With the year hurtling towards the end already, I find myself trying to take stock of all that has happened and what this might mean as we move into the festive season, and the New Year.
I have had lots of conversations this year around innovation - what it means for rural areas, how businesses are embracing technology, what this means for the younger generation and the workforce that they will be moving into.
Invariably the conversation ends up landing on the fact that access to decent, fast, cheap internet is what is holding us back.
While there are individuals in rural Queensland taking on the connectivity challenges head on and finding solutions that work for them in St George or Richmond, I haven’t come across a silver bullet to this issue in my travels I’m afraid!
What has piqued my interest though is the discussion that has run parallel to the connectivity conversation – the fact that as rural and regional communities there is renewed energy to come together to clearly identify and articulate these challenges and progress ideas to action.
Whether it is a group in Goondiwindi looking how to help each other with on-farm problems, local government wanting to investigate ways to bring communities together in new spaces and ways, and deliver training to people to ensure their businesses can manage difficult times, or the Forsayth district in north west Queensland building a new tourism industry - rural Queensland is certainly grabbing problems with both hands and taking action.
We saw this too in a sea of green shirts earlier this year, and the way that women are standing together to support each other.
This seems to be resulting in a resurgence of community engagement and interaction. So, while our connectivity might be hopeless I think our connection to each other is better than ever!
And what does this connection bring? Better mental health in our communities, support and positivity, empathy for others, and an ability to have robust conversations with each other to challenge ideas, and take individual action to build the rural communities we all want to live and work in.
Not a bad year if you think about it like that! So with that in mind, how can you use the festive season as a way to finish the year connected to those around you?
– Julia Telford, Engage and Create Consulting