Now a recent study has showed that one million city living Australians will make a move to live outside such huge metropolitan areas. Research by Online lifestyle adviser Sea Change Success shows more than 200,000 city dwellers will radically change their lifestyle with a sea-change, while more than 700,000 will move to a regional area. (www.news.com.au)
Australian Workplace Innovation and Social Research Centre executive director John Spoehr said coastal and remote communities were a target of the NBN rollout, which would allow more people to work from home. "You may not have to change jobs," he said.
The country – rural and regional Australia – has much to offer. My wife Delma and I lived in rural Australia, a small country town of Moruya for 14 years which were thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated. Moruya is a coastal town on the south coast of NSW.
Nowadays, a significant part of our Well-Being Australia ministry involves Country Town Tours (CTT) which takes athletes and coaches to rural areas to act as role models. They speak at schools, youth groups, prisons, service clubs, churches, sports dinners, business lunches other community centres, as appropriate to the individual towns.
I personally recommends the 'bush' lifestyle to any families considering migrating to Australia, as this lifestyle has many advantages over city living.
In rural Australia, there is a much greater emphasis on 'community' than in the anonymous city. In small towns, people know each other. Some say that they live too much in each other's back pockets, none-the-less the great advantage of this, is that rural people have a proclivity to care for their neighbours and when the need is there, a whole range of people come to help.
This illustrates how country folk look after each other. For example, if there is a new baby, there is never any shortage of meals being provided; should there be sickness, there will always be someone available to collect the kids and see them home safely.
In regional cities and country towns, people may have large assets but they often have little cash flow. There is not the 'readies' to finance school programs, sports equipment and facilities or community needs. Here, rural Australia comes into its own with ingenious ways to counter every issue, making sure that if someone is honoured is some way, there is money for the trip and accommodation.
Rural social life
If you want an all-inclusive party or ball that everyone in the town attends, then rural Australia is the place to come! From the annual Local Show Ball to the Debutante Ball for which the girls have saved for that special dress, and boys have actually attended dance classes to the excitement of the Year 10 and Year 12 formals each year, to New Year's Eve parties for the adults and the infamous 'Bachelor and Spinster' balls for the young singles, country towns know how to party! No-one is excluded, following the traditions of older times when hard-working and isolated farm folk could forget their drab existence and come to town to kick up their heels for a night; sometimes travelling a hundred miles or so in their horse-and-cart.
Growing up in regional Australia, young people can gain a host of experiences that city young people simple do not encounter. Some of these include working on the family or friend's farm, or visits to a farm. Country kids would never, ever think that milk came in cartons or peas came from the freezer! There is a freedom for young people to in rural areas and take on responsibilities far younger than their city cousins: firstly because security issues are not so foremost – since everyone in the town looks out for others, and knows their neighbours; and secondly because people of necessity have to do more for themselves if the tradesmen or facilities are not 'just a phone call away', so that kids learn to be more self-reliant and independent.
This is manifest in the way the community agencies provide everyone with hands-on involvement – there is simply no-one else to do it, everyone from teenagers upward has to take part if the community is to survive. Whether that is with the SES, the Rural Fire Brigades, Church Youth Leadership Roles, the RSPCA, the Guiding and Scouting movements, there are so many options. The advantage in a small town is that the meetings or training is 'local' and close by, so that transport is not such an issue; and also the parents and teenagers are often involved in the same community activities, together. in the cities that the such activities are not entertained by a majority of city youth.
Families and Community
This participatory culture is extended to the whole community being involved in the school, the hospital and welfare groups with their various fetes and community fund raisers, dances, town functions and business gatherings. The rural community is one place where the local Shire Councillor and Mayor may live next door to each other – or to you - and seemingly many more things get done.
Another example is Wilcannia a rural NSW town that recently saw its supermarket close which drew so much attention that city retires are moving in and setting up house and shop, such as a cafe come gallery. Its bred new life into the town. (www.theglobalmail.org)
Rural and regional Australia is a great place for families and any migrant would be well pleased to have the opportunity to live within such a close-knit communities. As they become welcomed into the community, they will bring a fresh view of other cultures, other foods, and perhaps better ways of organising community events and the whole nation can benefit as a mutual understanding develops.
These sentiments are reported 'first hand' in the Sydney Morning Herald article of May 1st: ''One of the best things'', said a mother of three from Fiji, who now lives in Cooma, was that her circle of friends included a mix of Australian-born and people from many countries.
''There's no way we're moving,'' she said. ''A small country town is the best place. It's just perfect for us.''
Rural church life provides so many young Christians their chance at leading youth groups and preaching at youth services and similar roles which provide them significant training in self confidence and self reliance in every aspect of their lives.
The fly-in and fly-out recent dramas in Australia's mining centres continues to raise its ugly head in the face of continuing protests by rural and regional communities. I recently wrote about this dilemma which gained significant attention, titled: The Mining Industry is disparate to accommodate its work population (that includes families). (au.christiantoday.com)
In recent years the Government has put forward proposals to require migrants to move to regional and rural Australia.
This is nothing new. Over the past century, there have been many incentives for migrants to take up life in the country, the most well-known being the construction of the Snowy Mountains hydroelectricity scheme.
In 2010 there were 22,821 migrants associated with 'bush' employment live and work in regional and rural Australia. In these cases, the move was voluntary because that was where the work was, and these migrants were pleased to have the contract. (www.news.com.au)
Another 2010 report indicated that many who have moved to regional areas have adapted well, both partners often find work, and once they get used to the lifestyle they make new friends and find that country life is a very good alternative, even if they do not have all the 'bells and whistles' they are used to in the city. (www.smh.com.au)
I for one highly recommend anyone relocating to a rural or regional centre. It makes a bold move especially when there is no job (income) planned, but this is the spice of life. We now live in Tweed Heads, which is the southern tip over the border from the Gold Coast. Many of the old timers tell me that Tweed Heads is still a big country town. I seem to think it is too.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html