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Campaign Cough

April 22, 2016

The sore throat that had been threatening to cause havoc over the last few days I've been at work still hadn't abated this morning, so I stayed in bed a while longer than planned and updated this blog with the goings on of recent days.

My niece was still keen to hit the hustings, so instead of chatting to people and shaking hands - thereby potentially spreading my germs, I figured we could put up some flyers on noticeboards and the like...



We scooted through to Yarrawonga - found ourselves running out of new ways to pose with "welcome to" signs without feeling silly, but still thinking that we should have something to show the good people who read this blog that we weren't just pretending we'd visited :P.

We couldn't find any noticeboards to utilise, but we were happy to see there was only 1 empty shop on the main street (it looked recently vacated). We grabbed some tasty treats from the Yarrawonga Bakery, vowed to return when the clock museum was open and then journeyed forth.

Katamatite was our next stop, we put up a flyer on the noticeboard at the post office, admired the Community Library (I'll have to make a donation next time I'm in town) and got breath tested by a particularly friendly Highway Patrol officer on our way out of town.

We soon arrived in Numurkah where we were again pleasantly surprised by the lack of empty shops. My niece was excited to see that St Joseph's school was founded by Mary MacKillop - she'd learnt about St Mary's work whilst covering Catholicism in her comparative religion classes last year and visited the Mary MacKillop museums in Melbourne and Penola.

We stopped in Wunghnu - one of my favourite towns - and decided they should build The Big Ewe to match Goulburn's Big Merino (Ram), then headed back to Euroa, bought pizza from Stacia’s Place and went home to watch more Kitchen Cabinet”.

Whilst we didn't get to chat to anyone today or hand out any of my new business cards, my sister and I did some pretty good policy work along the way.

One of my main ambitions is to boost the resilience of our young people and wider community and bringing investment and jobs into our towns, we've come up with a few ideas which may well work if we can get the funding and support.

The first is an idea we've discussed in the past, but strengthened today - if elected, I want to encourage Year 9 & 10 students to apply to do work experience in my electoral office. I'd be hoping to get those students with a C+ or B average in English and give them a bit of encouragement through the work.

I figure those getting higher marks don't need the nudge and those getting lower marks may not have the aptitude or interest, they have plenty to contribute - just in other ways. I was a C or C+ student and would have benefited from this idea.

If the student is with us for 1 week the first day could be spent shadowing the receptionist and covering their lunch break. The second could be spent in a 'media monitoring' role. Then the final 3 days could be spent reading and summarising a discussion paper from a think tank, peak body or government department on a subject they're interested in and developing an argument for or against the report's conclusion.

If the student was in the office for a second week, they could be asked to create a policy document in an area of their own choosing. If the proposal was sound I could take it to Canberra and seek feedback from the relevant Minister - perhaps one day it could be incorporated into law.

The second idea we had was a drug rehab facility that could take addicts through the detox process, have an adjoining addiction recovery centre and an assisted accommodation facility next door. If the facility was built in the right position, it could allow a cluster of towns in our electorate to become service towns for the facility, creating jobs and bringing money into Wedderburn/Inglewood/Serpentine, Nagambie/Euroa/Murchison or Tongala/Kyabram/Girgarre, whilst supporting addicts to become self-sufficient and to create support networks outside of those they used to take drugs with.

The third idea is an amalgamation of the second and of the new dementia nursing homes in Denmark, but for those with high level mental illness and frequent psychotic symptoms. The facility could again be in a semi-remote area and established towns would service it. It would have a 3 tiered system of high need - where patients would be closely supervised, medium need - where there would be more space and a lower staff to patient ratio, then a low need area that would function as a supported accommodation facility with semi-regular buses into town.

The facility would look and feel like a normal small town, allowing patients to transition from hospital to the community and back much easier and would be staffed - as our existing psychiatric wards are - by professionals trained in modern mental health care. 

For the second and third ideas there would be the initial construction jobs, then ongoing roles in security, maintenance and medical personnel. There may also be a need to upgrade the local police and ambulance facilities and ensure they were manned adequately. It would take a hefty investment from state and federal governments, but it would save money that would otherwise be spent on band aid measures without really helping anyone long term.

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