Upset over ‘negative’ article
A RECENT article published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in their “Townie Tales” section has caused many Warracknabeal and district residents upset, as it paints a picture of a dying town.
Many people say this is not the case, with Yarriambiack shire Mayor Kylie Zanker having only good things to say about our thriving towns.
She said the Townie Tales series that was on ABC radio was informative, and could be alarming if looked at in isolation.
“However, I don’t believe it paints the whole picture. I’m not for one minute wanting to suggest that ‘it’s easy’, because it’s not. However, as my grandmother used to say, ‘if it was easy everyone would do it’,” she said.
The latest population statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that Yarriambiack Shire is slightly down from the population of last year. The population decline equates to approximately 104 people across the whole shire.
The article by ABC provided information based on interviews with multiple Warracknabeal businesspeople, including farmer Calvin Muller, Rush with Tegan owner Tegan Wyllie and Rusty Nail proprietor Danny Johnson
Mr Muller said: “In the past year, I’ve watched as six different families within six kilometres of my farm have sold up and moved to town or larger regional centres.”
“There used to be a farm on every 640 acres,” he said, “That’s going back 50-odd years, but now some farmers have thousands of acres and that’s just really showing up in the effects on the community.”
Mayor Zanker said that she was not denying that farms are getting larger and that, in Mr Muller’s area, those families had sold and moved to larger towns or larger regional areas.
“I was intrigued to find out what happens when these farms get larger,” she said.
“Surely one farmer cannot manage all the land alone and in many of the cases that I investigated the larger farming corporations often employ people, and in some cases offering traineeships for youth of the area.”
“One large farming entity has four employees, with many of the employees having partners and children.”
“These children attend the regional kindergartens and schools, their partners shop at the supermarket, play sport within their area and so on.”
Mayor Zanker said she took her hat off to people in business, as it’s not an easy task.
“To see any business close is disappointing, however as difficult as it may be at times, I think we need to try to be positive,” she said.
“Positive engagement and promotion of our communities as a place to live and grow is the way forward.”
“Circular migration, positive promotion and talking up what’s right about our communities is the key to addressing the problem.”
“Our communities are the place to return to when couples are looking at raising their families, our communities are a place to return to when you have gained your qualifications and they are vibrant and engaging.”
Once people leave for education and training the chance to return “home” is the thought we need to be reinforcing in people’s minds, a choice that is always available. Most often people move for a life change, and Yarriambiack communities offer this.
Council and many business houses are looking at the “learn local” strategy. This is where employees’ and youth within the area are offered the opportunity to further learn and enhance their skills whilst staying within the area.
Mayor Zanker said traineeships, cadetships, mentoring programs and skill development within organisation’s were wonderful examples of this.
“Yarriambiack Shire, Rural Northwest Health, the Commercial Hotel, Woodbine and I’m sure countless other businesses’ promote and support employee’s to undertake study whilst working,” she said.
Within the ABC article, Warracknabeal business proprietor Tegan Wyllie commented on the lack of regional support from shoppers.
She said that, unfortunately, the “shop local” campaign didn’t always pay off and people were shopping out of town.
Mayor Zanker said she was not denying that there were businesses in the district that were closed.
“However, if you walk up the street in Horsham you too will find businesses that have closed, if you walk up the street in Ballarat and Melbourne you will see them,” she said.
Mayor Zanker said people too often tend to forget the positive, such as the new businesses that open.
“Rupanyup Living in Rupanyup is a fantastic example of this,” she said.
“The other positive that we often forget to focus on is the extensive list in the situations vacant in the regional paper.”
These have recently included service technicians, machinery sales consultant, apprentice chef, bar and wait staff, dental assistants, receptionists, truck drivers, heavy machinery operator, diesel mechanic, maintenance supervisor, Occupational Health and Safety advisor, teachers, allied health assistant, lifestyle officer, nurses, personal care attendant, civil construction, plant serviceman and shop assistants.
“This is positive and a sign of growth and vibrant strong communities as these positions demonstrate growth within regional businesses,” Mayor Zanker said.
There is no magic fix, change takes time and everyone has a vital part to play.
“Shop within the region, keep your support regional, ask before you look outside to another town,” Mayor Zanker said.
“Everyones support is a vital. We need to work in partnership together, businesses and individuals, to reinforce and promote the region. Live, shop and promote your region with pride,” she said.
“If people do feel they need to leave the area remember to live, learn and then return. Come back to Yarriambiack.”