We all know how special the Redlands Coast is. Our naturally wonderful environment, our friendly neighborhoods, our thriving industries, our award-winning schools and our rich First Nations history. But what makes us especially unique are our Southern Moreton Bay Islands and their communities.
The SMBIs and North Stradbroke Island are the only islands in this country in such close proximity to a capital city, yet experience ‘regional’ challenges.
Nowhere in this country is there a coastline of mainland communities with access to training, transport, health and aged care flanked by a cluster of islands with communities who have very limited access to these core services.
And while it seems distance shouldn’t be a barrier for our SMBIs given their proximity to Brisbane, nevertheless, it’s a distance that has amplified the challenges our SMBI communities face.
Our SMBIs have never been recognised by the state government as ‘regional’, and while they were recognised by the federal government this has recently changed, resulting in the SMBIs (and in fact, the whole of Redland City) being excluded from regional funding programs and much needed investment from both levels of government.
A statistically comparable ‘region’ on the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) that qualifies for regional grants and funding is Tara in the Western Downs of Queensland. Tara and the SMBIs both rank in the fourth percentile of the most disadvantaged regions in the country.
If you picked up Tara and dropped it into Moreton Bay, the result would actually be an improvement for our SMBIs. Tara is supported by a strong manufacturing industry that provides economic and social uplift and is supported with infrastructure and investment from industry and government.
What the SMBIs may lack in industry, it makes up for in its environment, tourism potential and growing population. More and more people are choosing to call the SMBIs home, with 7.8 years of dwelling growth occurring between 2020 and 2023.
We are calling on all levels of government to act as enablers and come together to improve these complex issues.
Access to health and aged care, training and employment and enabling infrastructure are the foundations for strong and thriving communities.
Our SMBI communities not only deserve these crucial services, they’re also imperative to the sustainable economic development of the entire Redlands Coast.