Home' Scoop : Scoop 50 Summer 2009 Contents 68 SCOOP SUMMER 2009
Suresh Rajan, Executive
O cer, Ethnic Communi-
ties Council of WA
What are you most proud
of in WA? The diversity of
the population of Perth. We
are far and away the most
diverse community in Australia with around 49 per-
cent either born overseas or with one parent born
overseas. Almost half the population are either
migrants or children of a migrant. This diversity
has, in the main, been handled well by the com-
munity of Perth.
What don't you like about Perth? We need to
incorporate the Indigenous heritage far more into
our lives. That heritage has not successfully been
highlighted over the years and that is something I
am ashamed of and sorry about. There is much to be
celebrated in Aboriginal culture and we need to do
this far more effectively.
• The city remains largely Anglo-Celtic both in its
architecture and its culture.
• I think that the displays of diversity in culture need
to be encouraged. We tend to be far too insular
and introspective in our thinking and this can cause
resentment and anger towards other migrants.
• Our use of the river is inadequate. Cities such as
Brisbane and Melbourne use their rivers so much
more effectively than we do, with cafes and enter-
tainment right on the riverfront.
"There is no doubt that people enjoy the physi-
cal attributes of Perth. It's a marvellous place that
people who live here want to come back to and
they want to stay here. But something is missing
from that picture," he says.
"The city and state are uniquely blessed with
abundant natural resources, a well-educated, toler-
ant society with a high standard of living, living
within the rule of law, but it's a community that
seems ignorant of what it could do with these as-
sets -- just look at what others have done with far
less. I wonder why it is that we don't do that. It is a
great place to live but it could be so much better."
"Perth's industries bring more people in from
overseas than from the eastern states, setting us
up nicely to be a truly international city," he says.
"Why can't we be a city that ranks among the best
in the world? Why can't we aspire to it?"
Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi agrees. "The
true dynamism we need is going to come from and
through greater global connectedness and a more
proactive and competitive approach toward how
we want Perth to be perceived on the world stage.
The focus must be toward continually growing
and driving our economy. Economic development
must be a priority," she says.
She says it's time to stop hiding our light.
"Perth is open for business, but I am of the view
we are not delivering this message strongly enough
to other capitals, let alone key global cities, or in
some respects to all sectors of our own local com-
munity. We need to talk ourselves up a hell of a lot
more than we seem to be doing. I want to see us
brand and sell our city a lot more."
But Steve Woodland believes that while the
biggest cities of the last century were built on
finance and trade, there is a raft of smaller cities
now gaining status on a new set of values, such
up a hell of a lot more than we seem to be doing."
VISION: Clockwise from right. Perth
City Vision's rough concept for the Perth
Waterfront; Lord Mayor Lisa Sca di;
artist's impression of wetland at the Perth
Cultural centre; impression of William
Street, Northbridge looking south.
"Perth is open for business...We need to talk ourselves
• The railway line that separates Northbridge from
the city centre.
Do you have a vision of how Perth might be in,
say, 20 years? A vibrant multicultural society with
open space plans for markets and fairs, something
we appear to have lost over recent times. The
service of multicultural foods and entertainment
happening at these fairs could enliven the city
Do you have any fears for WA's future? We
allow our city to drift as it is doing now and not
incorporate the diversity that is out there. People
such as Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi who have vision
and an inclusive nature need to be encouraged
rather than criticised.
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