Thanks to social media we have been lulled into believing that we are connected to people all the time. But it doesn’t take long for reality to remind us that it doesn’t make up for real, human interaction. People aren’t made to be islands. They are made for community. So how do you find and make new friends in Perth? Getting out there is the only way! The key is finding where your “out there” is. Depending on your reasons for moving here and your life circumstances, it will open a few doors for you straight away. Other times we have a clean slate and can open whatever other doors we like! Here is a few “friendly” ideas to get you started!
For the working professional
Many large companies have their own social clubs and regular outings planned. These are in addition to the obligatory Christmas parties and occasional office sausage sizzle. When you take up your new job, check with HR to see what social engagements and clubs that they have available. Your HR manager may also be able to suggest other clubs or associations that employees are welcome or encouraged to join.
For the sports lovers
Perth is very sports-friendly for kids and adults alike. Most weekend sports venues double as a social club also. Many sporting clubs have their own bars and clubhouses where after sports socialising is a major focus. To find your local club, simply lookup the governing authority of your sport in Western Australia and ask for the name of your local clubs and start having a look around! For younger kids in mainstream sports there is often heavily subsidised, commercially sponsored programs. Aldi sponsor Soccer, Milo sponsors Cricket, NAB sponsor AFL Auskick. All these programs make it even easier to find a club and start connecting with others!
For the ex-pats who are homesick
If you are new to Australia, homesickness is a real possibility that may work against you even more than those of us who simply moved interstate. Perth is a haven for ex-pats with stores and social clubs catering to even the most far-flung of new residents. A simply google of your cultural background and the word “Perth” next to it will reveal what Perth has to offer!
If you are a POM (Colloquial for a former resident of England) there is a forum for that (http://www.perthpoms.com/) and if you are South African there is a page for that(http://proudlysouthafricaninperth.com/) and many groups, churches and schools that teach Afrikaans. If you are a Kiwi there is just as many options!
Stores cater for bringing in home-manufactured goodies all over the city and suburbs. Everything from lollies from “back home” to washing powder to make everything smell the way mama made it! These stores are often the gateway to finding more connections that can help make your transition to this big new city, a bit more like home! Chances are you will even find someone who knows someone who knows you from back home and you can start rebuilding your network with a little taste of home thrown in to make it a bit less jarring.
Churches and other places of worship are also a great way to connect you with a community that will be more familiar to you and can help you quickly find people who have been through the exact things you are going through right now. Due to the highly multicultural mix that makes up modern Perth, there is the largest variety of churches and other religious organisations that you could hope to find anywhere in the world. Simply google what you are after, or Facebook search as many organisations and groups will have more social media presence than websites.
For young families
For families with working or stay-at-home parents, there is a huge range of services and support groups in Perth that can help you make new friends, with connection being their highest priority. Playgroups run by the Australian Playgroup Association litter the city and suburbs (https://playgroupaustralia.org.au/) and many other churches, community halls and support services run their own playgroups also. Full lists of what is available in your area can be accessed at your local Child Health Nurse office.
Child health nurses exist to help families get access to community services as well as provide regular check-ups for young children and run training and information sessions for new parents. Child Health Nurses also coordinate mother’s groups for mothers of new babies. If you have had a baby in the last 3 months you may be able to be added to a group. They are co-ordinated regularly to group mothers together who have had babies within 6 weeks of each other. You can find listings of these offices and other local health services through the Healthy WA site: http://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Service-search
Mothers of Pre-schoolers is an organisation that thrives in Perth due to the large population of families that have moved and need connection. Their major focus is on creating communities and relationships and support for mothers of young children. They meet fortnightly at a variety of locations and more information can be found on their website http://mops.org.au/
There are many regular meet-ups and events that are co-ordinated and advertised through the WA specific parenting site, Buggie Buddies http://www.buggybuddys.com.au/
Not sure where you fit or are after a fresh start?
Perth has made a variety of social networking meet-up sites thrive. Everything from secret Cake clubs (It is a thing! Google it…) to learning a new skill or language. People want to do things together! You can check out what is on offer through one of these websites which collate people’s ideas and offers and put them out there to find other like-minded people!