This year's draft City of Greater Bendigo budget represents a set of challenges like no other.
In any other year, the presentations from senior officers and managers would have been completed by mid-March, and preliminary budgets refined again and again for perhaps another month.
This year is different, and a global pandemic that unfolded for us two months ago, ultimately leading to a global recession, presents challenges to test us all.
If we are to prosecute the case for a two per cent rate rise, then the community needs to know that their monies are being spent as wisely and prudently as possible.
Bendigo needs to look at where it has come from and what it has been through in the past decade or so, and set a course for where it wants to be in another decade, and beyond.
Bendigo now needs its political, business and community leaders to push for the support we need to help in the recovery of the next few years. This has never been more important than it is right now.
The business community needs to identify what's needed, prepare a case and ensure it is pursued.
Community groups, sporting organisations and the other unsung heroes of our region who make such a valuable contribution to our way of life need to be given the funding and tools to continue to firstly survive, and secondly prosper.
Vulnerable citizens - be they homeless, low income households, those exposed to domestic violence or others with significant health issues need ongoing assurances and support that they will not be left behind.
Infrastructure to help more of us work more effectively from home is urgently needed.
It's not council's job to provide all this, but it has a significant role to play in advocating for change.
The nation-building initiatives that the Prime Minister has been promoting cannot happen without local engagement, lobbying and cooperation.
The role our region's leaders play in delivering our future has never been more important.