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AgLife: The importance of persistence

There are a few smiles over Yarriambiack way. 

It’s only a small step, but the recent announcement of funding for phase one of a ‘Distributed Housing Project’ is pretty exciting. 

We get to build 14 two-bedroom homes across five towns in the shire. Warracknabeal, Woomelang, Hopetoun, Murtoa and Rupanyup will see the tradies move in before the end of this year.

As you ‘grow up’ you come to realise the importance of persistence. 

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For the past three or four years we have been telling anyone who will listen, it makes no sense to keep building large estates of thousands of houses in a barren paddock on the edge of our major cities. 

It will be many years before the public infrastructure is in place to support this new population. 

In the meantime, congestion increases and housing affordability decreases.   

By contrast, many rural communities have surplus public infrastructure. The roads, schools and sporting facilities are built. 

The missing piece has been the houses.  A lack of housing is the major impediment for people considering a move to rural-regional areas. 

But conversely, developing good quality housing can be the key to attracting the thousands of people we need to address the chronic skills shortage holding back many areas in regional Australia. 

Latest numbers from Regional Australia Institute show 85,000 advertised jobs in the regions. And there will be many more jobs not advertised.

So why not build 50 houses in each of 20 different towns? Fifty houses... maybe 200 more people to spend in the shops, go to the school, be a part of the sporting teams.

We were lucky in Yarriambiack. 

We had a progessive council led by a dynamic chief executive in Jessie Holmes.  We had a community bank able to put some seed funding on the table to show local community commitment. We had a kind of unspoken but collective persistence… let’s just keep at this until we succeed.

The trick now is to build momentum; to turn 14 houses into 1400 houses. 

There’s a growing national conversation about the lack of social and affordable housing in Australia. And it seems to be across the political spectrum. 

All political parties realise the importance of access to housing as a basic human need. And influential groups like superannuation funds and philanthropic organisations are also beginning to invest.

So the time is right to raise our rural voice. 

Local councils, industry lobby groups and individual businesses all have a role to play in highlighting the need and the opportunity. 

Given the acute public focus on access to housing, there will be increased investment by government and industry. 

Let’s make sure we’re a part of it. 

The entire May 25, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire May 25, 2022 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!