The ‘New West’ is what you want it to be

    In this edition of The Westsider, I wanted to talk about a fundamental and important characteristic of western Melbourne that we often overlook: that is that our character is continually changing, and at a relentless pace.

    The physical and social change we see on a day to day basis in western Melbourne is some of the most significant in the developed world; our population is the fastest growing in Melbourne, and Melbourne the fastest growing city in the country.*

    The change is all around us; our population is set to double in the coming decades with a new generation and immigrants from all around the world. Huge new infrastructure projects like the Footscray Hospital, Westgate Tunnel and airport rail link are set to change our landscape and the way we live in it, and this is just not just to accommodate our growth, but enable it in the future.

    So if, particularly in the west, ‘change is the only constant’, how do we not only cope with this change (which we’ve got to admit, like all change, good or bad, can be confronting) but see the opportunity that it brings to create a better future?

    It’s hard to look to the future, or more ambitiously, look to creating a better future, when the change around us seems relentless and out of our control.

    For me, being comfortable with change is about having an understanding of its inherent opportunity and creating a sense of agency around that change. Anything we don’t understand is always going to come with a sense of trepidation and fear, and anything we feel we have absolutely no control over is a threat.

    This is where my idea of the New West and our ability to not only see our future as a set of opportunities, but be a part of its creation, comes in. The New West is a concept, but also a description of our home; a place where ‘change as a constant’ is about being involved in that change to make sure it is for the benefit of its residents.

    The idea of the New West allows us to be part of the discussion; imagining, planning and creating what we want the west to be. Sure, there are and always will be competing priorities and differing visions, but at the very least being a part of the conversation gives us that understanding.

    So, what is the New West to you?

    It’s a place of change and difference for sure, (I could argue that the West has always been); but for you is this change and difference an opportunity or a threat? 

    If it’s a threat, how do you become more engaged with your community to understand and influence its constant change for the better? How do you come to see the New West as something you can contribute to in a positive way rather than being a victim of it?

    As a reader of The Westsider, I feel like I’m preaching to the converted, but being engaged with our vibrant community in any way you can is key to feeling part of it, and its future. 

    If you already know the empowering benefits of community, encourage others to come to know it too. 

    Our future is an ever-evolving discussion that will never stop, and a New West that is better than the old west is about being part of that discussion. 

    Peter Wingate

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