Monday, 29 June 2020 19:55

President's message: Supporting communities through COVID

As we continue to adjust to the changing reality that is COVID, WSROC has continued its advocacy for support for our Western Sydney councils and communities to ensure that no-one falls through the cracks. As such, we have supported the  Refugee Council of Australia’s Nobody Left Behind campaign which asks the Federal Government to extend its COVID-19 response to people seeking asylum and temporary visa holders. Ensuring everyone has access to basic services, housing and support at this time is ultimately of benefit to the whole of the Western Sydney community; and Australia more broadly.

In June, WSROC welcomed the NSW Government’s latest support package for increasing refugee education and as an encouraging step. As iterated in our May meeting with acting Minister for Multiculturalism, Geoff Lee: state support is critical for ensuring local councils and community organisations can manage the increased demand for delivering key services to humanitarian arrivals in Western Sydney communities.

Just five Western Sydney councils – Fairfield, Liverpool, Blacktown, Cumberland and Parramatta – settle over 70 per cent of NSW’s refugee intake. Councils have long played a key role settling refugees into communities: from convening place-based settlement programs and sector support, to frontline service delivery, and building community cohesion via cultural celebrations.

WSROC’s response to the funding announcement is to continue to urge for collaborative, consultative partnering between state and federal governments and local government, drawing on councils’ critical local knowledge and front-line position in building cohesive, connected communities. We will continue to pursue this line of advocacy for the benefit of our councils and for the enrichment of our region’s communities.

Attracting local employment and investment is also a critical strategy for building strong, resilient communities post-COVID. In a new report released by the Western Sydney University this week[1], a sobering portrait of the region’s ‘jobs deficit’ brings planning gaps to the fore. Indicators to date show an increasing disconnect between the resident labour force and jobs available within the region.

With more than 300,000 people leaving Greater Western Sydney each day for work, and projections of an economic downturn, securing the future of Western Sydney’s resident workers is becoming increasingly urgent. The new Nancy Bird-Walton Airport will no doubt bring transport and employment wins to Western Sydney, however we should not become complacent on this issue. Ongoing planning, investment and advocacy are needed to ensure the liveable, sustainable, and connected future we want to see is achieved in Greater Western Sydney.

Looking ahead to July, WSROC and six regional councils will be participating in the Plastic Free July initiative, undertaking a commitment to activities that reduce plastic use region-wide and hopefully help to implement some lasting changes. Also coming up is the launch of the Western Sydney Business Energy Advice Program, which will provide local businesses with tailored practical support to save energy cost and emissions.

In this month’s e-news you can catch up on key news items, reports and related reading in a new section – Topical reads.



Last modified on Tuesday, 30 June 2020 14:23