Change happens when people care. When communities mobilise to create a different way forward.
We know that in central Victoria some things don’t need to change. There are many reasons to love our little patch – and that we live in a vibrant, regional city and surrounding towns surrounded by bushland with access to some great facilities and many opportunities is a privilege.
But we also know that across our region, there is a growing gap between those who can access those privileges, and those who cannot. A regional partnership pulled together by the state government is asking the question: what are the priorities for our region?
We know we need to find better ways to engage and work with young people. We need to give every child the best possible education, opportunity to find employment and chance to lead a healthy, independent rewarding life.
We know adequate mobile phone coverage and high-speed internet access for all homes, businesses and schools is a priority.
In recent weeks, the Bendigo Advertiser has highlighted concerns by psychologists that they cannot meet demand, nor can they attract practitioners to our city. How can we meet the needs of those living with poor mental health if we cannot provide the appropriate support?
But are these our greatest priorities? That’s the question being asked of you.
As Loddon Campaspe Regional Partnership chair Nigel McGuckian says, we need to listen to the voices in our community and find common goals.
“For example, a council’s public space policy might only look at small parks and gardens in a town. But we should really be focusing on all of the public space, including forests, that might not be a part of a council strategy,” he says.
“We know we have serious areas of disadvantage compared to Melbourne, in terms of unemployment and health disadvantage. This is about finding new ways to address these problems. It’s not about what we as a group believe, it’s what the community wants us to turn into priorities.”
It’s easy to be cynical of what some could say is a government-driven talkfest. It’s also easy to sit back and do nothing. But if you don’t have your say, your voice will never be heard. It may well be the issue you identify is the one that changes our region’s future. Everything is on the table.
Nicole Ferrie, editor