Editorial

WEB_Emma King

Nobody lives their life in a vacuum. A person’s education helps determine their job prospects, which in turn can affect their wealth and health. The quality of local services and transport links directly to a person’s sense of wellbeing, just as the adequacy of local kindergartens and schools helps set a path for our children’s development.

The quality of local services and transport links directly to a person’s sense of wellbeing, just as the adequacy of local kindergartens and schools helps set a path for our children’s development. When you live in a community, everything affects everything else. We’re all connected.

This is also true when challenges emerge. We have many strong leaders across our sector, and it’s important to remember the role individuals play in contributing to strong communities. However, no one person can single-handedly rebuild after a natural disaster, combat violent or sexist attitudes, protect communities from crime or help a whole generation of young people battling social disengagement. We can only do this collectively.

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In this new-look edition of Insight, we explore what it means to build more cohesive and ‘resilient’ communities, the challenges this involves and the immense benefits that can accrue when we succeed.

With this understanding, a key policy question emerges. How do we strengthen and build resilience in local communities—not as an abstract pursuit but as a necessary precondition for health, happiness and social harmony?

In this new-look edition of Insight, we explore what it means to build more cohesive and ‘resilient’ communities, the challenges this involves and the immense benefits that can accrue when we succeed.

Victoria’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Liana Buchanan, analyses the flawed pursuit of “simplistic solutions” to complex issues like youth crime, and explains how stronger and more responsive community structures (along with a healthy dose of perspective) are the real keys to combatting youth crime.

We also visit Gippsland’s Latrobe Valley to see how the local community is recovering 1000 days after the destructive Hazelwood mine fire. This analysis now carries extra significance, with the impending closure of the Hazelwood Power Station set to further test the region’s strength, unity and sense of identity.

The real world effects of inadequate transport infrastructure in Victoria’s booming growth corridors are also explored firsthand by Sanjeev Choudhary of Epping’s Aurora Community Association. “Improving our transport options would help provide a general feeling of happiness and prosperity across the community,” he writes, drawing a direct link between public infrastructure, health and wellbeing.

The plight of single mothers torn between work and family responsibilities, and often struggling to make ends meet on low incomes and diminishing government support, is also explored in detail by Jenny Davidson.

These are all issues that generate a collective impact and demand a community response. Federal, state and local governments each have a critical role to play to ensure communities are strong and cohesive; setting the tone of discussions and providing funding and institutional support where appropriate. But real change will come when we all work together to build relationships, resilience and community cohesion in advance of inevitable challenges and tragedies.

In the spirit of working together, this edition of Insight also celebrates VCOSS’s 70th birthday. As an organisation, we’ve now been working with our partners and friends in the Victorian community sector since 1946. It’s an important milestone, but our long history and the many issues still facing Victorians remind us that much work remains to be done.

I would like to thank everybody who has contributed their expertise and personal stories to this edition of Insight. I hope you enjoy it.

Emma King
Chief Executive Officer
Victorian Council of Social Service
November 2016

 

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