve heard Australians lament the possible loss of local community connections, that we don’t know our neighbours well. COVID-19 has kick started some important behaviour change. One way to get through a crisis? Get to know your neighbours,” Dr Huntley says.

Here are a few ideas on how to make the most of your local community:

  • Explore new walking routes or tracks when you are outside for your daily exercise or walking the dog
  • Take advantage of the bike paths and go on a family bike ride
  • Enjoy the sunshine and have a picnic in a park with family and friends
  • Support a local cafe by organising a coffee date with a neighbour
  • Gather a few local friends for a game of football at one of the sports fields
  • Join community pages to keep up to date with news and events in your area
  • If you haven’t already, go over and introduce yourself to your neighbours

 

[1] Stockland Research August 2020 (N=1,199)