Fake news and government’s actions not matching their rhetoric must end.
Some of the key challenges
Infrastructure provides the platform for future business but is under pressure with growing levels of demand and insufficient maintenance. Better planning and coordination are vital to ensure that infrastructure investment is efficient and appropriately targeted for the individual communities.
For regional communities, access to good infrastructure is a critical priority. Freight must be able to move seamlessly from farm gates to kitchen tables and from mines to ports. Better regulation and the use of new technology, particularly in the areas of transport, communication, energy and water, will make the existing infrastructure more efficient and productive.
To succeed and grow in today’s global marketplace, regional, rural and remote economies and their businesses and social services must be able to connect with the rest of the country and the world.
Over the past decade, communication technologies such as mobile phones, the internet and email are now an essential part of life. Service levels in rural and remote areas are widely regarded as lagging behind those in urban areas.
The high capital costs of upgrading telecommunications services in rural and remote areas, and the relatively poor returns that are likely from such investments, have generally deferred spending on such infrastructure. Governments need to have more appreciation of the problems and their impact production and on the national economy.
Many rural areas are experiencing an ageing population, and with it, an increase in chronic diseases, disability, and pressure on their communities health care systems in order improve lifestyles and to retain these communities population base while stopping the decline in regional population as people become more city-centric.
Businesses of all shapes and sizes in rural communities are facing increasingly difficult competitive forces with globalisation and the new technologies. Fluctuations across both international and local markets are creating a persistent challenge that needs to be addressed.
The complex changes are testing the resolve of people to stay and continue to support their communities. A dynamic global and social environmental along with structural change means big challenges for the people in the bush, where the pace of change is much slower.
Shifting weather patterns and changes in land use, natural resources and fuels, are also driving the need for people and businesses to change and adapt in order to continue to survive and thrive.
Climate change represents a significant challenge for rural and regional areas, with many communities having to endure droughts, floods and fire incidences occurring more regularly. Ongoing and increasing climate variability requires rural communities to adapt more quickly in order to maintain social and economic prosperity.
“None of us is as smart as all of us”. Ken Blanchard
There is an urgent need to start planning for a future that is likely to mean reduced water availability for towns, farms and industries. The increased frequency of extreme weather events is changing crop yields and quality, requiring more scientific input.
As well as a changing climate, there is a broad range of other environmental pressures facing rural areas that need ongoing action. These include salinity, weeds, loss of biodiversity, water management, soil erosion, feral pests and degradation of river systems.
Costs of inaction are high, and if not addressed would be borne by future generations. Land and water degradation and weeds are already estimated to cost up to $7.5 billion a year in Australia. Most environmental issues require a long-term commitment to address degradation and embed a more sustainable approach to their use.
Over the coming years, 50% more food will be needed to feed the world’s growing population which means transport and technology infrastructures in rural areas need to be greatly improved and expanded.
There will also be increased demand for minerals, energy and water providing unprecedented opportunities for those who live in rural and remote areas
Skill shortages must be addressed. Whether it is business people, tradespeople, doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers and so on. Access to skilled professionals for many is more difficult than for metropolitan businesses.
The fact is, you’re not always going to know what to do in every situation you encounter and you will not have to react to every disruptive force.
Global competition and technological advances are coming fast and ruthlessly to every industry in every community with no regard for societal consequences. Unless the local community takes charge and understands the disruptions and the possible consequences, difficult challenges and their associated struggles will continue.
There are many ways a community can face difficult challenges. Why not try introducing some economic gardening principles, or even establish an entrepreneurial ecosystem and watch your community start to move forward like never before.
But what does matter, is that you do your best and make sure everyone’s problems, frustrations, wants and needs are communicated clearly and addressed to your ability and capacity, all while keeping your integrity.
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You will need to be realistic about the challenges that regional communities face. Challenges will have been aggravating those who seek change from decades of neglect and the ignorance that can come with isolation and loneliness.
It is important to tread lightly on old issues until you fully understand them. The same goes for ‘sacred old cows’. If the community has been unable to solve their big issues, what makes you think you can?
The economic value of startups lies in their potential and should never be underestimated, by governments or anyone else. If a community loses a potential growth business, in the end, the economic gains are only marginal. An attitude of ‘set and forget’ has proven to be unacceptable.
Trying to attract high growth companies to a community to boost employment is a failed strategy, it is far better for a community to learn how to grow and nurture their own.