Hamilton South resident Janice Patterson is hoping to change your mind about her suburb.
The 68-year-old retiree says that, despite recent negative media attention, her beachside community is filled with positive elements.
“They’re all focusing on what happened here but there’s a lot more to our area,” she said.
The incident Ms Patterson is referring to involved a Newcastle police officer allegedly being threatened with a knife after responding to a call out to a possible brawl occurring on Fowler Street late last month.
Footage of the scene went viral.
Ms Patterson says the incident should not define her neighbourhood.
“People tar the whole area with the same brush but we’re not all the same,” she said.
“In fact, most of the trouble comes from transient visitors, not community members.
“There are a lot of great community stories here.
“There’s a lot of community spirit and some really good people live here.”
Ms Patterson is a member of the Hamilton South Community Solutions Group. The group operates with the support of Mission Australia and tenders a garden located outside the community hall on Ogden Street.
At the moment, they are unable to meet at the hall because it currently has no signed lease and, therefore, no access.
“It’s a hall that is 40 years old this year,” Ms Patterson said.
“We should be celebrating that with the community, not looking at it sitting there empty.”
Ms Patterson says what her community urgently needs is attention from “those in charge”.
“We need our community hall back and we need the lawns cut and cared for,” she said.
“We need to celebrate all of the good things about our area.”
Bureaucracy is to blame for much of the neighbourhood’s woes, according to Ms Patterson.
She said the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) used to look after the lawn and community hall, before the responsibility moved to NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC).
Newcastle State MP Tim Crakanthorp said he would escalate the matter to NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes.
“I’m pretty sick of raising this with [the] department when they drop the ball on basic maintenance,” he said.
“This should be a fantastic community facility and the disregard that it’s being treated with isn’t good enough.”
Ms Patterson’s latest concern is the safety of children playing outdoors during the school holidays.
She said the long grass could be hiding used syringes.
Together with her band of volunteers, she has taken on the task of keeping the area safe and tidy.
For now, Ms Patterson says she’ll continue to put pressure on local politicians to assist.
“We thank the police for keeping us safe, now it’s up to the politicians to do what they need to do,” she said.
“I’ve been messaging Tim Crakanthorp and I’ve contacted Rob Stokes and Newcastle council.
“We just hope they get things done.”