Working with the community

Parramatta's intention is to work with the community and encourage people to participate in making the City a better and safer place in which to live, work or visit. Council's aim is not to direct activities but to assist the community to clarify issues of concern, identify strategies to address those issues and become involved in action plans.

Three initiatives which demonstrate this community development approach are the Graffiti Solutions Program, Self Serve Banking for Older Australians and the Safer Communities Project.

Graffiti Solutions involves Council working with young people. It aims to avoid the proliferation of anti social, costly graffiti and encourage young artists to paint on 'legal' surfaces. This program is unique as it also helps the participants to gain business skills so they can market their talents commercially.

Following a successful six month program, the Parramatta Heritage Centre recently hosted the results of these endeavours &endash; an exhibition of graffiti art, titled 'Kolour Skeme Team'. Lord Mayor Cr Paul Garrard said the program, which involved 30 talented young people, is a positive way of encouraging youth to work with the local community and not against it.

'Self Serve Banking for Older Australians' is a joint initiative involving Council, the banking industry and senior citizens groups which aims to address the difficulties older people face in using modern banking services. This project recognises that technology is playing an ever increasing role in everyday life and that the ability to use modern equipment is essential to avoid being disadvantaged or isolated.

During this year's Seniors' Week, older people were invited to a series of demonstrations to assist them in making the transition to electronic banking.

Council's Community Development Unit is providing logistical support to the project in the form of meeting and exhibition space, mailouts and ongoing publicity.

Rather than allowing feelings of powerlessness to dominate some people's views of personal safety, the Safer Communities Project gives local communities the means to tackle the issues head on.

A Safer Communities Audit package has been developed which provides local groups with a step by step guide to improving safety in their area. Audits are conducted during the day and night to identify potential safety problems, such as poor street lighting or broken pavements.

"Each community is different and has its own problems," said Lord Mayor Paul Garrard. "Local residents have a unique knowledge of their community and can often come up with innovative and effective solutions."