Melbourne has once again garnered the top position as the world’s most liveable city by The Economist, receiving a perfect score for healthcare, education and infrastructure. Being named for the seventh year in a row, you might have expected the majority of its occupants to be proud, or even rejoice in that fact. It cannot be denied that various government officials have reflected this expected pride. Lord Mayor Doyle appreciated the prestige, declaring this as a status that only a city like Melbourne has ever received. Even Premier Andrews sees this as a “win” for the country and its population in general.
Still, this ‘living’ testament was taken with more skepticism, doubt, and even horror, from the city’s very own specialists, critics, scholars and citizens. Arguments on the standards of liveability and where it was based was something raised and even questioned. From current discussions, the declaration was considered ignorant of the actual reality of the city, from the socio- economic status of the majority, to it being nothing more but a label made by executives of the upper class. The liveable standing also said to have failed to address the fear of stability in providing services and goods, given the approximated five million population just this year. The population is also expected to grow to more than eight million in the years to come with the trends in migration internally and externally and the birth rates.
Perhaps they’re right, to some extent. That perhaps the 30 factors of the liveability index were not taken in by the majority of the community. With this in mind, let’s have an ‘outsider’s’ perspective on the matter. Perhaps we should take a look into the major groups that have come and lived in the city.
At mid-year of 2016, statistics have shown that 28.5 percent of the resident population are immigrants, and about half of said population live in urban cities like Melbourne. One of the biggest migrant communities is from the Philippines.
For some, if not most in this community, living in a city like Melbourne is a dream come true, a destination of green pastures that many Filipinos wish to achieve. And with the permanent migration programs in Australia, being able to secure one’s place has never been more worthwhile and fulfilling. Thanks to one of the programs like skilled migration, Filipinos who can contribute positively in Australia with their skills, qualifications and working potential, are facilitated to have permanency.
Living in cities like Melbourne, we have come to understand the terms that come with living here. We understand that concerns of the further crowding public transportation, the growing queues in service areas like hospitals and markets. Crime, albeit inevitable, is noticed, and we can see the rise of rates in real estate by the year. Still, this does not compare to the status back home. The Philippines is where 2-4 hours traffic on a good day is a norm, and crimes and drugs are but a staple. Infrastructure is nowhere as good as the ones in Melbourne, and services, while existing, are hard to get with the high demand and low supply. The absurd rates and low pay make it hard to live in the Philippines. You can survive yes, but it is not living, like here in Melbourne.
We know that Melbourne is full of life and bursting with its potential for growth. For us Filipino-Australians, this cements that we made the right decision in coming and living here. The problems of congestion and possible overpopulation can still be addressed by the government, which we firmly believe can still use the growing community as an advantage in making it a stronger and productive one. For those who wish to live here, we wish that they be given the same opportunity that those of us who live here experienced.
We believe, just as much as the Economist did, that Melbourne can ‘live up’ to its title.