The introduction of a community centre at Redbank Plains has seen an increase in people’s positive views of cultural diversity.
Ipswich City Council and the State Government opened the $1.9 million Redbank Plains Community Centre in May 2018. It is managed by Multicultural Australia.
An initial Redbank Plains Community Centre 2018 Baseline Study revealed some concerning statistics. But a 2019 social impact assessment: six-month study – part of a multi-year undertaking – shows positive feedback from the community.
“Of note is that the findings from the six-month study indicate that those community members who have visited and engaged with the Community Centre feel more welcome in the community (59 per cent compared to 45 per cent) and also have a more positive view of cultural diversity (75 per cent compared to 52 per cent), than those who have not visited or engaged with the Community Centre,” the report said.
Three out of every 10 residents in Redbank Plains were born overseas. And one in five speak a language other than English at home.
In the latest survey, respondents were asked about what strengths the Redbank Plains community has? The strengths included value of diversity, access to shops and services, growing community, sports and outdoors, friendly people, affordable housing, a great place for families, sense of community, proximity to other urban centres, people looking out for each other, great schools.
Some of the challenges listed included crime and safety, limited public transport, financial pressures, racism, support for new Australians, upkeep of public areas, quality of infrastructure, support for young people, traffic congestion, roads and access, hooning, odour, pressure of rapid development, high rates and renting, support for older people, mental health, stigma.
Respondents were also asked to reflect on those aspects of the community centre that they considered most valuable for the broader community. The leading responses included meeting new people, building and uniting the Redbank Plains community, services and activities for my children, meeting people from diverse backgrounds, accessing social services, and sharing skills and volunteering.
Community members and service providers were asked about their aspirations for the community centre. They pointed to programs for youth, mental health and emotional wellbeing, services for job seekers, children’s health, food relief, sports and exercise classes, trade/technical training, spaces for community groups to book for events and meetings, arts and crafts programs, youth programs, programs for seniors, health services.
“The six-month data suggests that social cohesion and social capital remain a challenge in the community, with moderate levels of cross-cultural connections, and a sense of community and welcome. Racism has persisted as a challenge and perceptions of safety also remain low,” the report concluded.
“However, for those who have participated at the community centre, there was a strong sense that the centre was providing meaningful opportunities for people to build social connections, with nearly 69 per cent of respondents reporting that they had met people from diverse cultural backgrounds at the community centre.
“Meeting new people” and “building and uniting the Redbank Plains community” also emerged as the top aspects of the centre that people felt were important.
“Participants also flagged key community strengths as including “friendly people”, ”people looking out for each other”, “a great place for families” and “sense of community”. This indicates ongoing opportunities for building social cohesion.”
The feedback was that there was a strong sense that the community centre was providing meaningful opportunities for building community capacity, including learning new skills, providing space for groups to meet, providing opportunities for volunteering and facilitating community meetings and forums.
Council said it will continue to track community capacity, employment and education data, attendance and engagement in skills-building classes, and the use of the Redbank Plains Community Centre for community meetings, community groups and community organising.
A 12-month survey has just been launched. If you live in Redbank Plains, you are invited to take part in the survey here