Opinion: A change in thinking, in young and old, required

By Olivia Duffey

The Deniliquin Show Society’s quest to bolster its ranks with members of the younger generation (‘Young blood plea’, Pastoral Times, Friday, January 10, page 3) is unfortunately not an isolated plea for help.

It’s not only other community groups in the local area that need help to ensure their events and initiatives survive, it’s happening all over the country.

There is a benefit to Deniliquin and district embracing its appeal to an ageing population, and the finalisation of the retirement living project being championed by Edward River Council can only help in that goal.

But the younger members of our community seem to be overlooked in a multitude of areas.

I fear that is one of the reasons we don’t have the youth available to assist groups like the Show Society.

Most of our youth seem to be taking on opportunities away from home.

And if we don’t find a solution to keeping them here, it will be our committees, businesses, service groups and charities that will suffer when there’s no-one there to replace outgoing members.

A primary reason for young people leaving the region is the pursuit of further education.

We may not have a university here, but there other other options for tertiary education that can be explored, improved and promoted.

Our TAFE campus offers a range of subjects, some of which are offered right here at home and others online through advancements in technology — and facilities at TAFE.

I for one find it a convenient way to do university while working full time in my dream job.

Communities will also benefit from an altered view in the way young people feel they can make a difference in their world.

While changing interests in new generations has fostered a global view on how the world should be, some seem to forget that you need to look to your own backyard before you can see the bigger picture.

Our youth have fresh new ideas and want to expand their reach, however they don’t all necessarily think about putting those ideas towards local causes.

Local youth need to put the fearlessness their generation is renowned for to good use, to take a courageous step and explore what is right here at home.

But they need the support of the entrenched volunteer base if they are to do so.

As a young person, I can see that a vast majority of our local committees are made up of older members of the community.

Their wisdom and knowledge aside, the age gap can cause anxiety for a young person considering infiltrating their ranks.

It is possible to turn this around, to get our youth to continue what the older generations have started — to keep our groups thriving, our volunteer base growing and our spirit and ideas expressed benefiting the local morale and boosting tourism at the same time.

My message to the older members of this community is to please make us, the youth, feel welcomed, listened to and validated. Offer us opportunities to explore our ideas and connect with you.

And to the youth, go out there and explore what you could do to make a difference in your community; try new things, be willing to learn from those who have forged the path for you to contribute to the community and be prepared to share the wisdom passed down to you.

Everyone, regardless of their age and ability, has a role to play in their community. Find the motivation to discover yours.