Dr Rob Garbutt signs copies of his book.
Dr Rob Garbutt signs copies of his book. JENNY DOWELL

How is 'local' status gained

WHAT does it mean to feel, and be seen as, a “local”?

We may have a sense of belonging to a place, but that may not be seen by others as a right to claim local status. Does that mean we have to have been born in that place?

If not, how long do we have to live somewhere before we're considered to be a “local”?

A new book by Southern Cross University lecturer Rob Garbutt, wrestles with these ideas.

The Locals: Identity, Place and Belonging in Australia and Beyond was launched this week by Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell.

It's the first comprehensive survey of being a local in Australia, with a particular focus on the Northern Rivers. Dr Garbutt researched much of the material that informs the book, which began as his PhD thesis, from the pages of The Northern Star.

Cr Dowell said the book challenges what we mean by a sense of belonging.

“Being a local is distinct from being a blow-in,” she said.

“Many see people who've moved here from thecities, and even the hippies who came in the 70s, as blow-ins; yet they see themselves as locals.”

Dr Garbutt said he saw being a local as something people should be able to claim for themselves, if they care for a place and feel involved in a community.

“People develop a sense of belonging through doing things together, so maybe people new to a community can achieve the status of a local by becoming involved,” he said.



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