How can I make a difference in my community?
Tree Changers and Sea Changers are often seeking a new community to contribute to and belong to, something that is not always a part of city living. They also want a better and healthier lifestyle for their kids. That’s where you can play your part.
It can be as simple as introducing yourself to a newcomer to welcome them to town and let them experience, first-hand, that famous NSW country hospitality. Could you introduce your kids to the new kids so they have someone to play with at school?
It might be a cliché but we all know that first impressions count!
What else could I do?
Other strategies that have been successful in rural towns include:
- Hold a social event, such as a dinner or BBQ, to welcome new health workers to town and invite community members that newly arrived residents would need to know e.g. the Mayor, health service manager, school principal, etc.
- Where families are initially moving into community-owned housing, ensure the house is ready, clean and welcoming.
- Provide a welcome basket of locally produced gourmet food such as cheese, jams, olive oils, local fruit and vegetables, etc. Invite local businesses to collaborate in assembling the basket.
- Give families information on local services, clubs, cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, sporting activities, events calendar, natural features to visit etc.
- Help families find leisure activities.
- Orient the family to local education opportunities including local schools, if applicable.
- Assist families to secure reliable babysitting/preschool options.
- Introduce partners and children to local interest groups.
- Assist partners to locate suitable paid work – if the partner can’t find work, they can feel isolated in the community and research has found this to be a major factor in health professionals not staying on.
- Make rural students completing a health-related placement in your town feel welcome – a good experience during a rural placement frequently results in the person returning to that town, once qualified.
- Provide a welcome to the town, including a tour, to potential recruits and to newly recruited health professionals and their families.
- Provide infrastructure assistance, e.g. enabling access to the internet where needed; computer and software upgrades; accommodation assistance. Some local councils have built or modified council buildings to become the town’s primary health clinic; some have a grant program that can assist with clinic set-up costs; and there are other examples of local councils providing incentives for the new workforce such as access to a car or subsidised rent for a set period.
- Invite the new recruit to local business gatherings such as the Chamber of Commerce or Council functions where the Mayor is present. These are events that bring together health and other professionals and can lead to fruitful personal and professional relationships.
When a town collaborates and works towards one goal, amazing things can be achieved! Remember, you are in competition with all the other rural towns in NSW and throughout Australia; make sure your town is the one that people want to move to and stay in because of its warm welcome, its thriving community and its viable health services.