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  • Writer's pictureFiona Prior

Putting the country back into the city

Updated: May 18, 2020

Putting the country back into the city …

As a friend and I (heatedly) discussed recently, the opening up of the world post-covid is all about experts world-wide finding a balance between immediate health threats and what will ultimately be human casualties that are yet to be felt due to covid-19 related economy meltdown.

Our young ones can’t guess at the extent of damage to come. How can they? Even those of us who are alert have no real idea of the carnage that is likely to result.

Resilience is an attribute that we need to strengthen in our communities urgently. One of the things that always make city people wonder about little country communities is their indomitable resilience in the face of flood, drought and fire. It is born of intimate relationships, shared history, genuine reliance on one-another and, at best, it provides a safety net to members of that population.

If someone dies, support embraces the surviving family; casseroles (do they still exist?) are dispatched, support is offered by way sleep-overs for children, the holding of hands, the wiping of tears. Ways to help are thought of and applied sensitively and practically.

If a family is doing it tough, again, support both psychologically and resourcefully is sensitively offered. A spare-time job offer, pool season tickets for a family and/or school fees anonymously paid.

When the entire community takes a hit there is an 'all for one and one for all' camaraderie that provides foundation and emotional sustenance for taking stock and deciding on ‘next steps’. Of course there are cracks, you only have to look at the number of suicides and substance abuse programs run in regional Australia but at best, regional communities are flesh and blood fortresses of cooperation and care.

There will always be information that you’d prefer not to be known, and information you wish wasn’t true that you know and must act on; raised voices, bruised faces … but it all advises understanding and makes apparent that action needs to be taken.

Corona hasn’t hit the regions in Australia to the same extent as it has our cities, but the ramifications on our economy will be felt through and through, and unfortunately many of our regional areas still haven’t stabilised – some still reeling – from recent environmental disasters, with Chinese bans on beef and barley potentially causing even more duress.

It is impossible not to know your neighbour in the country and knowing your neighbour comes with a duty of care. Country folks have taken so many punches over the last decade they are (in general) far more emotionally equipped and ready to use their communities for support and assistance.


City-siders take note and know thy neighbour if you don’t already. There are many great communities in our cities but in a post-covid world there will need to be many more.

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