Researching the changing face of Footscray

A Victoria University public forum will discuss the changing face of Footscray and the kind of suburb we want it to become.

Victoria University community development academic Dr Nicole Oke said the 29 April event at VU at MetroWest, a panel discussion called The challenges of urban renewal, is a chance to explore creative responses to rising living costs, rapid development and gentrification underway in Footscray that was challenging its traditional ethnically diverse and working class character.

“The people that live in and visit Footscray are rapidly changing and the types of services, public spaces and businesses are also changing to reflect that,” Dr Oke said.

“Urban renewal not only changes what we see around us but also challenges how people feel they belong to, and identify with, Footscray.”

Dr Oke said these questions about the cultures and social dynamics in Footscray are ones we need to discuss, so that we can be clear on what it is about Footscray we want to hold onto and what changes we want to embrace.

The forum is organised by Victoria University’s Community Development Association and the university’s Community, Identity and Displacement Research Network, where several researchers are working with community groups on what they value about Footscray.

“People talk about Footscray as a welcoming hub of a diverse range of communities,” Dr Oke said. “They value, for example, the numerous African barbers and cafes that help African communities forge a sense of belonging in the city.”

Dr Oke said the forum will also explore innovative ways community groups are addressing new challenges. These include:

  • art projects raising issues about the use of public spaces
  • ways to address the issue of affordable accommodation
  • access to legal services.

“The shape Footscray takes in the next few years is not pre-determined,” she said.

This panel discussion, The challenges of urban renewal, is at VU at MetroWest, 138 Nicholson Street Footscray at 5.30pm on 29 April. There will be a panel of presenters, followed by plenty of time for discussion. The workshop is open to the public and there is no need to RSVP.

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