PEOPLE should look beyond the negative stereotypes and see the shire as the home of “compassionate, driven, intelligent people who work to form a safe, supportive community,” a university researcher has found.

Mark Mackay, who is a graduate in social work at Wollongong University, is presenting his findings at the Shire Futures Project at Gymea Tradies on Friday.

“The Sutherland Shire community has been the subject of negative stereotyping with the community being perceived as a predominantly beach culture-dominated, insulated community with a false sense of superiority,” Mr Mackay writes.

“As is the nature of stereotypes, this does not adequately equate for the majority of the community.

“About 17.3 per cent of shire residents have donated their services to volunteer organisations and this reflects a community that is dedicated to giving their time and assistance to a wide range of causes.”

More than 100,000 shire residents are employed.

There is a growing culture of pursuing further education, with more than 59 per cent of the community, aged over 15, having earned some form of post-school qualification.

“The shire has been well served by its youth services such as Shire Wide Youth Services and Sylvanvale,” Mr Mackay said.

“While these organisations are crucial in maintaining a healthy, thriving community, they are often overlooked.

“Living in the shire, there is an inherent perception that negative issues don’t happen here.

“The perception creates a negative impact on these services.”