It has been interesting watching a suburb develop and struggle to cope with the growing population and the inevitable social problems that accompany it.
There are 2700 homes in Brighton and around 5000 people, 2 primary schools, (one with 700 kids) and no high schools. The community facilities are currently limited to two small rooms by the sales office and the ex -cafe converted into a community centre by the local AOG church. The shops were completed earlier this year much to the joy of many residents, but for various reasons the suburb seems to be experiencing growing pains.
I am not sure all of what is happening, so please don’t read this as decisive social comment, but do read it as the concerned musings of a resident.
I am more ‘wondering’ what has shifted in the social landscape though, as we no longer seem to be as warm as we were previously. Perhaps we are entering the ‘reality’ stage of our development where the glossy newness of the suburb has worn off and we are now discovering that we have the same social problems as anywhere else – maybe even moreso.
Being the last suburb in the sprawl means we are a long way from anywhere and we are certainly not well resourced with facilities or people.
In recent months we have seen:
– a huge increase in the amount of graffiti – I am told by predominantly 11-12 year olds often seeking peer approval.
– an increase in break and enters – there have been at least 2 young offenders released back into the ‘wild’ in Butler and they have become big fish in a small pond. When one moved back home last year there were 17 B & E’s in his own street the following week… a coincidence? The park opposite his home has become a war zone with regular fights there on Friday nights and brken bottles strewn around at other times.
– an increase in the number of gangs and violence – the AOG guys closed down their Friday night youth program after 2 violent and dangerous incidents where people were injured and property damaged by a gang of teenage boys. There was little choice as it was just plain dangerous. Last weekend a good friend of ours was beaten up by 6 teenagers, and that is a common occurence.
The local intranet regularly has people complaining about what is happening, but no one really has a solution. How do you work with teenagers whose only real desire is to run wild and create havoc. Youth groups aren’t the answer – they don’t come – or if they do they only come to destroy. Anyone who has done street work would know it is highly time intensive with low rewards in terms of people changing.
Your average suburbanite is either too busy, too afraid or too disinterested to get involved. Everyone wants peace in the backyard, but no one really knows how to achieve it, so for some its a case of being perplexed by the problems and not knowing where to start.
My youth work days are behind me now and I don’t really know quite how to work with the gangs and kids who are out of control. A recent community meeting did what so many have done in the past – identified a problem, discussed a problem and then we all went home.
As a small church community we really don’t have the resources to assist in this situation, but we are seeing our suburb change and it is concerning.
I don’t feel afraid, and I don’t fear for my kids as they are still too young to be affected by most of this, but I feel some responsibility for how this place develops. I get irate at those who carp and bitch about the problems but never get off their arse to do anything. But even for those of us who want to the question of ‘where to start’ is perplexing.
I would predict that things will continue to go downhill for quite a while unless something changes.
I imagine the developers would be concerned because the way the place is now is not going to sell land! At very least the economic concerns should motivate them to become more involved, but then again… what can they do?…