Strong pillars are necessary to support strong structures, as they do in our community.
They come in all sizes and kinds: the basic pillars of health, education, local government, law enforcement, transport, communications, including the NBN etc.
Multiple pillars holding up our community are the volunteers – God bless them! Across all sorts of activities our citizens give their help, their time and enthusiasm, and in return feel that their “commitment to contribute” brings rich rewards.
And there are individuals who stand as firm supporters – and if anyone’s appearance embodies a pillar it is Steve McMillan, Chair of the Armidale Sports Council. The Council records the estimated boost to the local economy through sporting events, and the figures are significant: March 2015 $1,161,175; 2015 year to date $5,295,245. Not to be sneezed at! And sport here is played for the love of it, without those pressures distorting it when commerce becomes prime.
Some other interesting local figures to ponder are those from the UNE Law School: UNE is the biggest online LLB provider, with 1,050 students (out of 3,800 EFTSL in Australia), plus our on-campus LLB students, plus post-grad and research students. Altogether, Professor Michael Stuckey, Head of the School of Law, says that we are one of Australia’s largest providers of legal education. Be proud!
With the official opening by the Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, the 7,000 acre UNE SMART Farm Innovation Centre is “pretty well unmatched in Australia and in most of the world,” Vice-Chancellor Annabelle Duncan said. It showcases the technology, science and farming practices which are changing the future of Australian agriculture. The opportunities for young people entering the sector now seem unlimited, as NSW Young Farmers councillor Tim Carroll has said, calling for the building of resilient farming operations. “It’s about know-how – being able to get the funds together and ensuring the investment will create a viable business.”
Sounds the right basis for businesses generally. Local businesses which look to the future, know their product and their customers and give service and attention to detail deserve to win through. They can contrast with the increasingly disconnected and dislocated “service” that increasingly comes through very big, distant operations where so many different departments and outsourcing often combine to lose basic efficiencies.
There are signs too that some locals are experimenting with different models in running their businesses to suit the conditions and market. I can’t help thinking that’s a good thing that should pay off, particularly if they liaise with the like-minded.
Projections point to Sydney and Melbourne each being home to more than 8 million people by the 2050s. Imagine the logistics of managing the structures of daily life then. Times are changing fast with globalisation and technology, and we too must look to the future and adapt. We need our pillars to keep the structure of our community distinctive and secure.
Hopefully within the national future our citizens will be living enhanced and productive and fulfilling lives, framed by the beauties and challenges of the natural world so closely surrounding us.
We’re all in this together – it’s about people. We have the ingredients for optimism and success, and it’s over to us for the energy and drive to use them.
With the gift of four different seasons locally, we all have a favourite and I really think autumn is mine – so I’m enjoying it. But don’t forget your ‘flu jabs – I’ve just had weeks of a really bad dose, so take my word and take care.
And, finally, congratulations are due to Hayley Ward, winner of this year’s Armidale Art Prize, now on show at the Armidale Art Gallery in the Mall.