Where will the children play?
I recently ran a training session at the City of Bankstown, in Sydney’s south-west. This is a fascinating area, demographically. It is one of the most culturally diverse areas in Australia, with 55% of the population speaking a language other than English at home (particularly Arabic and Vietnamese), and some of the lowest socio-economic areas in Sydney. It is also a tale of two cities, bisected by the M5, with well off areas of predominantly Australian-born population to the south, and mainly overseas-born lower income households in the north. Bankstown are keen users of atlas.id to look at the spatial differences within the LGA.
One of the most intriguing trends in Bankstown in recent years has been the large increase in young children, particularly in the higher density parts of the city, around Bankstown station. Ivan mentioned this in his blog about family apartment living in Australia over two years ago. The 2011 Census shows big increases in 0-4 year olds everywhere in Australia, and an increasing concentration around Bankstown station.
This is very unusual in Australia – in percentage terms, the concentration of under 5s around the Bankstown CBD, at 11.4%, is equivalent to that found in any fringe first home buyer area on the metropolitan outskirts. In most parts of Australia, apartments are targeted at singles and couples – here, they are almost used by families. Now, these apartments are no bigger in Bankstown – most (66%) have only 1 or 2 bedrooms. But they are favoured by the predominantly overseas-born community as places to rent and bring up a family. 73% of the Bankstown CBDs 18,000 residents speak a language other than English at home. Many of these are from countries where bringing up families in apartments is the norm, and have clearly embraced this in Australia as well.
atlas.id lets you get into even more detail than this. Zooming in on an area just south of the station, we see that the percentages of children here are truly astounding – 15-20% of population aged under 5 (about 300 kids), and another 5-10% aged 5-11 (about 200 kids).
Notably, just across the road, in the detached housing, there are very few children – only about 35 under 5s in an area the same geographic size as the high density area. These 3 blocks to the west of Stacey Street
And just to the south is Stevens Reserve, a large open space with a childrens’ playground – the only significant open space for all the children in this area. As you can imagine, this is quite an important resource for these kids!
Unfortunately, that land may be required to realign an intersection along the very busy road nearby, in the near future.
atlas.id, as shown here, gives Bankstown City Council hard evidence about the need for a park in that area, enabling them to negotiate with the roads authority to retain this open space, or provide alternatives within the local area.
The trend towards families living in apartments is happening in many areas of our major cities, but nowhere else to such an extent as in Bankstown. This block represents one of the highest densities of 0-4 age population in the country, and it’s a clear example of how the detailed spatial information in atlas can inform decision making and assist in local government advocacy.
The training sessions that .id runs at your council can help your staff use the tools in this way, and can also bring out really interesting stories like this one, in your local area.
If you’re interested in organising staff training for your area (normally included in your council subscription), or would like more information about atlas.id, please contact us at .id or visit our website.