Information about work, life and play in Regional Australia

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The importance of rocket

Photo: Rocket growing

Anybody who reads this blog on a regular basis will know that I love gardening. Yet I sometimes struggle to keep the garden going.

The reason for this is simple.

Like all of us, and especially those who live in metro areas as I do just at present, time is short. So my family likes me gardening, but only if I pick and present the results to them. That's fine, but i am busy too. So my vegetables die away.

This morning eldest, who is on a bit of a health kick, asked if we had rocket in the garden. I said no. We always used too, but I gave up because I was really the only one who picked and and ate the salad vegetables.

Now eldest daughter has offered to buy the seeds and seedlings if I will plant them. Boy, do I feel chuffed. I only need the smallest encouragement to launch back in.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Opportunities for the professions in Regional Australia - Introduction

Back in October 2006, I put up Practising Law in Regional Australia dealing with the opportunities open to those who wanted to practice law in Regional Australia. At the time, there were opportunities because so many new lawyers were opting to stay in the metro areas.

Two years later the position is just the same. Now the Law Society has put forward proposals to try to redress the situation by, for example, forgiving HECS debt. Legal Eagle alerted me to this in her post Bush lawyers. This includes a link through to the original newspaper story.

The reasons for the current shortage of lawyers in regional Australia as well as other professionals are quite complex, combining structural and cultural reasons. Discussions on the reasons, and I am no exception, generally focus on the nature of the problem. In doing so, we ignore a simple fact, the opportunities open to those who are prepared to move.

Given this, I thought that it was time that I revisited the opportunity side in a series of posts, setting out the reasons why the Regional Australia option is worth considering. I will add later posts to the end of this one as they are completed.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Will Owen's blog - an education in Australian Aboriginal art

Photo: Darby Jampijinpa Ross, "Ngapapkurlangu (Rainwater Dreaming)," 1989.

From time to time on this blog I have featured photos of Australian indigenous art from Will Owen's Aboriginal Art & Culture: an American eye.

I first really became aware of current indigenous art back in the 1970s when I used to browse through a small gallery in the Canberra suburb of Manuka. I was interested because Australian pre-history formed a key part of my honours degree at the University of New England.

Will has a particular focus on remote area art. His blog is a key resource for all those wishing to access this part of the Australian regional experience.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Australian rainfall projections - October to December 2008

The attached map from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology shows the rainfall outlook for the period October to December 2008.

With the exception of the south east corner, the projections are for above average rainfall across the continent.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Need for a new approach to regional development in Australia

I try to avoid overt campaigning or political comment on this blog because it risks detracting from the blog's primary purpose, the promotion of the joy and variety of life outside the metros. However, I now feel obliged to make an exception to this rule.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics population projections suggest a continued drift to the metros. At 30 June 2007, 64% of Australians lived in a capital city. By 2056 this proportion is projected to increase to 67%.

I think that this is absurd. We have many areas of Australia that can not only absorb new people, but need them.

The metro drift has deep historical roots. The process has always been reinforcing. To those that have shall be given.

We need to break this cycle. Yet our capacity to do so seems always limited, condemned to a bitsy, ad hoc approach.

Just at present the current global economic crisis has led to calls for new infrastructure spending, something that I support. However, there is a very real risk that this increased spend will end up dominated by metro needs.

This holds even where spend itself is outside metro areas. An example is coastal highways linking metro centres.

Most people who visit this blog come because they have particular information needs. This means that the number of repeat visitors (the type of people who usually comment) is small. Still, I would be very interested in ideas as to what might be done to turn things round.

I would be especially interested in ideas at local or regional level. What do you need to improve your local situation?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Charles Darwin University offer $2.3 million in scholarships boost elite engineering course

Scholarships valued at more than $100,000 each are on offer to build the infrastructure of the Northern Territory.

A new Bachelor of Engineering Co-operative degree program has been created by Charles Darwin University (CDU) to link with local and national industry, combining paid work with study. The Northern Territory Government Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DPI) is providing $2.3 million to fund up to 20 scholarship places on the new course. The scholarships are valued at up to $117,156 each, with recipients receiving a stipend of $15,000 for each full year of the four and a half year degree course. The remainder of the scholarship award – almost $50,000 for each student – is in the form of paid work placements with the DPI.

Chief Executive Officer of the DPI, Richard Hancock said students would gain practical knowledge and work experience on a range of infrastructure projects to build the Territory.

“These work experience placements will provide students with on-the-job skills and experience, and opportunities to develop close working relationships with professional engineers,” Mr Hancock said.

The scholarship program also will allow students to participate in relevant work placements in both the private and public sectors. CDU’s Head of School of Engineering and Information Technology, Professor Friso De Boer said the quality and structure of the Co-op degree would provide benefits to the NT by supplying more job-ready engineers to the workforce, while the scholarship program would attract and retain the best and the brightest in the Territory.

No application is required. Eligibility for the Co-op degree and DPI scholarships will be assessed on academic merit, with a minimum TER score of 85 for high-school leavers. Eligible candidates will be contacted directly.

Visit the CDU Scholarships website for further information.