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APEN 2001 International Conference

Toowoomba, 4th-5th October 2001

Report No:


Title of Topic:

Stem The Flow “ Keeping People and Services in Rural and Regional Communities”,

Name of Leader:

Amanda Miller

Names of Participants:

Vanessa Hood, Hamish Putt, Dan McLuskey, Tony Koch, Roy Murray-Prior, Rob Chattaway, Selina Handley, Emily Jenke, Darren Moor, Glen Millar, Peter Tonelli, Rebecca Scott, Alex Gordy, Gavin Inglis, Dan Galligan, Van Edwards, Nicole McLennan, Vickie Webb, Sam Simpson, Tony Nunan, Shane Flint. (22 Participants)

Main points of discussion

White Hat (Neutral, Objective)

“What are the facts of Rural Decline?”

  • Big Business is pulling out
  • Rural growth in some areas
  • Smaller sporting teams
  • Banks closing
  • Young people leaving to study and being encouraged to get a trade before returning.
  • Increase divorce, suicide, drugs and alcohol problems.
  • People are more educated.
  • Hard to get health professionals
  • Easier to move.
  • Heavily reliant on single industries (mining, agriculture)
  • Governments are getting smaller and are more centralised.
  • Lack of education opportunities (loosing schools, less teachers)
  • Smaller family size.
  • More efficient farming practices.
  • Hard to get professional development in rural areas.
  • Harder to progress higher (professionally)
  • Community cohesion doesn’t exist.
  • No confidence in future.
  • Less disposable time to contribute to the community
  • Lack of confidence in the lifespan of professionals (1st question is “so when are you going to leave”)
  • Lack of involvement in community by individuals.

Black Hat (Gloomy, Negative)

“Why can’t we keep people and services in regional and rural communities?”

  • Nothing to do in regional and rural communities
  • Too expensive to live there (education, fuel, food)
  • Too much negative emphasis
  • Less profitability in farming and still declining
  • Life and farming is more complicated
  • Government regulations – red tape
  • Can’t find work for couples
  • Withdrawing government services.
  • Regional boundaries change & jobs are changed (same chair but has worked in 3 government departments in 4 years)
  • Higher divorce rates
  • Creature comforts
  • No suitable accommodation (houses and tourist)
  • Depopulation strategy of governments (rural seats are a problem

Red Hat (Emotion)

“How do you feel about keeping people and services in regional and rural communities?”

Anger about lack of access and equity

  • Pissed off with decision makers (often based in cities)
  • Frustration about starting from scratch
  • Disillusioned by continual change
  • Annoyed at career opportunities (glass ceiling)
  • Upset when a community crashes and when conflict occurs as a result
  • Powerless in controlling/influencing community decline
  • Disappointed in effort made to make things work better.
  • Depressing, towns are just towns (no people there anymore)
  • Optimistic that communities can grow.
  • Worried that towns have spirit to hold them together. Sprit is the glue that holds them together and is melting.
  • Mystified about why people want to live elsewhere.

Yellow Hat (Sunny, Positive)

“What can regional and rural communities look like and be like?”

  • Vibrant
  • Positive people (talk it up)
  • Prosperous
  • Stable
  • Diverse
  • Further apart (some will go)
  • Maybe some have to close
  • New industries
  • Profitable diverse businesses
  • Community in control of destiny.
  • More people
  • More resources
  • Working/ Co-operating together
  • Safe
  • Government supporting rural communities
  • Happy young people
  • Towns with goals and visions
  • People caring what happens
  • Tourism is increased, promote your difference.

Major outcomes (what have you achieved from this discussion; how can this make a difference; what else do you need to do?)

Green Hat (Creative, Ideas)

“What can be done (by us) to keep people or encourage people to regional and rural communities?”

  • Learn/apply processes of community development
  • Talk it up (we can all be positive about our communities without much effort)
  • Town festivals/shows/races run to push community spirit
  • Welcome to (signs) for locations to announce the area and the community pride.
  • Sporting and social teams are supported (get involved in your local community)
  • Make your community unique. Find out what makes your community special and promote it.
  • Common directions of community members. Visions goals.
  • Advertising and promotion of your community – actively promote
  • Web page, get onto your state web page or create your own.
  • Increase salary for people working in rural towns and reward them for being there and working hard to keep the community growing.
  • Upgrade communications so we can spend less time driving and more time in our communities.
  • Invest in human capital. Without the people you have nothing.

Bite off more than you can chew………then chew bloody hard!!!!!

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