HIGH CHALLENGE: Redbank Plains has a higher level of unemployment and lower median income than the Queensland average.
HIGH CHALLENGE: Redbank Plains has a higher level of unemployment and lower median income than the Queensland average. Cordell Richardson

Council poll reveals safety, social issues in growing suburb

IT IS one of Ipswich's fastest growing suburbs, welcoming thousands of new residents in the past year.

Redbank Plains, a sprawling centre of its own, is nestled between the significant growth corridors of Ripley and Springfield.

While the suburb boasts a new community centre; parklands, a library and shopping precinct, its challenges are real.

In May this year Ipswich City Council opened the new $1.9 million community centre at Redbank Plains.

The council's Community Engagement Branch is undertaking a multi-year social impact assessment, to track the impact of the community centre over time.

With a median personal income of $648 per week and household income of $1365, Redbank Plains residents earn less than the Queensland average.

The first results of the council's study have been analysed and reported in; The Redbank Plains Community Centre: 2018 Baseline Study Results.

"We know that community infrastructure such as community centres has a positive impact on the local community, but we wanted to measure this impact over time," the council's Social Development and Community Engagement chief operating officer Caroline McMahon said.

About 120 people and 13 organisations provided insight into community experiences through two surveys and a focus group in June and July 2018.

The study noted 53 per cent of residents felt somewhat unsafe or very unsafe walking alone in Redbank Plains.

About 46 per cent agreed or strongly agreed they feel welcome in the community.

The survey revealed interesting information about the people living in the suburb.

Fifty-two per cent households in Redbank Plains are renting and one in three people say they are not involved in community groups.

The unemployment rate is 12 per cent, above the broader rate of 9 per cent for the City of Ipswich.

Almost one in two people at Redbank Plains have no qualifications.

Ms McMahon said while persistent challenges around cross-cultural community building remain, there were many encouraging signs.

"There is an overwhelming perception that diversity is a positive factor for the community, indicating that there is capacity for community building that will be positively received," she said.

In particular, addressing the perceptions about the lack of safety in the area will help to foster a stronger sense of community, which is more in line with people's aspirations."

The majority of residents, 64 per cent, are aged 34 or younger; compared to 53 per cent in the Ipswich area.

At Redbank Plains 30 per cent of residents were born overseas and 70 per cent of people say they have no connections to cultural groups other than their own.

The data in this report forms a baseline against which future monitoring or results will be assessed.

"We will continue to track social cohesion and social capital based on people's connections to community groups and cultural groups, people's sense of welcome, and people's sense of safety," Ms McMahon said.

"We will continue to track community capacity, drawing on ABS employment and education data, attendance and engagement in skills-building classes, and the use of the community centre for community meetings, community groups and community organising."

According to 2016 Census data, eight per cent of residents hold a university degree.

Of people aged 15 and over in Redbank Plains, 21 per cent noted the completion of Year 12 as their highest level of educational attainment while 20.8 per cent had finished a Certificate III or IV.

In the suburb 62.3 per cent of people were born in Australia.

The most common other countries of birth were New Zealand, 10.8 per cent; Samoa, 3.2 per cent; England, 2.1 per cent; India, 1.2 per cent and South Sudan, 1.2 per cent.

The most common ancestries in Redbank Plains were English, 23.4 per cent; Australian, 22.2 per cent; Samoan, 6.5 per cent; Irish, 5.6 per cent and Scottish, 5.6 per cent.

Most people, 71.2 per cent, only speak English at home.

Other languages spoken at home included Samoan, 6.7 per cent; Dinka, 1.9 per cent; Vietnamese, 1.2 per cent; Swahili, 1.2 per cent and Hindi, 0.8 per cent.

The council will conduct further surveys of the fast-growing Redbank Plains area in 2019, 2020 and 2021.