Community STaR 2012 survey of parents in the 2168 postcode area

The 2168 postcode area is home to some of the most disadvantaged suburbs in the south west Sydney region. The area has been a main focal point for intersectoral actions since the Miller crisis that occurred in the late 1990’s. The Centre for Health Equity Training, Research and Evaluation (CHETRE) has since continued to be at the forefront of evaluating and documenting the Community 2168 project and was recently granted the approval to establish a community service for training and research in Miller (Community STaR).

 

What did we do?

In May 2012, a pilot study was developed to support the long-term vision for Community STaR. Parents who reside in the postcode area with children less than 12 years of age were surveyed to identify their “hopes and dreams” for their young children. The survey consisted of broad open-ended questions allowing for parents to speak on their own volition of their child’s involvement in non-school activities, living in the area, their child’s education, local employment, hopes and dreams and actions that will achieve and support these opportunities for their children.

 

What did we find?

  • Overall 60 parents were interviewed with the majority being mothers (40, 67%).
  • Half of those surveyed stated their child participated in non-school activities, which for the most part were sports related. Income was a major determinant for parents allowing their child to participate in these activities.
  • Three-quarters of the parents interviewed (44, 73%) were satisfied with the area and stated that moving away would jeopardise social connections with family, neighbours and friends. The remaining parents (36, 27%) cited safety and security concerns in the area as major incentives to moving away. When parents were asked of their children living in the area as adults almost half (29, 48%) stated that they could see their child continue to live in the area in order to maintain social connections with friends and family whilst the remaining parents cited continuous crime, violence, and negative environmental aspects as factors for their child to live elsewhere.
  • More than half (36, 60%) the parents spoke positively of their child’s education, school services and experience with schooling in the area. The remaining parents (24, 40%) felt that their child’s education was poor and pointed to school problems such as lice, social issues, and disturbances that exist in the area as a major factor to the education system failing their child.
  • In regards to future employment for their child in the area, half the parents (31, 52%) stated they could not see their children working in the area in the future and attributed this to the lack of employment opportunities available. The remaining parents either believed there would be future job opportunities available (15, 25%) or were ‘unsure’ (14, 23%) because their child is too young.
  • Parents were finally asked about their ‘hopes and dreams’ for their child; most parents responded positively with ‘education’ and ‘happiness’ being the most common response. Other responses include: being a good person, citizen, being healthy, completing a tertiary education, having an enjoyable career, being anything they want, being successful and being the best they can be. A few parents had literal expectations of what they hoped for their child e.g. to become a doctor, teacher, nurse and police officer.
  • In order to achieve these opportunities most parents stated that education, support, good parenting, income/money, good supportive family, special services, good friends and teaching them the right things as ways to support their children.

What are the implications of this work?

Local institutions and day care centres would benefit in knowing that parents place a high value on quality education for their child. The findings of this survey also point to the fact that parents not only place a high value on education but also their child’s health and happiness as of equal importance in succeeding in life. This survey has implications for local services that cater to the 2168 community. The perception amongst parents in this study is that parents would rather their child move away based primarily on a lack of employment opportunities and a lack of safety in the area. Local services could benefit with connecting with these parents and identify opportunities that will alleviate these concerns.

Recommendations

Services, institutions and organisations should be aware of the ‘hopes and dreams’ and perceptions parents have of their children and of the area and make efforts to encourage local employment, lessen the barriers that hinder the participation of children and vulnerable families with local organisations and facilities and create safe and enjoyable activities that will encourage families to be better included in the 2168 community so that future generations would stay in the area rather than move away.

 Acknowledgements

Thank you to the Principals of Miller Public and Heckenberg Public School for granting us access to speak with parents- as an exercise it was a great way to engage the parents and get them to think of their future hopes and dreams for their children. To the administration at the Michael Wenden Aquatic Centre and the friendly day care staff at Create Imagine Learn Child Care Centre, Willows Child Care, Green Valley Child Care Centre and Rimas Day Care Centre we thank you for your time and patience during our study. We hope the findings provide some information that may add value to your organisation. CHETRE would also like to thank Roueida Maskaleh, Malina Pang and Natasha Trist from the University of Western Sydney for their help in developing and implementing the survey.

Author: Community STaR

Community STaR is the Service for Training and Research. We are a community-based training and outreach activity of the Centre for Health Equity Training, Research and Evaluation (CHETRE), part of UNSW Australia and South Western Sydney Local Health District.

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