Sydney Olympic Park Community
Community development is a continuous work in progress where members of the community are supported by local or national agencies in taking a collective effort on matters that are important to the community. Community development creates a deep sense of connectedness and empowerment within the community. It is a well-rounded approach that involves human rights, empowerment, social justice, economic and ecological sustainability, inclusion, collective efforts and self-determination (Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2022). These core characteristics of community development will be discussed in the paper using the case study of the Sydney Olympic Park Authority Community Development Plan June 2020-June 2022.
Sydney Olympic Park Authority is an international sporting and global events precinct covering 430 hectares of land and is the abode of 25,000 people living, studying and working there (Sydney Olympic Park, 2021). The community is home to 250 species of native animals and more than 400 species of native plants along with three ecological communities that are endangered and is dependent on the habitat of the Park. The vision of the Sydney Olympic Park Master Plan 2030 is to identify opportunities in transforming the area into an urban centre with improved land use, residential and commercial communities and employment opportunities. The objective of the Community Development Plan (CDP) is to improve the community aspects and liveability of this vision in developing a thriving place to work and live (Sydney Olympic Park, 2021). The CDP also aims to inspire the people and the community to take responsibility for the place and help in maintaining and conserving the natural environment. It focuses on developing the place with thriving public space, amenities and services promoting local harmony and liveability.
A social theory that can be observed in the Community Development Plan of the Sydney Olympic Authority in the framework of structural functionalism. Structural functionalism can be described as a philosophy, which informs that the relationships, institutions, norms and roles together make a society that serves a unified purpose and each of the elements is interrelated to each other and is essential for the prolonged existence of one another along with the society (Izadi et al., 2020). Social change in structural functionalism is described as an extensible response to some changes or tension inside the social structure. When part of a social system changes, a rift is created among all the other parts which can be resolved through an adaptive action.
The Sydney Olympic Park community includes 3,371 residents, and local businesses such as over 50 cafes and restaurants, childcare, gyms, medical centres and several convenience stores (Sydney Olympic Park, 2021). Around 19,000 people commute to Sydney Olympic Park for work and 2,000 students for the purpose of the study. Most of the residents and students in the community are from diverse racial backgrounds and many are international ex-pats. The Sydney Olympic Park community falls under the City of Parramatta Local Government Area (LGA) (Stevenson et al., 2020). Hence, the community shares its boundaries and the amenities they provide with four more LGAs. The Park also has diverse users like cyclists, sportspersons and biodiversity activists.
Sydney Olympic Park Authority Community Development Plan
The CDP ensures that the community is engaged in their aspirations and needs, involving innovative and creative solutions and providing strategic planning delivering amenities and assets within their budget. The CDP ensures that the stakeholders of the community are connected to the right channels and networks for the benefit of the community and better outcomes for society. The CDP also plans to create programs, activities and events that connect with the needs of the community in order to construct a community capacity.
The CDP approach is grounded in understanding who the stakeholders, community and customers are and knowing their aspirations and needs for developing a better community in a meaningful manner. The responsibilities of the Sydney Olympic Park Authority are:
- Developing long-term plans for proper land use
- Developing an inclusive, accessible, culturally vibrant and liveable area
- Protecting the natural environment of the Park.
- Enhancing management of the sports facilities, public transport and public spaces
- Improving coordination and orderly functioning of the activities in the precinct.
- Programs to educate the mass and promote the legacy of the Paralympic and the Olympics.
- Promoting the legacy of the existing environment
- Encouraging community programs, education and awareness programs.
- Establishing sports programs at the community level (Sydney Olympic Park, 2021).
The sustainable practices for community development highlighted in the Sydney Olympic Park Authority Community Development Plan can be addressed as follows:
- Environment- The environment factor of sustainable CDP practices involves understanding the irreplaceable and fragile components in the community and knowing how to reconstruct structures in economical ways incorporating existing resources (Mensah, 2019). The environmental aspect of the sustainable practices should also abide by existing local or state policies in relation to the use of natural resources in the community. The Sydney Olympic Park CDP action plan includes strategies to renew and continue sustainability programmes such as Saving our Species Workshop, Biodiversity Forums, Threatened Species Day and Urban Bird Workshop (Sydney Olympic Park, 2021). The action strategies also include developing night-time events and twilight events for enhancing the after-work recreation projects. They also plan to improve the built environment by improving existing structures and incorporating inclusion and improving accessibility to all. Improving community awareness of parks and open spaces is another strategic action for improving public facilities and amenities. Delivering initiatives such as cyclist-friendly and pet-friendly initiatives, developing affordable housing schemes and programmes, building community gardens, and investigating options for smoking spaces are some of the actions and ideas that the CDP aims to achieve.
- Socio-cultural- The socio-cultural aspects of a community involve knowing the community’s history and celebrating the culture of the place so that the community can progress and grow from learning and experiencing the culture and history of the place (Fu & Ma, 2020). The socio-cultural aspects focus on reducing negativity around specific cultures, seeking community collaboration and increasing future opportunities (Dayton, Aceves?Azuara & Rogoff, 2022). Some actions that the Sydney Olympic Park Authority Community Development Plan has planned are improving the existing community activities like Park Care programmes, Innovation Games and Park Rangers; establishing volunteering programmes; hosting local cultural programmes and celebrations to mark cultural inclusiveness; spending on building street libraries; enhancing the local community character by introducing physical interventions like outdoor furniture, public art, and pop-up play area for children, building pavilions to host public events (Sydney Olympic Park, 2021).
The community development practices to ensure better liveability and a thriving community that the Sydney Olympic Authority CDP plans to incorporate in their action plan are:
- Engaging the community- The action plan of the CDP includes designing and developing a community engagement structure.
- Health awareness campaigns and health education- the action plan includes a strategic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as designing hand sanitising installations, promoting health awareness through signages, posters and campaigns, promoting cashless payments and cleaning protocols (Sydney Olympic Park, 2021).
- Developing facilities and initiatives like promoting fitness and well-being, weekend activities, after-office activities, lunchtime walks, and sports competitions.
- Promoting local business- developing campaigns to promote small and local businesses, temporary street closures, markets and developing strategies to strengthen the economy by emphasising the night-time economy, developing the indigenous experience by developing community events.
- Promoting inclusiveness- improving the pick-up areas, rest stops, wayfinding and pedestrian safety for the disabled people of the community, self-guided programmes for individuals with a disability, and encouraging participation of the disabled population in the community.
The Sydney Olympic Park suburb is an area stretching approximately 7 square kilometres and comes under the council of Paramatta. According to the 2016 census, the total population of the area is around 1,736 and with a total of 438 families and 844 private residences. In 2020, the number of residents has increased to around 4,000. The Sydney Olympic Park envisions raising the number of residents to 23,500 by 2030. More than 50 cafes and restaurants serve the precinct and around 19,000 workers and 2,000 students commute to the precinct daily (Sydney Olympic Park, 2021). Hence, the focus of the community development plan is to enhance the lives of 4,000 current residents and a total of 25,000 people who live, work and study in the precinct. Community is described as the individuals who share a deep connection with an area, and the community focus of the Sydney Olympic Park CDC includes:
- The people sharing the precinct for working, living, studying or conducting business within or near the Sydney Olympic Park suburb.
- People share common interests, visiting the Park on a regular basis for recreation or enjoying its unique attributes.
The Sydney Olympic Park is a precinct shared by the residents and commuters and is governed by the Sydney Olympic Park Authority which plans and provides services, programmes, infrastructure and amenities collectively contributing to the liveability and development of the community. Stakeholders are individuals, groups or organisation that typifies a community segment or a customer. The Sydney Park stakeholders can be divided into four groups:
- Olympic precinct- The Key stakeholders are NSW Government, Olympic and Paralympic Committees, Inclusion industry, Federal government, Greater Sydney Commission, Sustainability industry (Sydney Olympic Park, 2021).
- Sports, recreations and entertainment segment- The key stakeholders playing a role in promoting entertainment, sports and recreational activities are Destination NSW, Office of Sport, sports events, business events, event operators, entertainment events, Sports Association, community sports, and venue operators.
- Sustainable and liveable suburb- The key stakeholders that make the community vibrant and liveable are the residents, students, workers, retail and commercial tenants, investors, business groups, and educational institutions.
- Urban landscape and parklands- Key stakeholders are parkland tenants, Environment Protection Authority, the cycling industry, and Conservation groups. National parks and Wildlife, and program operators.
The Sydney Olympic Park Authority has the role of a facilitator and custodian for bringing to life the vision of a thriving community, economic development and sustainable outcomes at the Sydney Olympic Park, while the state government plays the role of developing and managing the Park (Sydney Olympic Park, 2021). The authority engages community participation in volunteering in the programmes to deliver and plan the amenities, infrastructure and public spaces. In encouraging the participation of the people who share a social life through working, living, studying or profiting from a business in the area the Sydney Olympic Park Authority has shown a participative or democratic leadership style and team management. Hence this encourages the community members to feel valued, and motivated and increases the chance of achieving a sustainable outcome favoured by the participants (Fiaz et al., 2017), since the best ideas come from those who live, work, earn and study in the community. The Sydney Olympic Park CDP has been successful in engaging the entire community by participating actively or by providing feedback on ways to improve the community. The feedback from the community was then evaluated and divided into four segments in order to work on it as a part of the community development venture. The four segments are Localism, Liveability, Events and Community information (Sydney Olympic Park, 2021).
Sustainable Practices for Community Development
-Local events at the community level
-Local business promotion
-Engaging with local cafes and restaurants
-Engagement with sports activities
-After work recreational events
-Cultural events promoting intercultural harmony
-Inclusive, safe and liveable places
-Affordable housing for all
-Improved transport system
-Creating smoking spaces/smoke-free areas
-Improved pedestrian access
-Improved disability access
-Small scale community events in localities
-Night markets and farmer’s markets
-Pop-up play areas
-Art and lifestyles events
-Promoting indigenous history through celebrations
-Multicultural food trucks and food events
-exercise events, family events
-developing a local website and user-friendly mobile app for receiving community information.
-social media pages for information
-Newsletters via email
To improve communication and maintain connectedness in the local community the Sydney Olympic Park CDP has listed ways to develop communication. The people of the community have suggested the development of a community website or mobile app to impart information regarding events or initiatives. Another way to connect the youth and the student community is using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram (Sydney Olympic Park, 2021). Options of email newsletters, community noticeboards and WhatsApp groups can help the mature population to receive notifications regarding community events and initiatives.
The Sydney Olympic Park CDP has created a COVID-19 recovery plan that engages in creating awareness and promotes health education. The action plan has aimed to engage the community in creating a response plan for the COVID-19 impact which is:
- Improving health and creating awareness through promotional signs and campaigns
- Increasing the hygiene protocols
- Encouraging community members to opt for cashless payment options and pre-book parking areas
- Promoting hand hygiene y installing hand sanitiser units in public spaces
COVID-19 had impacted the global economy and every country has experienced stagnancy in the economy (Siddiqui et al., 2020). The CDP had aimed at stimulating the economy of the community by promoting the local businesses by:
- Initiating the “shop local” campaign
- Hosting community and business check-ins
- Developing COVID-safe event spaces
- Creating outdoor dining spaces
- Creating new events in order to attract visitation that declined during the pandemic
- Encouraging the community dwellers to promote local businesses
- Enhancing marketing strategies for the community businesses
The action plans, objectives and outcomes of the Sydney Olympic Park Community Development Programme have been structured on the feedback of the stakeholders and community members (Sydney Olympic Park, 2021). The following are the outcomes of the proposed CDP:
- Providing a response to the impact of COVID-1 on the health, well-being and economy of the community.
- Stakeholders and community members work together to achieve development within the community and deliver sustainable outcomes.
- To build an engaged, connected and informed community
- Innovative programs, initiatives and events to promote the local economy and contribute towards custodianship and community building.
- Creating an inclusive and diverse place having a sense of culture and local character (Tanni, 2018).
- Enhancing access to multiple activities, facilities and amenities for the growth and development of local businesses and community.
- Developing meaningful relationships and collaboration to benefit the community and for better social outcomes.
The Sydney Olympic Park Community Development Programme is an ongoing programme and the action plan is reviewed yearly and the actions are adjusted as per the priorities and emerging needs of the ever-growing community. The promoting evaluating and monitoring of the CDP and coordination of action delivery is overseen by the Manager of Community Engagement and Social Outcomes in partnership with the local stakeholder, local community and the staff.
Therefore, it can be concluded that community development revolves around working for and with the community to enhance and improve the circumstances and existing conditions of the community people. The Sydney Olympic Park Community Development Plan does just that and envisions creating a vibrant community, thriving economy and a protected environment by aligning the objectives of sustainable development with community participation. The uniqueness of the CDP has earned it the Green Star Communities National Framework rating. The ongoing Sydney Olympic Park Community Development Plan is continually updating its action plans and initiatives responding to the altering needs of the community, keeping the main goal constant which is providing better social outcomes and actions to create a sense of place for the community.
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