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    Essential workers pushed out of Sydney suburbs

    Stephanie Stefanovic

    Essential services workers such as nurses, teachers, firefighters and police officers are being pushed out of Sydney due to high house prices and rents.

    Over the past decade there has been a mass migration of essential workers from Sydney’s inner and middle-ring suburbs to outer fringe areas, according to a study conducted by the University of Sydney’s Urban Housing Lab for the Teachers Mutual Bank, Firefighters Mutual Bank and Police Bank.

    The biggest loss can be seen in Parramatta, with a loss of 21.4 percent of essential workers between 2006 and 2016. This is followed by the Eastern Suburbs (15.2 percent), Inner South-western Sydney (14.6 percent), Ryde (14.2 percent) and the Inner West (11.3 percent).

    In the same period, the biggest gains can be seen in the Southern Highlands (17 percent), Hunter Valley (13.6 percent) and Illawarra (10.5 percent).

    According to the study, essential workers are being pushed out of Sydney by high house prices and rents, which is a problem because the majority of essential services jobs are located throughout metropolitan Sydney, and in particular, inner Sydney. This is forcing these workers to risk fatigue to commute to and from their jobs.

    For example, the study noted that the closest local government area with an affordable median rent for an entry-level enrolled nurse is Cessnock in the Hunter Valley. This is approximately 150 km from any hospital in Sydney.

    According to USYD Professor Nicole Gurran, leader of the study, the answer lies in sensible “inclusionary” planning policies that force developers to reduce the cost of housing for key workers. Otherwise, the trend will continue to worsen.

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