Neighbourhood power at work in East Melbourne


Companionship is an asset when it comes to health.

Our ability to live, work, and cooperate in groups is important to our health. Conversely, isolation can be harmful.

Our East Melbourne Neighbour Network (EMNN) was established in 2017 by a group of residents in response to the idea that we could influence our own social wellbeing. We decided that everyone has something to offer so we banded together to support, engage, and connect residents in our local community.

Fast forward four years to 2021 and the COVID-19 pandemic. We now appreciate even more the importance of community and that “the health of our nation begins in our street”. Our health and wellbeing were impacted as people retreated to apartments, home offices and local parks. It has highlighted the importance of having our local network to help connect community members and assist with social isolation and mental health.

As lockdown restrictions ease, it has spurred the group to expand our thriving and inclusive range of community activities.

These activities (health qigong, tai chi, gentle exercise, pilates, ukulele, meditation) have all been embraced by the community. The demand continues to grow as the group tries to reach out to families, younger and single residents in the area and tap into their needs, interests and creative desires.

The success of the current EMNN Health and Wellbeing Program and the community demand for extra activities and programs further highlights the need for a reliable and suitable space for these activities. The Term 2 program had to drop two classes on Wednesdays because space was not available. There was unmet demand for more classes in Terms 1 and 2 and now there is an even longer waiting list for those who have expressed interest in participating in new classes and activities.

EMNN is currently preparing Term 3 and 4 calendars of activities. It aims to include new classes and activities such as walking groups, an assisted walkers’ group (for those who feel more confident with companions for a steadying hand), a mature movers’ class, a yoga class, a foodie group, table tennis, music in the park and more.

New ideas are sought from the community as we seek to provide additional meaningful, fun, and engaging activities for all age groups. Any resident of any age who would like to get involved; the EMNN would love to hear from you.

Your ideas and involvement will help strengthen our community and enhance the health and wellbeing of your neighbours.

Contact the East Melbourne Neighbour Network by emailing Susan Henderson (sjhenderson52@icloud) or Ann-Maree Eckersley ([email protected]) •

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