Photo by Steve Brown
Frankston City Council and the Committee for Greater Frankston have leapt to the defence of their city after it was portrayed by the ABC as isolated, suffering from a shortage of jobs and business investment, and lacking cultural diversity. Under the headline ‘No jobs, lack of diversity among the challenges in this seaside town where trains only go one way’, the article quoted a restaurant owner saying he had to travel to Springvale to stock up on ingredients, and a former resident who felt isolated “in terms of how I saw no one like me”.
Frankston City Mayor Kris Bolam.
In a statement today, Mayor Kris Bolam said he “wanted to go on record as saying that Frankston City is and always will be a welcoming place for people from differing communities, faiths and cultural backgrounds, and as a council we are always looking to identify new ways to enhance cultural diversity and connection in our city”.
“Those who don’t live here don’t get to enjoy what we enjoy – including Ventana Fiesta, Frankston City’s major annual celebration of Latin-American, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish cultures,” Cr Bolam said. “They don’t get to have a great dining experience that celebrates cultural diversity each year during Harmony Week, when our restaurants and cafes offer specials and traditional fare including Mediterranean, Thai, Moroccan, Chinese, Nepalese, Mexican, Vietnamese, Turkish and Sri Lankan. From the outside it may seem like just a food experience intended to attract new customers – and it is, because experiencing new things and supporting our businesses are also important. But it is also an opportunity to have meaningful and insightful conversations about the importance of diversity and acceptance.
“For those of us who choose to call Frankston City home, we have a lot to be proud of. For some, that might be interfaith events at the Bait-ul-Salam Mosque in Langwarrin. This past weekend we welcomed more than 100 members of the Muslim community to this beautiful place of worship where various faith leaders spoke passionately about caring for each other and accepting the cultural differences that make us all unique. Some of us might be proud of increasing our knowledge of other cultures through our international relationships. This year we celebrated the 39th anniversary of our Sister City relationship with Susono in Japan and our 10-year anniversary with our other Sister City, Wuxi in China.
“We know that this community does celebrate multiculturalism beyond colourful events, and council knows that on a deeper level because many of our residents have taken part in our community engagement consultations over the past year or so. Many of you showed a desire to be inclusive, culturally diverse and welcoming. Much of what we have learnt from our community is now being included in our planning for the next four years. For example, we will be developing greater support for elderly people from culturally diverse backgrounds to help them connect with peers who may feel isolated. So I want you to know that we hear you, and that your voice is louder than any media coverage that has occurred over the past few days.
“I want to let you know that council will work to change the impression that this unjust and unwarranted media coverage has given us, so that more people will understand how we as a community value cultural diversity and respect it as an enriching part of community life. That said, we can all do our bit to be more welcoming and to show how we value and respect each other. If it takes a village to raise a child, then it will take all of us to create the community we want to live in and collectively raise the Frankston City’s profile to what we want it to be.”
Meanwhile, in a statement from its board of directors, the Committee for Greater Frankston said: “While the committee appreciates any media coverage of the inadequate public transport in our city – as well as the long-running call to extend the metro train line as part of the solution – the article’s focus on the lack of demographic diversity in Frankston was unbalanced. This is a symptom of successive governments’ inadequate planning to increase the variety of housing options as well as insufficient investment in our region’s transport infrastructure. It is not the fault of Frankston residents.
“Frankston was declared Melbourne’s most affordable liveable suburb in early 2020 by Domain Group. The median house price of $570,000 is well below Melbourne’s average of $1 million. The municipality has some of the best beaches of any Melbourne bayside suburb. It has public parks, gardens, walking and bike trails, and recreational facilities the envy of many suburbs as well as top-performing schools; clean air; and many cultural assets including a vibrant arts centre, historic homesteads, internationally renowned sculpture park and more.
“We have one of Melbourne’s biggest public hospitals – currently undergoing a $562 million redevelopment – two big private hospitals, and good public and private schools. Then there is Monash University’s Peninsula campus and Chisholm TAFE, which is set to become Victoria’s largest technical training institute. And construction has started on Peninsula Health’s new academic and research centre as part of the National Centre for Healthy Ageing.
“The most recent Census showed that 30 per cent of Frankston’s population was born overseas and recent immigrants have come from India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. They have discovered the benefits of living and working in Frankston and we look forward to welcoming more people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds in the coming years. Now it is time for both state and federal governments to work with our community to build the critical metropolitan transport infrastructure and other facilities we need to support this growth.”
The Committee for Greater Frankston says extending the metro train line from Frankston to Langwarrin and potentially Baxter would help resolve the issue of inadequate public transport on the Peninsula.