Charles Sturt University (CSU) Strategic Adviser – Regional Development Fiona Nash sees a bright future for NSW’s regional communities, and is talking about the challenges and opportunities at the Australian Regional Development Conference in Tweed Heads on 17 September.
“In spite of the challenges the regions face, many people are unaware of the positive things happening in regional communities,” Ms Nash said.
“They don’t hear a lot about the significant contribution that mining and agriculture make to the economy, the impact of strong commodity prices and the movement of people from the cities to the regions.
The future of the regions is a positive one, despite the challenges and impact of drought.”
Ms Nash said the regions need to talk up their strengths, particularly the benefits that passionate local leadership can deliver.
“Yes we should be investing, yes we should be encouraging young people to either stay in, or come back to, regional communities,” Ms Nash said.
“In spite of the challenges, positive local leadership makes a real difference to a community.”
Ms Nash is delivering a speech entitled “Regional Australia: Driving the Nation Forward” and it’s something she knows about, having lived and worked in regional NSW for much of her life.
“I love the sense of community in the regions. It’s hard to understand how wonderful it is unless you live and breathe it,” Ms Nash said.
“Regional people are straightforward. You can enjoy fresh air, not be clogged up in traffic. It’s also where the generation of real wealth driving the nation is coming from.
“Regional Australia is responsible for around 67 per cent of our exports and 45 per cent of domestic tourism. The regions clothe the cities, feed the cities and power the cities.”
In her role as CSU Strategic Adviser, Ms Nash is working with the University to highlight the significant contribution the regions make to the nation, both economically and socially, and the part CSU plays as an anchor institution.
“CSU is doing an incredibly good job delivering for the regions – with students graduating in the regions and staying to work in the regions,” Ms Nash said.
“CSU is making an impact by graduating students in disciplines the regions need.”
Ms Nash also said that CSU helped build communities by working in partnership to grow opportunities in places where CSU campuses are located.
She noted that the partnerships with local business, government and local organisations deliver practical benefits to their communities, referring to the recent joint initiative between CSU, Cadia Mine and Regional Development Australia Central West to encourage institutions to procure food from local producers as one example.
“It’s part of what the University does in leading the way for regions and partnering with the regional community.”