When Pat Daley founded the Neighbourhood Watch program in NSW in the 1980s, families were scared of housebreaking and "stranger danger".
"Instead of having police on every corner, we got the community on board," the former police officer told AAP.
"Neighbourhood Watch was enormously successful."
The program halved burglaries in the state within a couple of years, by encouraging neighbours to stay in touch to keep their communities safe.
Mr Daley concedes that almost 40 years later, the threats to community safety are quite different.
But he insists that the organisation is still necessary and relevant.
"Neighbourhood Watch is a major component of community policing...it's not a relic of the past," Mr Daley said.
"The community is wanting a vehicle to re-engage and fight crime."
The organisation is developing an updated model of looking at community safety, with neighbours using social media and mobile phones to keep a lookout.
Mr Daley says domestic violence and online safety for children are a particular focus.
"The big stranger danger issue is predators online and we have seen that escalate during COVID," he said.
Neighbourhood Watch is also looking at how it can help older people living at home alone, noting that the aged care system is under particular pressure.
He suggests elderly people develop a network of trusted neighbours, and not reveal to people that they live alone.
He also said communities are grappling with a surge in binge drinking parties, particularly in Sydney.
There are no current figures for the number of households still participating in Neighbourhood Watch, but Mr Daley says that's something he hopes to rectify at the organisation's upcoming conference.
The inaugural Neighbourhood Watch international conference will be held on the Gold Coast on May 21-22.