Four Northern Rivers towns dropping off the edge, says report



CASINO, Bonalbo, Coraki and Woodenbong are named as disadvantaged areas in a report by University of NSW emeritus professor Tony Vinson.

The report, Dropping Off the Edge, was published yesterday and examined social indicators within 2141 post codes throughout Australia.

Bonalbo was just one town named as most disadvantaged along with Kempsey, Brewarrina, Lightning Ridge, Tingha and Windale, rating in the top 5 per cent of NSW post codes for domestic violence, prison and psychiatric admissions, and disability and sickness pensions.

Richmond Valley Council community projects officer Joanne Petrovic said some Northern Rivers towns may be seriously disadvantaged, but community leaders were proud of the work being done to help communities thrive.

"We have amazing leaders from all different areas and they don't let barriers created by Government agencies stop them from working with each other," she said.

"Casino and Coraki are towns that have struggled on all sorts of factors, and the challenge is to turn those weaknesses into strengths and to do that we need help from everyone: Government and members of the community.

"Our strengths are amazing community leaders from amongst our youth, Aboriginal community. as well as our business and welfare sectors.

"They are all committed and passionate in helping out the local community. They are patient and prepared to continue their work, even through setbacks.

"Changes in Government policies make it difficult and the trick is (for community members) not to turn on each other but to stand together and support each other," she said.

Ms Petrovic said within the Richmond Valley there were many community groups working to reengage people who had become lost to mainstream society and its services.

She said many community groups struggled with limited funding but did amazing work.

"What they deliver for that money is phenomenal," Ms Petrovic said.

"While (State and Federal governments) might pour money into these towns it's not being poured into early prevention and prevention services and it increases the deficit in the community over time."

Kyogle mayor Ernie Bennett said attracting industry and creating employment was vital to the success of a community.

He said timber plantations established throughout the Clarence Valley would be key to helping towns like Bonalbo and Woodenbong.

But, Mr Bennett said, it was important that council ensured that once the timber was ready to harvest three decades from now that value-adding processes take place within Kyogle shire.



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