Nameless Neighbors – State of Neighborly Relations in Australia Revealed

January 10, 2019 | Sydney | By Barkha Patel
  • Three quarters of Aussies don’t speak to their neighbors
  • 58 percent want to get to know their neighbors better
  • Mastercard is breaking down the barriers between neighbors in one street in Melbourne, by replacing fences with tennis nets

Being closer to a neighbor would make 90 percent of Aussies happier, but fear of rejection and feeling awkward is holding them back, according to new research released by Mastercard today in collaboration with The Happiness Institute.

While they might have met, 77 percent hardly talk to and know very little about their neighbors. Over half (54 percent) couldn’t tell you their neighbor's name and a quarter (25 percent) wouldn’t recognize them out in the community.

Half the nation (56 percent) admit to avoiding their neighbors. On the flip side, one in five (19 percent) have tried sparking up a conversation only to be left red-faced when they got knocked back.

Despite this, 58 percent of Aussies do have a desire to get to know their neighbors better, and almost two thirds (63 percent) would feel more socially connected if they had a better relationship with next door.

As a nation passionate about sport, perhaps it’s not surprising that two thirds (66 percent) would exercise with a neighbor if asked.

With the Australian Open just days away, official payment partner Mastercard is asking all Australians to pick up a tennis racket and rally together. Tennis maintains your health, fitness and relationships so there is no better way to rekindle friendships than through a sport that’s proven to boost social connectedness.

Mastercard has broken down the physical barriers that divided neighbors in Hampton, Melbourne, taking down their backyard fences, and replacing them with tennis nets for people in the community to come together over a rally – all in the name of inspiring new friendships.

Dr Tim Sharp, chief happiness officer at The Happiness Institute says, “Aussies feel significantly happier when they’re socially connected. When it comes to our neighbors there’s a huge gap in how close we are, to how well we know each other.”

Just three percent of Aussies currently socialize with their neighbors and as few as two percent would ask for a favor.

“Tennis is a powerful way to bring people together and improve relationships. As we’ve seen, neighbors who rally together talk more, bond more, and feel the sense of community spirit they’ve been missing,” Dr Sharp adds.

Commenting on the neighborly rally, Craig James says, “Up until today we’d exchange a friendly smile or wave with the neighbors, but not know anything about them. When we removed the fence and replaced it with a tennis net we got to know each other over a rally – all of us feel more social and connected. The barriers are down and we are all looking forward to our next game!”

Anne Wall, vice president, marketing & communications for Mastercard says, “New Year is a time to remind ourselves that we all have the power to do something meaningful. Mastercard is encouraging everyone to take the opportunity to rally together with family, friends, and even their neighbors. Tennis is a sport for everyone, so grab a racket and help create something positive. Who knows, you might even make a new friend!”

Barkha Patel, Vice President, Communications, International Markets (IMK), Mastercard

Media Contacts

Mel Circosta, Mastercard
Jade Barringer, Agency (Eleven PR)

About the research

Research was conducted by The Happiness Institute on behalf of Mastercard on a sample of 1,070 Australians nationwide. Research was conducted to explore the current connections Australians have with their neighbors. The full report can be accessed here.


Mastercard and the Australian Open

Mastercard is the Official Payment Partner of the Australian Open Series. Mastercard is encouraging fans to pick up a racket and challenge their friends (or even strangers) to a rally on the Mastercard Beach Tennis Court this Australian Open.

About Mastercard (NYSE: MA)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.