By RACHEL AFFLICK firstname.lastname@example.org BRUNSWICK HEADS resident Denise Wraight knows her neighbour, Fran Marrinon, is OK when her blinds go up of a morning.
It just a little technique%Denise has devised to make sure everyone in her neighbourhood is OK. Fran said the friendly, caring attitudes of her neighbours were what made Bower Street such a special place.
"It's nice to know if you need someone, there's always someone there," Fran said.
The recent discovery of an elderly man's body in his Sydney flat up to a year after he died has sparked questions about how a death could go unnoticed for such a long time.
As a result, The Northern Star is encouraging people to look out for their neighbours.
It's a situation the Red Cross is also trying to address by encouraging elderly or isolated people to register for their Telecross service.
As part of the service, every morning elderly and housebound clients are contacted by volunteers with a reassuring phone call to check they are safe and well.
The figures show just how well this system works: In NSW 1639 calls went unanswered in the six months to December, requiring follow-up phone calls to family members or emergency services.
The program has been so effective the Council on the Ageing wants it to be used as a model by state and federal governments, which have been criticised for unreported deaths in public housing.
But you and I can make a difference too, by helping a neighbour.
The locally-based Eclectic Management Consulting has released a plan we can all%follow.
If a neighbour is frail, living on their own, or has little outside contact, it's as simple as asking if they would like a regular friendly knock on their door, just to confirm they are safe and well.
According to the plan, it's also a good idea to watch for tell-tale signs of inactivity such as mail and newspapers not being picked up.
People interested in joining the Telecross service, or becoming a volunteer, should contact their local Red Cross office, or visit www.redcross.org.au.