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Editorial March 25th 2022

Welcome to this week’s editorial, As we wake from the slumber of lockdowns and begin to pensively explore our region hoping the dreaded Rona might have left the building we are steadily becoming more and more aware that the world, our world, our corner of the planet has changed. The once sleepy South East has seen a population boom is the past year. Traffic is noticeably more apparent and our midday streets, once the realm of our retired idly enjoying the day, have become a buzz with young families doing their shopping and chores. While this augers well for our local economy there is a noticeable difference that has given us a concerning underbelly. We now are beginning to see the transition of the Sleepy South East into a poor cousin of the city with all the negatives the city has to offer. Homes that were once considered safe if the doors and windows were locked are now under threat of break-ins from a new breed of criminal. A criminal that really doesn’t care about consequences. Our once quiet streets now enjoy late night marauders in their stylish hoodies running rampant. Kicking in car doors, destroying mailboxes, vandalising what ever is in their path and fearlessly testing the once safe, quiet, and peaceful enjoyment of our homes. All with a flagrant impunity. Our new day in the South East seems to have collectively lost its pride. Lawns are left unmowed after the relentless rains and unseasonal humidity that saw them growing back overnight. Many are just waiting for the boggy ground we now have to dry and for winter to come to slow the growth. The Council is suffering the same boggy fate and our parks and reserves are not the showcase places we were once proud of. But with this lessening of “standards” comes a broader lessening. Rubbish, once put into the bin now finds its way to the footpath or roadside. Why? Where did our pride go and how was it replaced with a “Don’t care any more”. Across the region there is a universal build-up of stress. There is housing stress, financial stress, job stress, health stress; the list goes on. At every turn is a new outlet offering help in mental stress. Some say it began with the bushfires and others say it came with Covid and the lockdowns. Whatever brought it to the South East has brought so much more that we need to recognise and address. We have a serious housing problem. All one needs to do is to go to our long stay camping grounds and parks to find those who no longer have a home. Some were forced to leave when rents increased or homes were sold. Others no longer had employment and some have newly acquired mental issues that have resulted in the disintegration of their families and their lives. Hiding among the Grey Nomads are the many who have no option but to live in their cars. These are us. They are our community. We have left them out in the rain. Now winter approaches and they are still in their tattered tents huddled by camp fires trying to get by. We see them listless in the street or parked overnight in the shadows at the mercy of the gangs of youth running torment in the night. This is the new South Coast. A place where nobody appears to have any solutions, nor to be in charge. A new future is fast approaching. One that will require planning to ensure we can expect a reasonable delivery of basics of affordability. Given we have one of the oldest demographics in the State our elderly sit precariously on a thin blade where, if unable to meet rising utility costs, rates and loans, they will instead cut down on food, health and well being. Add to that our underemployed who barely survive along with the growing numbers on Centrelink payments and you begin to appreciate that the property boom with million dollar houses is not a true reflection on the economic well being of the place we call home. I fear more dark days ahead. If we talk about it maybe we can prepare. But nobody is saying much at all. Until next lei

Above: little difference between 1923 and today - surely we are better than this?