Western Sydney Community Forum and the Whitlam Institute proudly in partnership launched the landmark book; The Planning, Funding and Community Action: The Area Assistance Story. The Hon Linda Burney graciously launched the book. Academics, representatives from community organisations, local and state government were all in attendance.

The Area Assistance Scheme operated from 1979-2006 in regions like Western Sydney, where there was rapid growth. Endowing the community services with millions of dollars over almost 30 years. The Area Assistance Story summarises this iconic history and highlights the ongoing legacy of Area Assistance Schemes’ outcomes in communities across Western Sydney, through its analysis of organisational case studies as well as through collating individual interviews.  As many of the authors are quick to point out, this book serves as a timely reminder that the answers to difficult decisions for local communities today lies with communities. As Ms Burney elaborated, the “resolution to difficult issues is not on the 13th floor of a Government office but here with the community…the further we go from social inclusion, social strength and who we are, the more desperate sectors will be and who will suffer? The people.”

Western Sydney’s population is set to grow rapidly in the next 20 years, by up to 1 million. The Area Assistance Story’s intention is to breathe life back into the cross-sector collaboration model that shaped the community structure, which we need now more than ever. Co-author Robin Gurr stated that, “Skilled-up local communities must be involved in decisions. Through Local inclusion of as many voices as possible we are achieving capacity building, which must happen.” Co-author Jenny Onyx stated, “Competition policy has reached its use by date. Let’s try collaboration instead…participation not domination. Collaboration not competition.” The core concept at the heart of this Book is to identify that without robust cross-sector collaboration we cannot hope to evolve our processes alongside the competing demands of an ever-expanding population. Especially as, Greater Western Sydney is set to be home to 50% of the Sydney’s population by 2031 necessitating localised and regional responses to community based needs.

WSCF’s Chief Executive, Billie Sankovic, “I congratulate my predecessor Mary Waterford for her vision and foresight, to kick-start the conversation that began this incredible story, which has shaped social capital and justice for individuals and communities.  The book gives us the tools we need to actively participate in the public policy debate and emphasises the importance of social infrastructure in a rapidly growing region like Western Sydney. It gives us the evidence we need to invest in and fund models that make a real difference.”

If this story has captured your imaginations and musings, there’s no spoilers here, you will simply have to get your own copy, more details below. For more information on the Book or to purchase a copy visit: