The southern Islands off the SE Queensland Coast have long been the ‘poor relation’ compared to the rest of Queensland and Australia.
SE Queensland has grown and prospered remarkably in the past 25 years; our cluster of islands has been largely ignored.
Whilst island populations have grown proportionately, when it comes to services and assistance that other Queensland towns and communities take for granted, the island community has literally ‘missed out’.
In the case of the Southern Bay Islands, including Coochiemudlo, we basically have been ignored. North Stradbroke Island has fared a little better.
The value of the islands as the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of SE Queensland has been totally overlooked.
The group of six islands, including North Stradbroke, collectively have a population in excess of 12,000 people.
Towns of a similar size in Queensland include Warwick, Emerald, Dalby and Bargara-Innes Park.
You can bet those towns have Government services that offer help and assistance for families, youth, disabilities, social infrastructure, housing and homelessness.
Not so here!
And were it not for an unfortunate incident that occurred on the islands a few months ago, we may have continued on our blind path of being ‘ignored’.
Fortunately, there are some people with considerable ability on our islands who have attempted to bring about change and have made some substantial contributions.
President of the Macleay Island Progress Association Charmaine Stubbs, who has a considerable corporate background with the Salvation Army, identified the core of the problem and recently called on interested island parties and groups to work together to make all levels of Government sit up and take notice, and do something about the lack of vital services that all communities throughout Australia expect and deserve.
Other island people in key areas have made a significant contribution, including Petrae McLean, Eleesa Zlatic, Glynis Enright and more (we apologise to any we may have not named). Areas of critical assistance have been identified.
The result is the Mental Health and Well Being Hub and a major round table Development Action Plan to be held at the Macleay Island Community Centre on Tuesday, September 25.
All areas of Government will be around the table and will include Federal Member for Bowman Andrew Laming, State Member for Redlands Kim Richards, Mayor of Redland City Council Karen Williams, and Division 5 Councillor Mark Edwards.
Basically, island strengths and weaknesses have been identified and the Development Action Plan will be about convincing all levels of Government (Federal, State and Local) that our islands are sick of being ignored and treated as the ‘poor relation’. Resources are urgently required (funding) to provide adequate community needs.
Areas that have been identified for assistance include children, youth and family; mental health and addiction; age friendly and disabilities; government and social infrastructure; economic development and social enterprise; housing and homelessness.
One would have thought the Bay Island Community Centres could have played a role in all this.
Apparently not. Some glaring examples of their lack of desire in providing services have already been identified and such organisations need to get on board, or get left behind and be disbanded, with the resources they take up, better utilised elsewhere.
The new initiative is not waiting around. They have already started a Getting Connected initiative that will see weekly activities happening for people who need to get active and meet new people. Good stuff indeed!
The entire exercise is a perfect example of the islands taking up the cudgels, identifying our shortcoming and doing something about it.
Let us hope all levels of Government do get behind this vital initiative.