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Canberra Today 19°/22° | Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Florey flourishes as neighbours start talking

Neighbourhood Watch convenor Sharon Leigh-Hazel… “Florey is a fantastic place to live. We are not quite there yet but we want to be known as the friendliest and safest suburb in Canberra.”

One brave Florey local wrote a hundred letters to residents seeking to restore the northern suburb’s community spirit. APRIL MARCH reports on what happened… 

AFTER a spate of burglaries left the community of Florey unsettled last year, one brave local decided to write one hundred letters to one hundred residents in a bid to restore the northern suburb’s community spirit. And it worked.

“It all started when a lady named Rachel wrote to her neighbours because of what was happening and asked everyone to meet up,” longtime Florey resident and Florey Neighbourhood Watch convener Sharon Leigh-Hazel said.

“Everyone was meeting for the first time because of this note. We met and discovered that there were 25 homes in the neighbourhood that were burgled; but what we really uncovered was that no one knew each other. No one knew their neighbours. We all wanted that to change and to revive the sense of community that was lacking in Florey.”

The newfound neighbours, hungry for connection, formed a Neighbourhood Watch group. The rest is history.

“It just took off,” Sharon said.

“We haven’t had to do much for this to catch on.

“People are starved for connection. People want their communities back.”

One hundred and thirty members later, two successful “Clean up Florey” days, a coffee catch-up group, community forums, newsletters and an upcoming community fair; Sharon says Florey is well on its way to becoming the friendliest suburb in Canberra.

“That’s what we are aiming for,” she said.

“Florey is a fantastic place to live. We are not quite there yet but we want to be known as the friendliest and safest suburb in Canberra.”

Neighbourhood Watch has been in operation in Australia since 1983, with a primary focus on reducing burglary. Although its effectiveness has been questioned over the years, groups such as the Florey Neighbourhood Watch are leading the way in how it interacts with its residents.

Det-Supt Jamey Bellicanta, from ACT Policing, said Neighbourhood Watch played an important role in the community.

“We really value the strong relationship that exists between ACT Policing and Neighbourhood Watch ACT,” he said. 

“It’s a relationship that allows us to forge closer ties with the community and increase community confidence in police.

“Neighbourhood Watch is our ears and eyes in the community and plays a vital role in preventing community-based crime in the ACT.”

The Florey Neighbourhood Watch group will hold the “Fabulous Florey Community Fair” on Saturday, November 30, 10am-2pm, at Florey Primary School. 

“We are collaborating with the local primary school to promote government, community, health and sports services that can be used by residents and other neighbouring suburbs,” said Sharon.

“We have 40 stalls signed up plus food, entertainment, face painting and a jumping castle.

“Everyone is welcome to come… Florey has its community spirit back.”


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