It’s been a crap week in Australia, especially Victoria where we live. Lots of things that I care about haven’t gone well. The ABC cuts, the number of people sick with COVID, the enormous numbers of job cuts announced.

It’s pretty depressing. Luckily, I work in Agriculture and in the region I know best, the season has started well. Generally, the number of job ads indicates that Ag has fared better during COVID than most other industries. Sadly though, there are regions and sectors within Australian Ag that the weather hasn’t been kind to. Politics and markets also continue to play havoc with our confidence.

At a local level, five councillors in the Shire of Campaspe voted not to proceed with a $3M enhancement of the Echuca Aquatic Reserve despite the State government funds being approved by Regional Development Victoria. These councillors were present at numerous planning sessions and signed off on this as a key priority for the region. Echuca is tourism and this is a tourism project. The aquatic reserve is the venue of the Riverboats Music festival. Thousands of visitors and locals love this festival. It’s my favourite weekend of the year. I can’t understand how this decision benefits our community.

I am particularly sad as Council asked me to support and lobby for this project on their behalf a few years ago, when I was on the Loddon Campaspe Regional Partnership. This was a volunteer role representing community needs to State Government. It was an enjoyable task and a way to give back to the community that raised me well. I passed on the message in good faith. Now, some two years later, those same five councillors, some who presented to the Regional Partnership Committee about the importance of this project have gone back on their word.

A $3M government grant is an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often. It’s like asking for a pony for Christmas, getting your siblings and Aunts and family friends to lobby your cause. Then when the pony arrives on Christmas day, the child says, “I don’t want it. I want a motorbike”. You can imagine the reaction from Santa. You can imagine the reaction from those who supported the cause. Do you think that child will get much of a hearing next time it writes to Santa or calls for support from the family friend?

What if though, after considering the fallout from saying no to the pony, that the said child gets on the front foot before the pony gets sent back to the stable. What if the child says “I am very grateful for the pony.” Perhaps it could all end well.

In stark contrast, has been the Buloke Shire campaign during COVID called #Bulokekindness. A social media campaign showing what kindness looks like in 2020. It might be teaching neighbours how to use zoom so, they can watch Sunday mass. It might be putting their bins out. It might be using your voice to speak up on behalf of those who don’t have a voice.

When I saw the Buloke Kindness campaign it lit a little spark of hope. My spark turned into a flame, when my cousin Tim post on Facebook that his beach house rental was available at cost price (66% discount) for folks looking for some reprieve from the COVID blues.

He is a kind soul from a kind family. His brother Matt “ran Rosanna” to support Police legacy a few weeks back in response to the Eastern freeway tragedy. They come from kind stock who also taught me the value of kindness. Their Nan, my Aunty Marg in her mid 90s is a very kind woman.

In the midst of COVID madness back in late March, a very wise friend said “Kate in times like these, kindness and compassion are all we’ve got”.

So, I’m going to try something for a week. Each day starting today, I will make a deliberate pledge to deliver an act of kindness to someone else and an act of kindness to myself.

To keep me accountable, I’ll post an update daily from Monday.

I do hope our Shire of Campaspe Councillors considers a kinder decision for our community and for the thousands of visitors we have each year looking for a kind place to spend a few days.

Stay safe. Farm well.