20 April, 2020  By: Tatum Stafford

If there's one thing we Western Australians are known for, it's our ability to band together in the face of adversity. 

So it comes as no surprise that in this current time of uncertainty, WA communities are showing the rest of the country - and the world - how to stay connected.

Whether it’s a toilet paper tree in Mount Pleasant, free delivery for the elderly from a Mullaloo supermarket or care packages courtesy of a Freo bookshop, there are some amazing acts of kindness happening right now. 

Courtesy letter-drops

In recent months you may have come across independent group GetUp’s #IWillEatWithYou campaign, established to support local Asian eateries.

The group’s latest project is dubbed #ViralKindness, which aims to engage and connect local communities for solidarity, support and assistance in times of need.

The #ViralKindness movement is perhaps best known for its printable PDF community care postcards, which users can distribute not only to introduce themselves to their neighbours, but to offer assistance with picking up groceries, posting mail, walking a pet – or even a friendly phone call.

Community members can print off the postcard, fill in their contact details, list tasks they can assist with, and do a letterbox drop within their neighbourhood.

In a statement from GetUp national director Paul Oosting, “We don’t know how long this crisis will last, but we do know that people-power will have an important part to play. We’re safer apart, but stronger together.”

Image of GetUp card on table 

The City of Melville has collated similar resources in the form of ‘Dear Neighbour’ cards. Downloadable in a PDF format, the series of cards cater to a range of potential neighbourhood interactions; a ‘Let’s Catch Up’ card for introductions and general communication, a ‘Letting You Know’ card if you have potential disruptions around the house such as renovations or a party, and a ‘Common Concerns’ card for occurrences that require further discussion.

The ‘Let’s Catch Up’ cards are particularly relevant in keeping lines of communication open with your neighbours. As the community hub on the city’s website reads, “If there are new neighbours in the street, or perhaps an elderly person who lives alone, leave them your phone number. They may never use it, but they may feel vulnerable if they don’t have people close by they can call on in an emergency.”

'App-y days

The Nextdoor app is the world’s leading private social network for neighbourhoods. With more than 210,000 households in the United States relying on its services, the handy app launched in Australia in late 2018.

Nextdoor is free, user-friendly and secure; restricting communication to people who live close to one another, and ensuring posts are only visible to other members of your local community.

The co-founder and CEO of Nextdoor Nirav Tolia is passionate about connectedness, and says that "building connections and communities is a universal human need. Nextdoor helps people throughout Australia make local connections every day that help strengthen their neighbourhood – which is one of the most important communities in our lives.”

As a result of recent global uncertainty, the company is set to launch an interactive Help Map to Australian users this month. This handy tool allows users to mark themselves as available to help with tasks from grocery shopping to childcare.

An update to the app’s ‘Groups’ feature is also on the way, and is designed to allow users to connect with people further afield as a result of recent social distancing precautions.

Image of Nextdoor app  

How social media is easing social distance

In 2020, one of the most practical ways Australians can connect is via online communities on social media. A whopping six in ten Australians use Facebook - and thanks to its popular ‘group’ functionality, it’s never been easier to build digital communities of people with similar locations, interests, or passions.

One such Facebook group that has emerged within Perth is the ‘CCC’ - Coronavirus Community Care Perth. Created and administered by Mental Health and First Aid Instructor Katherine (Kat) Houareau, the group has seen a growth of over 51,000 local Facebook users within just a fortnight.

Motivation to create the group came naturally to Kat, who credits her participation in Facebook groups around the globe as inspiration.

“I wanted to create something that would not only bring people together as a community, but exist to support the community,” notes Kat.

Image of girl painting chalk rainbow
A photo from the CCC Perth Facebook group (Credit: Katherine Dowling)

A scroll through the Facebook group will reveal all sorts of community posts; from uplifting stories from the local supermarket and links to government-issued resources, to call-outs from good samaritans with extra food or time to run errands for those in need.

As the group continues to grow, Kat has plans to expand its reach and functionality.

“We’re developing an online program using Zoom. We’ve got clinical psychologists, researchers from ECU, support workers, mums and dads, and the list goes on.

“It’s about empowering people to make a difference – that’s what we’re here for.”

How is your community staying connected during this time?

Head over to our Facebook page to share your ideas and photos with us. 

Image credit: Stewart Allen, GetUp, Nextdoor App, Katherine Dowling. 

Kids smiling in their family home

RAC Home Security

If you’d like to improve your home security, RAC can provide you with a free in-home security consultation, plus as an RAC member you will enjoy a range of discounts on home security products.

Enquire now