By Linda Geronimo Santos
During the course of preparing this short write up, I managed to have informal discussions with my constituency as Councillor for Blacktown City Council. I asked questions relating to the attraction of Blacktown City to them.
The consensus from the responses received is that generally, residents of Blacktown are content with the lifestyle, the diversity, the availability of services and resources, and the good relationship between the community and the Blacktown City Council.
It is a healthy partnership, and it bodes well for Blacktown and its diverse community.
So, why are Filipinos attracted to Blacktown?
The answers were quite along the following lines:
1. Family members who previously arrived from the Philippines already settled in Blacktown.
2. The ease and convenience of transport. Blacktown train station is next door to the Blacktown Shopping Centre, a few minutes’ walk to Australian Catholic University (Blacktown Campus). Buses, taxis, and Uber cars are available. Hospitals are close to the main centre, and accessible.
3. The community’s diversity is attractive because one can see and mingle with over 180 ethnic groups, creating a friendly atmosphere. This diversity contributes to understanding the various cultures and the habits and food choices of the different communities within Blacktown. One resident says, “If I want Chinese food, Thai, Filipino, Australian, Korean, etc., I do not need to go far to the city. The ethnic restaurants are abundant here in Blacktown.” The community is also able to celebrate their Filipino culture.
4. There are plenty of schools of all denominations in Blacktown. Parents do not have to travel far to take the kids to school.
5. There is a changing face of Blacktown. It is becoming more upmarket and more popular among the broader Australian community. The efforts of the Council in infrastructure, building sports centres, aquatic pools, even art centres, and the libraries all make Blacktown a more pleasant and attractive place to live.
6. Houses, compared to the rest of New South Wales, are more affordable. Most ethnic groups aim at buying a home/house as their first priority.
7. Religion is an open field in the community. We have Sikh, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Church of Christ, Pentecostal church, you name it. There will be a church or a building dedicated to one’s faith.
8. A positive relationship between the community and the Council. One resident said, “I needed a pick up of my waste and useless goods, and the Council promptly responded. I needed to cut my trees, and the Council would respond very quickly. Other councils are less accessible and co-operative with the locals. One more important thing is that Council rates are rarely increased, if at all.”
9. When I asked if they feel crowded, given that Blacktown has the largest council and the largest population in New South Wales, the response was “the bigger the population, the better – because it means the city is growing and progressing.”
10. Some negatives in relation to an element of crime in the area. The central location of the police station helps assuage the fear. Some respondents also discussed family violence as this is not common among Australians and new Australians, but even among family-loving Filipinos. The “mail-order bride” stigma in the 1980s has disappeared during the “people’s revolution” in the Philippines.
This article was first published in The Philippine Times, August 2021 edition when Linda Geronimo Santos was still Councillor for Blacktown City Council in NSW.
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