Bellambi is the pilot location for the It’s Our Place initiative. Bellambi is a suburb of Wollongong in the Illawarra, NSW. Bellambi was selected to be the pilot location after extensive data analysis from deep community engagement across the Illawarra highlighted the high level of need in the community and a readiness from residents for change.
Bellambi is located on Aboriginal land of the Dharawal people. It is situated 7km north of the Wollongong CBD, in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven region. Bellambi is home to around 4,000 people and 1,061 families.*
Approximately 32% of the population lives in social housing, and 41% of the households are in the lowest quartile for income.*
In 2015 childhood vulnerability was 32.6% according to the AEDC Census Data.
Work commenced in 2015 with the development and co-design of a community led Action Plan. The Action Plan focused on the needs and the aspirations of the community based around four themes:
Safety and the Physical Environment
Learning, Education and Employment
Connections, Support and Inclusive Communities
Community Focused Services
Together as a collaboration we created 123 actions for the first Action Plan, which were implemented over the following two and half years.
Over the first 3 years we saw incredible changes in the community and a strong sense of community pride developing.
Bellambi Safety Group
In 2015 a group of community members, alongside members from Wollongong City Council and the It’s Our Place team formed the Bellambi Safety Group. The BSG meets monthly and cleans up rubbish, removes graffiti and raises public awareness. Group membership is growing frequently as the group extends their engagement into different areas in Bellambi.
In response to community concern about Domestic Violence Wollongong Police and TAFE Illawarra designed and ran a mentoring program for leaders in the community. These DV mentors are now able to provide assistance and direction to residents who require support and safety.
Cleaner, Safer Streets
Residents are also reporting that Bellambi is looking much cleaner and that people are now taking ownership of their litter, there is less illegal dumping – residents are now contacting Council for pickup, and local school children are no longer complaining of litter and rubbish. Graffiti has also been reduced. Residents are also saying they feel much safer in Bellambi and have an increased rapport with local Police.
“When I first moved to Bellambi as a single woman, I felt scared. I didn’t know anyone and there was lots of rubbish.
Now I feel safe in Bellambi. The community is more inclusive and there’s no more rubbish around the place”
Drop in childhood vulnerability
In 2015 we found that close to no children in the community were enrolled in preschool. Childhood vulnerability scores from AEDC indicated that the early childhood population in Bellambi was one of the most at risk in the Wollongong. In 2016 we engaged with local families to encourage preschool enrolments, 18 of 25 families enrol children in preschool the following year. The 2018 AEDC scores showed children in Bellambi were less vulnerable than in 2015.
We have now commenced Phase Two of the work with community through a deep engagement and co-design process once again. Building on the great changes and strengths within Bellambi from Phase 1 and growing the sustainability of the work to addresses more challenges that community is ready and willing to tackle. A focus on community cohesion, children and family, safety and the environment, education and employment, along with infrastructure improvement are key to this phase of work.
*ABS Census 2016