WESTIR Limited attended the launch of the Communities of Change Report in June 2018, a joint collaboration between Western Sydney Community Forum (WSCF) and St Vincent de Paul Society. The event was co-hosted by Western Sydney University and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) at Western Sydney University Parramatta CBD campus. The report provides an overview of the Greater Western Sydney region, outlining current population trends and projected growth, employment, community sector investment trends and health services and some preliminary projections. The aim of the report is to provide insights on changing landscape of Western Sydney to assist government, community sector organisations and the private sector “in making quality strategic decisions about future planning and investment in service delivery”.

The event was facilitated by Professor James Arvanitakis, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Western Sydney University who provided the acknowledgement of country. Paul Shepherd of PwC provided a speech outlining the company’s commitment to the region, signalled by its relocation to Parramatta in the heart of Western Sydney. He commended the report for highlighting Parramatta’s changing landscape and demographics and its potential to act as a guide for future investment and service delivery.

The report was officially launched by the Honourable Natasha Maclaren-Jones, Government Whip of the NSW Legislative Council. She highlighted the NSW’s Government’s commitment to major investments in Sydney and that this report can help guide investment in the Western Sydney Region.

Heather Nesbitt, Social Commissioner for the Greater Sydney Commission, spoke about the Commission’s overarching plan for redeveloping Sydney, a large part of which involves shifting the focus away from the Sydney CBD to Greater Western Sydney. CEO of St Vincent de Paul Society Jack de Groot lauded the partnership with the Western Sydney Community Forum. The organisation has traditionally focussed on addressing the present needs of disadvantaged members of the community, and this collaboration signals a shift towards a more proactive approach of forecasting future trends and allocating resources and services accordingly.

Billie Sankovic, CEO of WSCF, outlined the key features of the report and thanked her team for their tremendous work and effort. The report addresses population growth and future trends within Greater Western Sydney, along with indicators of wellbeing, planning landscape and investments in community services, along with preliminary projections of future trends.

The launch concluded with a brief panel discussion. Peter Prants (NSW Department of Family and Community Services) was impressed with the detail presented in the report and provides information to guide FACS’ resource allocation based on population forecasts.

Susan Goldie (St Vincent de Paul), envisions the report as a game changer that can help organisations plan strategically for the future needs of the community. Nafiye Mind (Blacktown Area Community Centres) is aware that the release of the report has potential for impact but that it also presented a challenge for small organisations to maintain their voice and influence within the sector. Eddie Jackson (Liverpool City Council) similarly stressed the importance of smaller organisations and local councils securing a “seat at the table” with the NSW Government and private sector organisations with regard to shaping the future of Western Sydney.

The WSCF will soon be taking the report around to Western Sydney Local Government Areas as part of a community sector consultation process. The report can be viewed here:

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