Cash injection a priority
MAYOR CALLS FOR GOVERNMENTS TO STEP UP WITH SUPPORT
A NEW report that provides a snapshot of the Blacktown and Mt Druitt communities should be a wake-up call for governments to pour cash into the area, says Blacktown Mayor Stephen Bali.
Blacktown Council’s social report paints Mt Druitt as resilient community that values family, but faces serious challenges in employment, drug use and childhood development.
Eleven suburbs within the Mt Druitt precinct were the most disadvantaged in Blacktown area, the report said.
While neighbours supported each other despite their own difficult circumstances, those on lower incomes say the cost of living is too high.
The Mt Druitt area continues to have the highest total fertility rate, which means there is increasing demand for early childhood services in the area.
Latest figures show the unemployment rates have steady increased over the past few years, and residents cited lack of local jobs as a major barrier.
Bidwill-Hebersham-Emerton have an unemployment rate of 21.2 per cent, at Lethbridge Park-Tregear the rate is 19.9 per cent and it’s 16.1 per cent in Mt Druitt-Whalan.
“The trend was concerning with the improvements seen during 2012 to 2013 disappearing,” the reports stated.
Much of the data came from focus groups and forums with thousands of residents across the community.
Cr Bali said the area had been hit hard by the loss of manufacturing jobs.
While the council had made efforts to boost employment such as favouring local businesses in tenders and approving business parks, there needed to be a combined effort from all levels of government, Cr Bali said.
“The document itself is an extremely important resource to be able to use as a benchmark to come up with legitimate ways of addressing the challenges we face in our community,” he said.
“Unfortunately both Federal and State Governments have deprived a lot of funding for valuable support networks, and this document allows us to lobby to reinstate some of this.”
Funding cuts to social services such as domestic violence support and Eagle RAPS had impacted the area, he said.
The council will use the report to meet with service providers and government agencies in the coming months to identify priorities for the area.