Landmark research project to study COVID-19 impact on 4 Western Sydney

Published on 28 October 2020

Future Directions research study - Central City district Mayors.jpg

The future impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on council areas in Sydney’s west and northwest will be examined in a landmark research project being undertaken by Western Sydney University.

The ‘Future Directions’ project focusses on the socio-economic impact on the local government areas that make up Sydney’s Central City District, namely Blacktown City Council, Cumberland City Council, The Hills Shire Council, and City of Parramatta Council.

Blacktown City Mayor, Tony Bleasdale OAM, said councils are the keystones of local communities, and have been hit hard by COVID-19.

“As the world grapples with the ongoing effects of the coronavirus, there is strong evidence that damage caused by the pandemic will ripple through the national and state economies and have its greatest impact at the local level,” Mayor Bleasdale said.

“In Blacktown, we estimate the pandemic will cost Council more than $24 million in the 18 months to October 2021. The councils in Sydney’s Central City district need research-based planning to steer their communities through a post- COVID-19 environment.”

Western Sydney University has been engaged as the research team, with sponsorship by Westpac. WSU has been selected to undertake this study based on the institutions’ detailed research knowledge and extensive understanding of Western Sydney.

The Australian Catholic University, as Blacktown City Council’s strategic partner, will provide peer review and research oversight of the project.

The ‘Future directions’ research project reflects the strong and collaborative relationship between the partner councils of the Central City district, and demonstrates the collective and unified direction of future planning for the sub-region.

Cumberland City Mayor, Steve Christou, said: “I am proud of this collaboration and look forward to implementing the research so that we are best equipped to deliver programs which will benefit the businesses and residents of the area.” 

“The Central City district is very important economically to NSW and we’ll be the fastest growing district over the next 20 years. We will respond decisively and innovatively together to achieve the desired socioeconomic outcomes for our region.”

The Hills Shire Mayor, Dr Michelle Byrne, said: “The Hills Shire Council is proud to support this landmark research project.”

“We don’t know the true impact of COVID-19 on our region and Greater Sydney, but this project will shed some insight into the challenges and opportunities residents, businesses, and our communities face, and how we can support them through these challenging times.”

City of Parramatta Lord Mayor, Bob Dwyer, said Council has supported the community through the pandemic with a wide range of initiatives, grants and programs, including a $3 million COVID-19 Community Resilience and Economic Relief Package.

“While the impact of COVID-19 has hit us hard, City of Parramatta Council remains committed to helping our great City, and the rest of the Central City district, emerge from this pandemic stronger and more resilient than ever,” Cr Dwyer said.

The study will examine 8 socio-economic ‘influencers’ of the district’s economy over the next decade.

These include the likely future policy and regulatory direction of NSW and Australian governments, future levels of immigration, household and business debt levels, employment impacts and patterns, housing demand affordability, people movement, visitors to the region, and remote working and the demand for commercial office space.

The research will also consider significant international trends and seek input from a range of stakeholders from the public sector, peak bodies and business.

Research work is already underway and it is expected that the final report will be delivered by February 2021.

The ‘Future directions’ research study will be made public once finalised.

Picture: (left to right) Central City district Mayors – City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Bob Dwyer, The Hills Shire Mayor Dr Michelle Byrne, Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM, and Cumberland City Mayor Steve Christou.

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