Susie Dunn – May you live in interesting times …

Comments (0) Susie Dunn

I was always told was an old Chinese curse. Well, it turns out it’s not. Fake news! But why should interesting times be a curse anyway, if you keep your wits about you?

Whatever the irony, having had another hospital spell, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to refocus and recalibrate. Times are certainly interesting in our region. The more my experiences tell me, the more I’m convinced we can have tremendous opportunities here.

People all over the world are tired of adversarial politics. Now we’re in an era when decisive strategic thinking in a collaborative atmosphere pays more than ever. Or, we’ll be condemned to slipping backwards and out of the game.

It’s been marvellous to feel a lift in energy and morale here over the past months of administration, and I do hope some won’t look for fault with every new announcement, rather looking for the things to be glad about. The announcement of the new Super School is a case in point. The students I’ve asked so far have all seen it as a good thing – after all, they’re the market, and surely we should listen to the coming generations? The Principals of Duval and Armidale High seem excited, and the district P&C President, despite some concerns, said, “We are an education hotspot … this will enhance (all) those facilities – it’s great for the kids and the teachers”. Our hard-working State MP, Adam Marshall, obviously listened around and worked for this result.

As far as I can see, the provision of a Performing Arts Centre there brings yet another standout facility to our region, at last providing a venue for visiting “blockbuster” shows and large conferences. At the same time, realistically it will predominantly be for the school community and would inevitably fall into the same problems the general community have with booking Lazenby when it’s needed by the university. The same is happening for smaller shows at the Hoskins as TAS grows. Institutional use answers the perennial question of viability for a space. Meanwhile, what’s wrong with working for a central, smaller purpose-built space in the city? There’s an exciting new possibility, as well as a site proposed near NERAM.

In Victoria there’s talk about creating a new “education city”. We have rather a headstart, don’t we? Reading more than tealeaves, tapping into the future we could be accepted as one of the most desirable places to live in the nation, one where the need for plumbers, electricians, carpenters, teachers, doctors, butchers, bakers and (scented) candlemakers is self-generating. Tempers in metropolitan cities are noticeably getting shorter, and more people look for a future outside increasingly uneven struggles in a tightening population boom. We need to be active in promoting ourselves.

My recent Sydney hospital experiences led me to hope that when our rebuild opens, it won’t follow the same big-city mindset – technology removing the personal, with a worrying tendency towards inefficiency and waste while staff are hypnotised by their computers as robots pass them with linen and food. Here we still can have warmer, people-focused attitudes. I hope bureaucracy doesn’t snuff this out.

I was lucky to be present in the Armidale Cemetery at the dedication of a memorial commemorating Aboriginal people buried in unmarked graves. The ceremony was another marking a busy local NAIDOC week, themed “Our Languages Matter”. [As an early NADOC (sic) Honorary General Secretary after leaving Qantas Special Promotions, NAIDOC holds particular meaning for me.]

Exciting to see NERAM doing a Cinderella, getting ready to dance at the ball. Another positive new chapter and another great lift to overall morale.

We must never forget that agriculture created our towns. Food production offers immense career opportunities, on-farm to university. Beef, lambs, mutton and wool prices continue to please, with positivity generally in the sector. People always need to eat, and we can continue to meet that market.

Let’s keep morale on a high and look to the future with fresh views, opening ourselves to new transformative options in the coming Council elections.

Susie Dunn.

Hurray! Council is further trialling outdoor dining options for the Mall.

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