The suburb of Airds and surrounding areas in South-Western Sydney are currently undergoing housing renewal, changing from predominantly social housing to a mixed-housing community. Current evidence suggests that housing renewal can improve quality of life for residents depending on the way it is done. This research was undertaken to gain insight into the mental health and wellbeing of Airds residents during the time of housing renewal and how to best support their needs, through the views of local service providers and volunteers. At the time of this study, housing renewal was proceeding, with demolishing and new building of houses taking place. Some social housing tenants were moving away from Airds and private owners moving in.
Data was collected in semi-structured individual and group interviews in 2015 and 2016. Participants were purposively selected as community-based workers, volunteers and managers who provided services and community development activities within Airds and had experience of working with residents with mental health vulnerabilities. Seventeen people were interviewed, six in a focus group, 2 in an interview together and nine in individual interviews. Nine participants were also local residents.
Engaging residents in community activities, promoting educational and work opportunities and ensuring the availability and accessibility of health and social support services throughout and beyond the housing renewal transition period is important to promote individual and community health and wellbeing. This can be assisted by maintaining or re-establishing local facilities, supporting community volunteers, ongoing inclusive community development initiatives and recognising the intergenerational disadvantage of many people in Airds and taking a long term view of residents’ needs.