In a similar way, a Good Shepherd research project is having an impact that is spreading through the Westpark community on the outskirts of Hastings.
Westpark is home to a number of low income families. It also contains a number of people who hold the community dear to their hearts - people like Selina George and Chris Roberts. Selina and Chris have children at Westpark Primary School in Hastings. When they heard about Good Shepherd's "Uplift" research project, which aimed to help parents identify how they could improve their children's education, they were immediately keen to be involved.
"My kids mean everything to me, and I thought I could learn a few things about their education and talk about ideas for the school and the community," says Selina.
During their discussions, the parents agreed that their children had a better chance of success in education and in life by living in a strong, healthy, safe community. So they turned their attention to persistent problems in Westpark. They requested a meeting with local politicians and Councillors to discuss what could be done to strengthen the community.
The discussions were so fruitful that when the research project finished, the women continued to meet regularly as the Westpark Residents Action Group.
Selina believes the open reserve in the middle of Westpark lowers the tone of the whole area. "Our community is built around that park, but it's just really dark and dismal and covered in graffiti," she says. "It should be well-lit, welcoming and family friendly, get some barbecues in there, maybe a skate park, just make it a place where families feel happy and safe."
Chris Roberts also has strong views on how the community could be improved. "We need to do something about the illegal dumping of rubbish," she says. "It would help lift the atmosphere in the community, make it more family friendly and accessible."
The Victorian Government has now pledged $120,000 to revitalise the park, while the local Council is looking into the rubbish dumping problem.
"I feel that we're coming up with some good ideas, and changes are starting to happen," says Chris. "I feel that we're actually being listened to. And I think a lot of that started with the Uplift research project."
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