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Editorial May 6th 2022

Welcome to this week’s editorial, Like most homes across the region our letter box is brimming with electioneering pamphlets that promise the world. “Vote for me and I will do this”, “Vote for me and I will double what the other lot are promising”, “Vote for me because you can’t trust anyone else” and best yet, “Vote for me because I have a proven record of delivering”. At its heart the election is about what is wrong with the present and how, voting for someone, some party, the issues we face will be recognised, a solution and funding found, and then delivered. Wouldn’t that be nice, in a perfect world. From birth to death our rural and regional communities have a some very real problems that no end of promises appear capable of fixing. Our midwives are overworked and underpaid. There are too few of them, and their numbers decrease as their stress builds. Regional obstetricians are as rare as hen’s teeth, and paediatricians more so. Next come childcare facilities and vacancies. The high demand is there but the spaces are not. While the costs are virtually unaffordable, the desperate need for a second income to pay soaring costs sees families suckered in to the mire. Surely there must be a better way. Without doubt we are heading to a collapse if this continues. Something has to give. Most likely it will be our expectations that quality mothering and baby care should be available to everyone. One wonders when was it that we begin to accept less? Next comes education. So far our kids have been treated reasonably equally in child care but now the societal divide kicks in where the choice is made between Private and Public school. Parents are in a quandary as they see private schools receive extraordinary governmental assistance to ensure teacher ratios and provide quality resources. Meantime the public schools, try as they might, get by on the smell of an oily rag with underpaid teachers working overtime to deliver the best they can, driven by their professional passion and commitment. With the rise in disproportion our education system has become unbalanced and we are heading to an Us and Them. When did it become acceptable that public education be destined to be underfunded, under resourced, and become second tier? Are we becoming the Stupid Country? Then there is tertiary education. In recent years it has faced its own hurdles with cost blowouts, privatisation, funding stripped and curriculums dumbed down to accommodate more students so that the budget bottom lines are less affected. As a nation we have lost our momentum of being the smart country and finding a tradesperson has become a challenge as fewer students go on to study reducing the pool, and increasing the gaps in being able to service community needs. This segues to aged care. Now we, as a nation, need to accept that we have dropped the ball on aged care. What was once a dignified endplay for life has become a horror for so many who are living in fear that there are not the resources to provide even a reasonable expectation of care. Ask any Baby Boomer of their fear of growing old and infirmed and the response is usually one of dread and uncertainty. But none of the electioneering promises are dealing with the underbelly. No one is prepared to say they are responsible for what we now have and no-one is offering the detailed pathways to delivering the improvements needed. Our collective needs are basic. Affordable houses where we can live as healthy families, supported by a diversity of health providers, able to service most of our needs, from birth to death. All we need is a quality universal education system where all children are treated equally, with adequate staffing, facilities and resources and that each child has the opportunity, rich or poor, to attend to their tertiary studies. And finally, and not unreasonably, we might have a respectful end of life that enables us to live in dignity where the basic resources of timely, quality care are met. Those electioneering our mailboxes are saying “Vote for us because we are listening”. But are they. Have they? When you drill down and look at the buzz words, the spin, the motherhood statements and the waffle you realise that there isn’t any evidence of an understanding of the actual, real needs and expectations of you and I. It is all about them. When you look for detail it is found wanting. “Best not promise too much. Keep it light and fluffy. Tell them how bad the others are. Buzz Words, Slogans, it works every time.” And we are left exactly where we started, wondering when the small details will be recognised and acted on, and wonder why they aren’t, and wonder why they won’t be. Until next lei


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