In this episode I had a brilliant chat with Julia Spicer, Founder of two regional businesses based in Goondiwindi, Qld – Engage & Create Consulting and the Goondiwindi Business Hub. Julia and I met recently at the QRRRWN conference where I did a workshop, but actually we know each other from way back when I was living in Roma. Julia’s mission is to contribute to the vibrancy and viability of rural and regional Australia by helping businesses grow so she was an obvious choice to interview for our ‘Spotlight on the Regions’ series.

In this episode Julia tells us about her background in regional Queensland, what sparked her interest Smart concepts and how they can provide real opportunities for small communities in regional areas. We discuss the concepts of resourcefulness and resilience as objectives for Smart Regions, how the social fabric of a small town can be a blessing and a curse, and why it’s so important for communities to have a sense of control over their own destiny. Julia shares a bit about the opportunities and challenges that face regional communities to do with leadership, integration, and narrow funding models that can limit the ability to solve problems quickly. We talk about supporting regional employment through drought, and the Townsville Flood Recovery Centre as a great example of effective integration of many different disciplines, industries, governments and community groups. We cover the need for digital connectivity and the divide that still exists between regional and metro areas in accessing it. Julia tells us about the emerging trend of women in agribusiness and their role in regional economic development, and she shares a quote about women changing the world but she can’t remember the author. It’s actually from the Dalai Lama at the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit, and the correct quote is that ‘The World will be saved by the Western Woman.’ So, keep an ear out for that. 

We finish our chat with Julia telling us about some of the projects she’s currently working on in her own regional community. As always we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it!

Listen here: 

What we covered in this episode:

  • Julia’s background in South West Queensland, and in environmental science and sustainable agriculture
  • Her passion for building a viable and vibrant rural and regional Australia, especially through business
  • What a Smart Community is to Julia
  • What sparked her interest in the Smart Community space and the real opportunities in regional areas and small communities 
  • How the social fabric of a small town can be a blessing and a curse
  • Resourcefulness and Resilience as a Smart Concepts in Regional Communities 
  • Why it’s so important for communities to have a sense of control over their destiny
  • The opportunities and challenges that face regional communities to do with leadership, integration and funding models that aren’t set up holistically
  • The importance of supporting regional employment through drought and other disasters
  • How the Townsville Flood Recovery Centre is a great example of effective integration across different disciplines, industries, governments and community groups
  • How Julia sees regional Australia currently embracing Smart Community concepts 
  • The need for digital connectivity in regional areas
  • The disadvantages of the digital divide between regional and metro areas
  • The emerging trends of women in agribusiness and the role of leadership in small communities
  • The importance of understanding the context of each different regional community and working within that
  • Projects Julia is currently working on within her own regional community

Quotes:

“One of the reasons why I love living in smaller communities is because we really have the opportunity to create our future, we really have the ability to say, ‘this is what the Goondiwindi community needs,’ and there’s enough of us here who are willing to do the work for that to happen. We don’t actually need permission from Federal, State or Local government or an industry group—we actually as a community can make the decisions and implement ourselves. That’s why I am as passionate as I am about rural communities.”

“It’s important for a community to feel that it has a sense of control of its destiny, where it feels that it is creating the future that it wants to be part of, rather than that future being given to them by an [outside] entity.”

“If we’re only continuing to literally put out fires, unfortunately, what can we do to start building that resilience, in rather than just having to bounce back all the time? Can we actually build some of that stuff in now, with with focus and energy and effort?” ~ Zoe

“There is some really great activity and work happening in rural and regional Australia. And partly because this country can’t afford financially or otherwise for all of us to live around the coastal band, [so] we want to make sure that we’ve got a really vibrant rural and regional Australia because there’s still so much opportunity in these parts of the world.”

“Over the next few years, I am looking forward to seeing how we talk more about the role that women play in regional economic development, and therefore what changes [there are] for the broader community as a result of us paying more attention to that.”

Links:

Goondiwindi Regional Council

Queensland Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network Conference

Townsville Community Recover Referral and Information Centres

Buy from the Bush Initiative 

Dalai Lama comments

Connect:

Find the full show notes at: www.mysmart.community 

Connect with Julia via email julia@engageandcreateconsulting.com.au 

Connect with Engage and Create Consulting on Facebook and Instagram @engageandcreate

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect with My Smart Community via LinkedIn or Twitter and watch on YouTube

Podcast Production by Perk Digital

My Smart Community

My Smart Community offers consulting and media services with a focus on making our communities more accessible, liveable and sustainable for all. We have a focus on Smart Mobility, Smart project management, Smart technology in regional communities, dealing with disruption and facilitating genuine collaboration. As well as podcast production, communication and media advisory and engagement, keynote speaking, moderating, master of ceremonies and workshop design and facilitation.

The Smart Community Podcast

The Smart Community Podcast is a hub where smart and exciting people from all around the world come to discuss all things Smart City, Smart Town, Smart Region - anything that makes a place more liveable. Together we can create our own Smart Communities.

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