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Council measuring social impact of new community infrastructure

29 November 2018

Redbank Plains is one of the fastest growing suburbs in one of Australia’s fastest growing cities.

In May 2018, a new $1.9 million community centre in the suburb was officially opened.

Ipswich City Council’s Community Engagement Branch is undertaking a multi-year social impact assessment, to track the impact of the community centre over time. The first results have now been analysed and reported in The Redbank Plains Community Centre: 2018 Baseline Study Results.

“We know that community infrastructure such as community centres has a positive impact on the local community, but we wanted to measure this impact over time,” said Arts, Social Development and Community Engagement Chief Operating Officer, Caroline McMahon.

About 120 people and 13 organisations provided insight into local community experiences through two surveys and a focus group in June and July 2018.

Some of the baseline study results included:

  • 52 per cent of households in Redbank Plains are renting
  • 64 per cent of residents are aged 34 or younger, compared to 53 per cent in Ipswich
  • 30 per cent of residents were born overseas
  • The unemployment rate is 12 per cent, above the broader rate of 9 per cent for the City of Ipswich
  • Almost one in two people have no qualifications
  • 53 per cent of residents felt somewhat unsafe or very unsafe walking alone in Redbank Plains
  • One in three people are involved in community groups
  • 70 per cent said they have no connections to cultural groups other than their own
  • About 46 per cent agreed or strongly agreed they feel welcome in the community.

Ms McMahon said while there obviously remain persistent challenges around cross-cultural community building, which are contributing to perceptions of a lack of safety and an underwhelming sense of welcome and acceptance, there were also many encouraging signs.

“There is an overwhelming perception that diversity is a positive factor for the community, indicating that there is capacity for community building that will be positively received. In particular, addressing the perceptions about the lack of safety in the area will help to foster a stronger sense of community, which is more in line with people’s aspirations,” she said.

The data in this report forms a baseline against which future monitoring or results will be assessed.

“We will continue to track social cohesion and social capital based on people’s connections to community groups and cultural groups, people’s sense of welcome, and people’s sense of safety.

“We will continue to track community capacity, drawing on ABS employment and education data, attendance and engagement in skills-building classes, and the use of the community centre for community meetings, community groups and community organising.”

There will be further surveys of the fast-growing Redbank Plains in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

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