More jobs, but still plenty of travel


Tara Murray

More people in Melbourne’s west are employed but many are still facing long commutes to get to their jobs each day.

The West of Melbourne Economic Development Alliance (WoMEDA) released its half yearly economic update on Wednesday, which showed employment in Melbourne’s west had increased by 100,000 jobs in just six years.

However, almost half the employed face a regular commute beyond the west, with 32 per cent travelling to the Melbourne CBD.

WoMEDA chair Professor Peter Dawkins said they were surprised by the results of the study.

The study analysed six different councils, Hobsons Bay, Wyndham, Maribyrnong, Brimbank, Melton and Moonee Valley.

“WoMEDA was set up about eight years ago and two issues we were concerned about were the extent of jobs for people in the region with the huge population growth and if there would be enough jobs for them,” Professor Dawkins said.

“Not only weren’t employment levels good, but you had to leave your region. There weren’t enough jobs locally and that’s still an issue.

“There’s been a slight change in higher employment and it has one of the best employment ratios, but local jobs are not growing fast enough.”

Professor Dawkins said the workers in Melton and Wyndham were having to leave their municipalities for work the most.

He said it remains a fundamental problem.

“We argue the need to commute should be reduced through policies aimed at growing jobs inside the region,” he said.

“Local jobs have grown just not fast enough.”

The report also found that there is a 10 per cent gap between female and male employment to population ratios for residents in Melbourne’s west.

Professor Dawkins said after speaking with local residents, WoMEDA believes this is due to travel because of lack of local jobs and access to affordable childcare.

The study also found Melton and Wyndham were over-represented in mortgage stress compared to the national average.

Professor Dawkins said both areas were a mortgage belt, with a lot of young families buying houses in those areas.

While there have been some improvements, Professor Dawkins said more needs to be done to help those in Melbourne’s west.

“The government has done a lot of things including the employment precincts in Footscray, Sunshine and East Werribee,” he said.

“Now we need to look at how we create more jobs in employment precincts. Our next strategy paper will have ideas on how to do that.

“The design to co-locate Victoria University and Footscray Hospital is a good decision and there’s potential for employment there.

“Sunshine there has been a growth of jobs and how do we accelerate it, Airport Rail back on this will help make the Sunshine hub.

“East Werribee, how do we create jobs?”

Professor Dawkins said as well as creating local jobs, they need to make sure they are accessible for those who still have to travel.

“Long term solution is to get local jobs.”