Young at Heart | Bidding farewell to 2017’s highs and lows

Not only has the year turned over another notch, so have I. We move in unison, this world and me. When it begins a new year, so do I, literally.

I have been leafing through the year’s cuttings of my columns...a walk down memory lane.  

I started the year praising Malcolm Turnbull who spoke glowingly of the importance of science. He said we were to be agile and innovative, as he set up The National Innovation and Science Agenda. The PM declared this to be an important step towards harnessing new sources of growth to deliver the next age of economic prosperity in Australia. However, when announcing his new ministry recently he cut science from the inner cabinet, exiling it to the outer cabinet and giving it to junior minister Zed Seselja, thus diminishing the importance of its role in setting Australia up to move into the 21st century. Disappointing.

We watched as a new council set to work, setting a professional tone to their meetings which was a pleasure to observe. That sense of achievement was augmented when Margaret O’Rourke, mayor of the first year of the new council, was elected to an unprecedented second year. That offered stability in a new council.

I wrote of the need for good leaders in this changing global landscape. It has suddenly become a more precarious world, with Donald Trump in the United States and Kim Jong-un in North Korea facing off with each other over nuclear weapons. Their egos are a great deal larger than some other parts of their anatomy, and that is proving a dangerous thing for the rest of the world. Leaders with narcissistic tendencies do not bode well for our world today.

Haven; Home Safe is the overarching umbrella over Sidney Myer Haven. This residential community offers its residents shelter, education, a work ethic and classes in life skills. It is a wonderful local initiative, funded by the Sidney Myer Trust, state government, various support agencies, philanthropic trusts and a local family, the Holdsworths. It’s dedicated to assisting people gain new skills relevant towards a long-term working future. It also offers career advice while providing them with secure housing for two years while they are either ‘earning or learning’.

Refugees have been the subject of several columns going into my fifth year. It is Australia’s shame that we are no further advanced in assisting these people find a country willing to take them.

Women have begun to organise themselves into strong lobby groups representing refugee women and children in particular (GADRC), and more recently the ‘Me too’ movement, speaking out against sexual harassment in the work place, and misogyny in general towards women.

Locally Ulumbarra Theatre has always had my enthusiastic support. Now with the setting up of the Ulumbarra Foundation we are seeing this influence reach out into the community in the form of grants to individuals and groups. It is an exciting and natural progression of the value of Ulumbarra to the whole Bendigo community.

I have been a strong supporter of Same-Sex Marriage and of Assisted Dying Laws. Both have now been successfully passed at parliamentary level.

There are so many topics each year to be covered, too many to be listed. I have only touched on a few in this column today.

It has been an interesting and challenging year. May your 2018 be healthy and safe for you and your loved ones.