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Backing for old neighbourhoods

Sunchine Coast Daily
25th September 2011

MICHELLE McAllister and her team are on a mission to put the neighbourly back in our neighbourhoods.

As the Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre's Sunshine Coast manager, Ms McAllister is steering the local response to a new national neighbourhood support in-itiative that aims to connect people living in the same street or nearby.

It may be an indictment on modern society that the Street by Street program is needed, but Ms McAllister yesterday said the isolated elderly and the disabled in particular needed it to be successful.

"The main purpose of the program is to help support people to remain living independently in their community, and it could be (achieved by) someone keeping an eye on you," she said.

"If you live alone and are an older person, knowing there's someone on the street keeping an eye out for you (is very reassuring). Imagine if you had a fall and no one knew."

That is what happened to a 92-year-old Noosa woman earlier this month.

Police said the woman survived the fall, but died alone. Her daughter eventually discovered the body.

The unfortunately all-to-common incident was followed by the home death of an 89-year-old Doonan woman, who is thought to have been dead for several days before her body was discovered.

The deaths encouraged police to urge people to get to know their neighbours, and the tragedies further reinforced in Ms McAllister's mind that there was a need for Street by Street.

However she stressed that participants in the link-up would not be volunteers, but would form a voluntary relationship with their neighbours "as neighbours", similar to Neighbourhood Watch.

It was not about rules and regulations, but was more natural.

She said the focus of the Centre for Civil Society program was on practical helping tasks, such as taking out the garbage or hanging washing for someone.

Her organisation, part of Suncare Community Services, might get the ball rolling by introducing neighbours through an informal get-together.

"It's about putting people in touch with communities again and trying to bring back the sense of community we had years ago," she said.

To register for Step by Step, go to


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