Bidwill residents reject claims that suburb’s a public housing wasteland

URBAN Neighbours of Hope director Jon Owen regards Bidwill as home and wouldn’t live anywhere else, despite claims it’s a suburb in crisis.

He and other community leaders, recently interviewed for an ABC news report about the suburb, have hit back over the way it was portrayed.

The coverage included ‘‘tough love’’ comments from Family and Community Minister Pru Goward that Bidwill needed to change and that tenants viewed public housing as a privilege.

‘‘It was the most negative portrayal of what is a great community,’’ Mr Owen said. ‘‘There are many people doing great things.

‘‘The idea that no one here works is completely false. Privilege is a term rarely used in Bidwill.’’

Bidwill Uniting Church team leader John Dacey admitted the area had its struggles and some residents ‘‘fall through the cracks’’.

‘‘But there are people willing to make changes and get things happening here,’’ he said.

‘‘Telling people they’re useless isn’t going to change anything. These people need support, not hearing others bad-mouth the place.’’

Bidwill doesn’t have access to basic amenities others take for granted, such as local shops.

More youth activities are also needed, according to community leaders.

‘‘There are many opportunities to put in more support,’’ Mr Owen said.

‘‘There are groups that are willing to do things but there needs to be infrastructure.’’

AFL clinics were recently held in Bidwill for the first time since 1998.

Other positives included Cook Me Happy classes and mobile dental clinics. Mr Owen also hoped to build a youth centre in the area.

Mount Druitt MP Richard Amery said much had been done to improve Bidwill since the 1990s, including the refurbishment of public housing properties.

Mr Owen invited Ms Goward to visit Bidwill and meet those doing great things, such as the 33 students from Chifley College Bidwill’s class of 2013 due to start university.

‘‘The governments and welfare authorities need to sit down with the community. My hope from this is that it opens up a conversation.’’

Is Bidwill are suburb in crisis? Have your say at stmarysstar.

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