As the people who live closest to us, neighbours can be the first responders in an emergency or approached for small favours. But neighbours can also be a source of conflict, which can cause considerable distress for those involved. Despite widespread community concern about neighbour disputes, we know very little about these issues. This nationally funded research project conducted by The University of Queensland addresses this gap by examining neighbour problems as part of ongoing neighbourly relationships. Its aim is to uncover the sources of neighbour disputes; how they are managed; when people resort to third parties for assistance; and the consequences of neighbourly tension for individual well-being and ongoing neighbourly relations and interactions.  With this study, The University of Queensland’s School of Social Science aims to generate high quality empirical evidence which will result in more informed policy making and interventions.

As a client of the Dispute Resolution Branch we, are particularly interested in your experiences of neighbour disputes and the events that have brought you to dispute resolution. If you feel comfortable doing so, we invite you to share your experiences with us in order to help us better understand neighbour problems.

Project aims

The research project, funded by the Federal Government’s Australian Research Council, represents the first ever attempt to fully interrogate all aspects of neighbouring, including the problems that people encounter. The study will generate new knowledge on this important topic and will allow to test and refine existing theories.

The research aims to add to the empirical body of knowledge in several ways:

  • Existing knowledge on neighbouring is out of date and no longer is a reflection of what neighbouring is like today. New research is needed to gain a better understanding of the role of neighbours in people’s lives that is current and evidence-based.  
  • The benefits of good neighbour relations for disaster readiness, community care and crime reduction are well-known and policy makers are keen to promote more positive forms of neighbouring. But these cannot be designed or implemented effectively without empirical data on the different ways people relate to their neighbours at the everyday level.
  • Local councils, the police and neighbour mediation staff often spend considerable time dealing with problems between neighbours. Knowing how neighbours manage problems, what causes problems to escalate into conflict, and how ongoing neighbourly relations are damaged or sustained by problems and disputes, is of utmost importance to them.

Research team

The team carrying out the research brings to the table a broad skillset and experience in social science research. Leading the project are Dr Lynda Cheshire, Associate Professor in the School of Social Science, Dr. Robin Fitzgerald, Senior lecturer at the University of Queensland and Senior Lecturer in Geographical Information Science Dr. Yan Liu. Charlotte ten Have is the Research Manager for the current research.

Participating in the research

Your stories are valuable and will help us to successfully carry out the research and provide recommendations to councils, governments and other relevant stakeholders. We would therefore like to invite you and/or other members of your household to participate in an interview of approximately one hour, at a time and location of your choice – preferably your home, but you can also elect to meet us in a café or other public space if you prefer.

The interviews will be conducted from June 2016 onwards. As a sign of gratitude for your participation and time, interviewees will be awarded a $75 gift voucher.

If you would like to become involved in the research, please complete the Expression of Interest form.

Participation is voluntary

Participation in the research is voluntary. That means you do not have to answer any question and can stop the interview at any time for any reason. If you choose to withdraw from the study, we will not use any of the information you have given us.

Your privacy and the use of confidential information

It is important to us that your privacy is protected and that you cannot be identified as a participant in this research. We use several means to preserve your identity, including removing all identifiable information from any written material, such as names and addresses of people, the street, and the suburb. However, it is possible that neighbours will be able to identify each other in any report through the stories they tell, even when names etc. have been removed. We will reduce this possibility by omitting specific details from our reports that may lead others to identify you, but please be aware that this risk remains and only share information with us that you are comfortable having on public record. If you prefer, we can send you typed copies of your interview afterward so that you can decide if there is anything you would prefer we did not use.

Sometimes people elect to give us information ‘off the record’ because they believe it is useful for us to have this information, but they ask that we do not mention it in our reporting. Anything you designate as ‘off the record’ will not be used and the audio recorder will be switched off upon request. You can discuss this further with the researcher at the beginning of the interview to ensure you are aware of, and comfortable with, the provisions made in this regard.

Risk of participating

It has been calculated that the risks of participating in this research are no greater than the risks of everyday living. If, however, you feel any distress as a result of participating in the research, please feel free to discuss this with the researcher and/or a University ethics officer on 07 3365 3924.

Results of project

The results of study will be summarised and sent to you at various stages of the research process. You are also invited to contact the researchers and ask questions at any point in the study.

Getting in touch

If you would like to become involved, please fill out the Expression of Interest form. Alternatively, if you are interested to learn more about our study, you can also get in touch with us by contacting the Research Manager for this project, Charlotte ten Have, by e-mail at or by phone on 0487 122 326.

Project members

Professor Lynda Cheshire

Head of School
School of Social Science

Associate Professor Robin Fitzgerald

Associate Professor
School of Social Science