Randwick Park's transformation through community effort
Proud residents are telling a story of hope, resilience and transformation.
Among the Randwick Park locals working to improve their suburb are Peter Diaz, Dave Tims and residents' association chairwoman Maree Beaven.
Tims is a former school teacher and trained counsellor who belongs to the Christian organisation Urban Neighbours of Hope.
He says when he and his family arrived in Randwick Park they heard "terrible" things about the area.
"But there was another side of the story that hadn't been told. There was an invisible bunch of people who care about their neighbourhood.
"The general narrative was one of negativity but the story not yet told was one of positivity."
Tims has worked with the residents' association to start a community newsletter and helped to plant $20,000 of trees along a local stream during his five years in Randwick Park.
Diaz is responsible for maintaining the sports fields adjacent to the suburb's popular skatepark, which is no longer targeted by vandals.
His accomplishments include founding the Dads4Us community programme for local fathers.
The group's dads went fishing and eeling with their children and played pool and golf.
"It was to teach fathers they're the main support for their family and to make them realise their children are a lot more important than drinking alcohol or being in a gang," Diaz says.
"We encouraged them to get involved, act appropriately, stop swearing and try to be as positive as they can."
Diaz says he's certain the change the suburb has undergone is permanent.
"It will never fall back because we have people who care about the community and we don't want that sort of rubbish here."
Beaven says the area around the sports courts and skatepark, which is looked after by youth groups, is safer than before.
"When I first came to Randwick Park I'd never walk there because was there was too much drugs, alcohol and gangs.
"It was threatening and some people thought they owned the place but I can go there now."
Residents are also becoming more sociable, Beaven says.
"No one talked to each other before but now we have loads of friends in the community.
"It's safer and people care about the place. We stick up for it and each other."