SOME see decay in the vacant spaces left in rural towns, others see opportunities.
Castlemaine’s Kerry Anderson has been awarded a $10,000 scholarship for finding innovative solutions in a time of disruption.
And while she is still unsure what she will spend the money on, she will use the platform that comes with it to showcase what towns in central Victoria and beyond are doing to empower and transform themselves.
Ms Anderson will speak in April at the Ci2019 innovation summit as thought leaders focus on innovation.
She runs Operation Next Gen, encouraging business opportunities that attract new residents to small towns, and keep young people around.
“It’s really about opening ourselves up to looking at existing landscapes with fresh eyes,” she said.
As previous industries had collapsed or left small towns they had left vacant spaces, Ms Anderson said, and new technology meant less people were needed on the land.
Yet, new technology also meant there were opportunities for people to live in small towns even if their jobs were not related to rural industries.
“In Quambatook I’ve just been talking with a lady who has an online business selling vintage clothing and collectibles. She has sales all over Australia,” Ms Anderson said.
She is one of nine Ci2019 scholarship recipients, who will all have the chance to pitch their ideas to global innovators, futurists, scientists and leaders.
“It’s so important not to forget our rural and regional areas (during discussions on innovation). It’s too easy to focus on city initiatives and opportunities,” she said.
“They are going to put us in a setting where we can learn what is happening in a global sense but also have exposure to people who could potentially help our causes.”
Ms Anderson said a visit to the conference in 2012 set her on her current path.
“It just made such a profound difference to the way I thought about things,” she said.
So to be able to go back and have a platform to talk to people about my work with rural towns will be fantastic.”
The recipients will have 60 seconds to pitch ideas.
They will focus on a range of topics including an augmented reality app, an AI and internet based technology for rapid diagnosis of cancer and a new charity changing mental health treatment in Australia.
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