What our north needs

The Geelong Advertiser is currently running a series of stories and opinion pieces focusing on Geelong’s Northern suburbs.

With a mission to reduce disadvantage and increase social and economic participation, the progress of Geelong’s northern suburbs and the opportunities for its residents are important to the Foundation. We aim to enable change that creates a more equitable and fair community; one where every single member is able to live their best life.  The Foundation’s work through our programs such as GROW and Feed Geelong along with our annual grants focus on the areas that we see as critical to improving our community. Our hypothesis is to enable people to live their best life, everyone should have accessible and appropriate education which enables them to maintain a sustainable and sustaining job while, if necessary, being supported through a life limiting crisis

As printed in today’s Geelong Advertiser (Thursday 11 April 2019) our CEO, Bill Mithen, has outlined what he believes are the critical actions that need to be taken to enable a more equitable community.

  1. Employment Help

Further employment assistance as two key elements. The first is the creation and expansion of a group of inclusive employers in the region who are prepared to employ people who have multiple and often complex barriers to being employed. Employers who are prepared to give people a real go.

110 employers have signed the GROW (G21 Region Opportunities for Work) Compact.

GROW, developed and launched by Give Where You Live Foundation and G21 – Geelong Region Alliance works to generate jobs in areas of high unemployment.  We believe the Federal Government needs to think about the model of service it provides long-term jobseekers.  It needs to supply a better matching service for jobs and job seekers, and better ongoing support once in a job to ensure longer retention rates and jobseekers therefore gain the maximum benefit.

  1. Community Infrastructure

There is a noticeable lack of infrastructure in the north when compared to other areas of the region.  Where are the public pools, gyms, an amazing library like those in central Geelong and Bannockburn? – these are noticeably absent from the north.  The Northern Arc project goes to solving some of these challenges and the sooner that it is funded and built better.

  1. Transport

It can be very difficult for people making their way from the northern suburbs into Geelong to access services and employment. There needs to be some new thinking undertaken with regards to transport options for the northern suburbs. Bus services are certainly part of the solution as could be better use of the train line through the northern suburbs into Geelong. We need to ensure that the 25,000 people that live in the northern suburbs have the same access to central Geelong.

  1. Housing

There are 2,700 people in Barwon South West on the waiting list for public housing. Working around the edges of this issue – a couple of units here, a house there – is simply not enough.  Public and Social Housing needs to be completely rethought.  The current stock of housing, three and four bedroom homes often does not match the requests of single people and couples. New investment, more investment and new models of public housing that creates more stock and starts to house the thousands of people on waiting lists need to be developed.

  1. Attitude

What we as a community, and region, need to do is rethink the way we think about our northern suburbs.  We need to reflect on the conscious and unconscious biases we have about the northern suburbs of Geelong. There are 25,000 people living in the northern suburbs who are proud, passionate and incredibly resilient.  That story doesn’t get told enough.  There is too much focus on failings and our region should be promoting the positive stories of our city’s north.