The region's future is in our hands
WHEN I first returned to Rockhampton 17 years ago, the Friday night plane home was a veritable party.
There were lots of people connecting with the outside world and each Friday night they brought home what they had seen had learned elsewhere. Many of those people put ideas into practice and our community was better for it.
Years later I see few familiar faces on the plane.
It's the result of a decline in the influence of regional areas and with that, attrition in the knowledge and decision making capacity so necessary for vibrancy and growth. It's a massive problem that needs to be recognised.
One person worth listening to who remains in our region is the crusty, yet talented, Dr Hilary Mercer (pictured).
Unless you have a child with disability, or some other paediatric ailment, you'll probably never know the combination of straight-shooting assessment, kindness and professional interest that lies within his Beerholme suites (for a Scandinavian word, it sure sounds Aussie).
In a recent letter to the editor (TMB May 3) Hilary notes that regional areas are indeed more prone to "obesity, alcoholism, diabetes and suicide", but that the answer is not in throwing money at more hospitals and health services.
Unpopular as it may be, his point is that "the individual himself has to make life-changing decisions" and that getting people into employment (perhaps against their inclination) is a big factor.
I'd add that our own regional professionals have the means and duty to help force policy measures that support these sorts of goals and should use it.
What strikes me most about Hilary's observations however is that that they are not just medical.
They are observations that cut to the core of what we must do if we want to reinvigorate our region.
What are you doing to build a better economy and social environment? Valuable as they might be, are you waiting to ride the economic wave of the next dam?
The next hospital car-park? A casino at Great Keppel? A new mine?
Or are you recognising the vast opportunities that already exist and actually doing something about it.
Some people are. The recent Lifestyle expo was a big success and Brahman Week also went well.
The upcoming table tennis championships will bring people to town. Likewise CQU's Water Industry Operations conference, the recent Capras verse PNG match and major junior sporting events which I understand were hosted by Emmaus.
Business, Government, not-for profit or individual, the future of our region lies fairly and squarely with us.