OPINION | Community spirit is alive and well

COMMUNITY DEPTH: Campbelltown-Camden Band, Camden Town Farm, Everyone Can Dance, Missy Lancaster, local veteran Dutchy Holland, and youngsters at the 24 Hour Fight Against Cancer. Tips of an amazing iceberg.
COMMUNITY DEPTH: Campbelltown-Camden Band, Camden Town Farm, Everyone Can Dance, Missy Lancaster, local veteran Dutchy Holland, and youngsters at the 24 Hour Fight Against Cancer. Tips of an amazing iceberg.

Another week, another insult – and I began to snarl.

I saw a Herald report that a multi-million dollar federal funding scheme to “address disadvantage” didn’t make it to places like Macarthur.

But $10 million did make it to Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah, home to beaches and billionaires. Isn’t that nice.

This came after my column last week pointing out there was NO plan by the state government to force high-rise on Sydney’s leafy north shore, 20-30km from Sydney, but Campbelltown and Wilton will have canyons of high-rise forced upon us – 60km-100km from Sydney.

And let’s not forget work is about to start on a Badgerys Creek airport with no rail and no noise curfew (unlike Sydney airport).

The list goes on and on.

There are two Sydneys and we are clearly the second-class citizens: a form of bigotry as insidious as racism and sexism.

The pollies are aided by Sydney’s media which will talk about the lower north shore, the upper north shore, and the northern beaches, but then sweepingly describe every single suburb between Lakemba and Picton as “Sydney’s south west”. Usually with a built-in sneer.

I was getting cranky as I penned this column, but then I saw stories about our kids across Macarthur, with beaming smiles and loving families: our future.

And, make no mistake, we have great young people, who not only achieve amazing things but tend to be less “entitled” than teenagers in some other areas.

I recall years ago when Michelle Woolley was lead singer of local rock band Fanesky and getting gigs in inner city pubs, I interviewed a pub owner who said he only booked bands from places like Campbelltown.

Why? Because they actually turned up, unlike inner-city bands. They had a work ethic, a humility, that made them more reliable.

I now take this as a cultural metaphor, given how badly our Macarthur area has been screwed over by lazy politicians and government lies over the past 50 years. 

The only strength we can truly rely on is our own.

I really felt that in my years as editor, getting to know so many inspiring achievers, hidden away among our schools, community groups and small businesses.

That truly hit me a while back when I was waiting for a tyre to be fixed at Bob Jane T-Mart in Campbelltown, and I saw dozens of plaques and ‘thank yous’ from worthy causes that owners Bec and Brad Purcell had donated to.

That story, I can assure you, is repeated in almost every local business in our area.

And what about our volunteers. Our hospitals have world-class cutting edge equipment (that the government won’t provide) only because of the annual 24 Hour Fight Against Cancer.

I could fill 100 pages praising community supporters, from band members, war veterans, bush carers, our historical societies, aged and disability welfare workers, etc, etc...it’s a homegrown list that inspires us all.

I recently bumped into Kylee Bentham and Lyn Townsend of Macarthur’s Shining Stars Foundation who run a mobile service providing hot meals, clothing, and blankets to local homeless people. These are caring local mums, not a government body.

Also my mates Lee and Lauren Casuscelli from Everybody Can Dance group, which provides free dance, drama and singing lessons to locals with a disability.

And what about 12-year-old Astrid Graham of Minto who runs a Facebook page where she collects donated toys for less fortunate kids.

Even on the artistic side, this week Picton singer-songwriter Missy Lancaster has topped the ARIA Australian Country Artist Chart with her latest album. As she’s still the same humble, locally-proud girl she’s always been.

I’ve run out of space, and I’m only getting started...

My point is, I don’t see a second-class place. I see a treasury of talent and community pride that deserves far better respect from our pollies and city media.