The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Alternativ­e narrative


Wow, what an amazing response we had from last month’s column, where we challenged everyone to take a step back and look beyond the surface of what is often seen as the ‘behaviour’ of a child or ‘inaction’ of a parent to understand what might be going on behind the scenes.

This hit a chord with so many, for whom this is exactly how they feel daily – judged, exhausted, failed and disconnect­ed from their community.

The challenge was to catch yourself and reflect on instances when this is just how we react.

Even as the author of this column, I’d be lying to say I haven’t done this myself.

If you’ve taken the challenge and maybe become more aware of yourself, here is challenge number two: Tune into the conversati­ons around you.

The real ‘test’ is to take these conversati­ons we are exposed to daily and offer some probing questions.

Why do you think she was carrying on like that? Do you think there might be something else going on? How do you think it would make her mother feel when this happens? Did you offer a smile or tell her she was doing a good job?

Just a few simple questions such as this offered to others around us may open their minds to an alternativ­e narrative about others.

This state of empathy can have a real impact on individual­s and families.

We know that if parents feel more supported and less stressed, this leads to more positive parenting and a sense of hope — which in turn helps our children to thrive.

We all know that if children are thriving, our shops, towns, communitie­s and regions also prosper.

Many of us will have driven or visited our home towns during the Christmas break and for those who have been ‘home’, we can probably see first-hand the changes over time.

Some are fabulous and others, particular­ly population decline, are more notable.

Despite the size of a town or the physical number of residents, we all agree that every individual in these special places deserves the right to have equitable access to resources that support them to be the very best version of themselves.

While there is some way to go in achieving equitable service access for rural people, we can continue the legacy of what makes the Wimmera such a great place.

People are our richest asset and how we, as people of the Wimmera, choose to welcome, support and empathise with others will influence our future.

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