As you may know regional communities are important for Evolve Network. A lot of our consultancy work has been in this realm. The following post is for our friends working in regional Aus.
As I speak with people who reside in regional communities they tell me time and time again their greatest issues revolve around a lack of funding, lack of engagement among Elders and youth and sometimes (often) other people in the community too. They tell me about drug and alcohol misuse stemming from not enough services and opportunities and a constant trail of ‘white cars’ (read Government vehicles) with little to no progress.
People often tell me what life was like when they were a kid, they speak about swimming in rivers, staying out until dark (or they were hungry) and feeling safe. They tell me kids just aren’t like that any more.
These issues are not unique to any community I’ve ever visited.
When we talk about solutions the ideas are always abundant but sadly, it’s the action component that often fails these passionate people.
It’s rarely because they are too lazy, it’s the things that stifle action that I believe are actually the greatest issues in our regional communities. Solving these issues will certainly create change, big change. And it doesn’t need to cost a thing.
So what are the issues?
- Lack of collaboration
The reasons for a lack of collaboration are many and varied. They are as much within the community as they are external to it. I wonder if you’ve noticed any of these in your community:
- Services that don’t collaborate because they are competing for service funding and the same client groups.
- Families or community members that won’t work together because of long lasting politics
- Renegades / White Saviours (more on that in a post soon) / ‘Professionals’ that won’t work with anyone else because they are looking to be the communities ‘hero’ (aka they think they know better)
Ask any of these groups why they don’t collaborate and they’ll most certainly tell you that you
are wrong. In reality, there is a lot of exclusion in the effort of social inclusion.
- Outreaching and service distribution
You won’t have to dig too hard in little communities to discover the outreaching myth. Small marginalised communities have long been ‘pimped’ for their sexy statistics of disadvantage. Of course regional communities, particularly the smaller ones know that it’s unlikely services will be deliver directly in their towns every day. But the problem with massive regional applications which incorporate these townships is that boxes get ticked. And when the service never, ever visits the town (yes, it does happen) nor provide transport options for people who don’t have access to public transport (yes, many) they have no access to that service. This is often the case with services like mental health support services, drug and alcohol and even employment support.
- Grants and funding
Have you ever waited for a grant before you got started on your excellent idea? The solution to that equation is simple.
It’s never impossible to start without funding. In fact, it’s likely that funding will slow down your progress. Find the things you can do for free and find them today. Get started, move into action.
- Things being done in a particular way because that’s the way they were always done: change allergy
Years ago I had the audacity to donate a computer to a museum. “Oh no dear” I was promptly told “we don’t do it like that here”.
I rolled my eyes and disengaged from sharing my ‘bright ideas’. (probably much to their delight).
But there’s something in this story that needs to be considered.
If Elders aren’t engaging in community life, and if young people aren’t engaging either something needs to change. Clearly the offering that they seek is not on the table.
- Permission, insurance and litigation
Geez, I can feel my insurer twitching about this upcoming statement. I can no longer count the amount of community event organisers who told me they can’t run their event because of insurance. Yes, yes, I know that insurance has certainly become a big, massive burden of recent years. But don’t let the conversation stop there. Find a way around. You be surprised.
Of course permission as well as insurance are important factors as much for the sake of respect as saving potential legal teeth nashing. But, sometimes (sorry to tell you) it’s just an excuse. Perhaps an excuse of the powers that be. Perhaps your own excuse.
So, over the next few weeks I thought we’d explore these points, and some potential solutions in greater depth. It will be a platter of offerings for you – you can read some tasty tips on the blog, if you want a little more make sure you join our VIP list for a more in depth look AND for those of you ready for action check our online store for some exciting upcoming offerings.