Across The Region

This week I spent several days in the bustling business environment of North Sydney where I cut my teeth as an advertising executive way back when.

1a north sydney

I noticed the tired, expressionless faces board the jam packed public transport services en route to places of work and rest and indulged in conversations designed for eavesdropping with my co-travellers about the cost effectiveness of living in the beautiful Mid North Coast.

The conference I’d been invited to attend was hosted by the Australian Drug Foundation.  What does drug and alcohol usage have to do with economic development you may ask?

Let’s begin here… The Australian Drug Foundation reports;

“Alcohol and other drugs cost Australian workplaces an estimated $6 Billion per year in lost productivity.  Recent research has estimated that 2.5 million days are lost annually due to alcohol and other drugs, at a cost of more than $860 million”.

What are the implications for our region?  At this point we do not have adequate data to understand this, however we are working on strategies to remedy this situation.  How? You may ask.  Well, remember the collaborative practice I was writing about just last week?  That’s how.

Uncle Barry Hoskins and Uncle Martin Ballangarry at the CDAT Conference.
Uncle Barry Hoskins and Uncle Martin Ballangarry at the CDAT Conference.

You may also be interested to know that there are numerous Community Drug Action Teams (CDATs) throughout our region.  If you are interested in doing something in this area I’d highly recommend connecting with them.  When I was involved in setting up a CDAT team in the township of Bowraville, NSW in 2008 we utilised the team (and associated funding) to start a community market.  Ah ha !  Another economic development activity supporting small producers, creative industries and the viability of shops and hospitality outlets in the town on market day with ripple effects on other days as well.

Out and about

This week I met with several members of the Hastings Council Economic Development team (I’m coming back in the near future for your picture for our social media).  One of my primary tasks at the moment is considering the role of RDAMNC now and into the future.  Conversations with the Councils throughout our region are a very valuable platform to draw this information together.

I loathe meaningless service duplication and seek to identify, and apply the most viable, sustainable and relevant application of RDAMNC’s charter in our region.  This information gathering will accelerate next week and I’ll look forward to sharing more details with you in my next post.

I also met with Gail Whiteford regarding numerous upcoming research projects RDAMNC will be undertaking.  Gail informed us of numerous projects which are aligned to the work RDAMNC is currently undertaking including:

Bridges to Higher Educationan ongoing initiative, funded by the Commonwealth Government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) from 2012 to 2015, to improve the participation rates of students from communities under-represented in higher education.

The Bridges to Higher Education website hosts an impressive Engagement Framework Toolkit sharing the wealth of knowledge generated through the project.  If you are an education practitioner, or have an interest in student engagement check it out.

Gail is also the convenor of the Women in Future Innovation (WIFI) Leadership Development Program for North Coast Local Health District.  This acclaimed program is now in the process of extending beyond the health sector, if you are a woman in a leadership position keep your ears open.

As I conclude this rather long post I reflect (or is it smirk) about a comment I heard at Central Station just this week.  My fellow regional travels had held open a lift for a couple who were a bit slow getting to the doors.

“You’re not from around here are you?” The couple smiled.

We all laughed, realising that old adage is true – you can take the people out of the country – but you can’t take the country out of the people.


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