REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: Don't begin to think regional Australia is second-best

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by Queensland Country Life senior journalist Sally Cripps.

Muscle cars, memories and more: Yes, you can get them in regional Australia, too. Photo: Shutterstock

Muscle cars, memories and more: Yes, you can get them in regional Australia, too. Photo: Shutterstock

It's that time of year - the owners of all those classic American muscle cars, prime movers with power, stretch limos, even delicate horse-drawn carriages - have had their annual payout.

A fresh crop of Year 12 students has graduated with gusto.

The city of Toowoomba, one of rural Queensland's secondary education hubs, is particularly alive at the end of November, when the glamour and charm of the all-girls gala of the Glennie School and the back-slapping high-fiving party of Toowoomba Grammar School stop the traffic as they pack out the party venues to say farewell to their compulsory schooling.

How many of our Year 12 graduates believe they will have a fairytale career in rural Australia amid the negative perceptions that abound?

How many of our Year 12 graduates believe they will have a fairytale career in rural Australia amid the negative perceptions that abound?

Hundreds of kilometres west the camaraderie is much the same on a more intimate level at the Longreach School of Distance Education graduation ceremony, where one mum said farewell to 19 years of teaching her six children.

Those dozen pre-teens gathered at Longreach know they will be going on to secondary schooling, while many of the tens of thousands of school leavers around Australia are now either waiting hopefully of news of tertiary offers or looking for a job.

But the cohort finishing up at unis and colleges - they're at the pointy end now.

Can we expect that only the young people who live in rural areas will want to make a career and a life there?

Can we expect that only the young people who live in rural areas will want to make a career and a life there?

When they're considering where they might want to work, do you think they're going to be thinking favourably about a career in rural Australia when they read headlines such as "Recruits cop long remote postings"?

Written by an urban print media outlet a couple of weeks ago, it explores a new system implemented by the Queensland Police Service that will see recruits sent to regional postings for three years instead of one.

Without getting into the fine points of the story, it sent steam through my ears at the inference that a job in the bush would be a poor cousin to working in a major urban centre.

Yes, it can be tricky looking for the positive in rural parts at the moment - Australia has just recorded its driest spring on record, which the continuing dust storms attest to, bushfires have scorched more than 40,000ha in Queensland, and animal activists continue their quest to shut sectors of livestock businesses down.

But, as the agricultural publications I write for have shown with their 100 Stories of Hope campaign, there's plenty of positivity about living in rural areas, and inspirational stories abound.

I don't have the answers to solving this lopsided urban perception - I have written my fair share of positive rural stories over the years - but I'm not copping it quietly on the chin anymore!

It's time to call out those assumptions, especially if we want some of those bright and keen graduates to work in the bush.

Sally Cripps, Queensland Country Life senior journalist

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