Experiencing the toxic city: effects of contamination and its remediation on individuals and communities in urban Australia

Promaco Conventions Pty Ltd and DiskBank
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
State of Australian Cities (SOAC) Conference, 2009, pp. 1 - 16
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There is little research available on individual and community experiences of environmental contamination in Australian urban areas. However, international research suggests that the health impacts for individuals and communities living near contaminated sites are significant and complex and extend beyond the risk of immediate physical harm to impact on the psychological health of both individuals and communities. This paper presents the findings of one component a resident survey of a mixed method social research project that seeks to address this research gap. A random telephone survey was conducted in early 2009 with 400 residents living in proximity to the Botany Industrial Park (BIP) and Southlands contaminated sites in the southern suburbs of Sydney. The paper presents the findings from two of the themes that the survey investigates, namely the impact of the contamination on the `lifescape of residents living near the site, and the sense of stigma associated with contamination and whether this might be transformed by the remediation process. We suggest that a better understanding of community experiences and responses can inform the future management and remediation of contaminated lands. We hope that improvements in these processes can contribute to the alleviation of potentially negative impacts on peoples health and wellbeing.
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