Every cloud has a silver lining – perhaps even those resulting from bushfires.
The devastating events of the past few weeks have thrown the public spotlight on rural and remote areas, and on the community spirit which so commonly exists in them.
Those events have also reminded us of the devotion and resilience of individuals who serve rural communities so expertly and selflessly: in rural fire services, the SES, Shire Councils, charitable organisations, the State and Federal public service, and many other bodies.
When the fires have gone and the healing has begun, let the public and its governments keep a focus on the communities of rural and remote Australia.
Let them recall that, despite the community organisations and the human resilience, people in rural communities need special ongoing consideration. They do not complain much but they experience a range of social and economic challenges which, if unaddressed, have an adverse impact on their health. And governments can and should help them meet those challenges.
Rural people do not want to be seen through a deficit lens - for life in country Australia is the best there can be.
Neither do they want to be thought about only when there is a fire or flood.
And neither do they want their community spirit and resilience to be seen as a reason for the public purse not to provide equivalent access to health, education, broadband or disability services.
“A government is like fire: a handy servant but a dangerous master.”
(Attributed to George Washington)
Gordon Gregory - Executive Director: 02 6285 4660
1 Luceus Annaeus Seneca; 4BC-65AD; tutor to Emperor Nero.