The Bundaberg Now weekly podcast hears about the Bundaberg Jobs Commitment, #artsbundyathome, the history of Queen's Park, and reading for pleasure. Local news highlights include the official reopening of local tourism operators, humpback whale migration and the Harvest Hostel in Gin Gin.
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Here's the transcript of our weekly podcast for 18 June 2020. Please check against delivery.
Dana Maggacis 0:06
Hello and welcome to the weekly Bundaberg now podcast. I'm Dana Maggacis from Bundaberg Regional Council. In today's programme, we'll launch into the third instalment of our interview with Paul Cochrane about his podcast series on the Childers Backpacker Hostel Fire, 20 years ago. We'll also learn about the Bundaberg Jobs Commitment, #artsbundyathome, the history of Queens Park and reading for pleasure.
But first, here's Michael Gorey with the news headlines.
Michael Gorey 0:37
Thank you, Dana. Last weekend saw the official opening of many Bundaberg Region tourism operators and Visitor Information centres. Bundaberg tourism Chief Executive Katherine Reid said it was a busy weekend.
Katherine Reid 0:50
Across the first 72 hours of reopening the three Visitor Information centres, we welcomed over 210 guests through our doors and responded to more than 50 phone calls and emails as visitors flocked in from around the state. While it was predominantly southeast Queenslanders, who made the short trek north, the Bundaberg Tourism team also fielded calls and social media inquiries and comments from across the nation.
Michael Gorey 1:20
Humpback whales have started swimming through Bundaberg Region waters on their annual migration. The team at Lady Musgrave Experience are preparing for another amazing year with whale watching tours starting on the 5 of July. While watchers are welcome of course but the state government says boaties and recreational water users should not get too close otherwise they risk penalties or injury. Gin Gin's newest enterprise The Harvest Hostel will welcome its first guests on Tuesday. The hostel will cater mainly to the backpacker market, which provides essential labour to local farms. The $2 million facility began accepting bookings this week and has capacity for up to 144 guests. Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey says the hostel will boost the Gin Gin economy.
Jack Dempsey 2:09
The accommodation capacity of the hospital will benefit local traders right across the Gin Gin area. It's a major step forward and providing essential infrastructure for backpackers who are critical in supporting local farming enterprises.
Michael Gorey 2:23
For more local news, visit bundabergnow.com.
Dana Maggacis 2:26
We're joined again this week by Paul Cochrane, a former local journalist who covered the Childers Backpacker Hostel Fire 20 years ago, and has produced a podcast series to tell the full story. Paul, we've talked about what prompted you to produce the series but how did you go about interviewing people from all over the world?
Paul Cochrane 2:45
Yeah, it was challenging to get access to people I guess. What I did find was people were very guarded, very private, about Childers and rightly so and to a large extent, I was and the people in the similar line of work to me were very guarded about their lived experience with Childers as well. It's a deeply a story which impacted us all very deeply and it still sits with us. So, look, initially it was a thought and it probably, this project has ended up being far grander and far bigger than probably I initially envisaged. But I think it's landed at a point where, where it was warranted. We in the media game we talk about, give it what it deserves, and I think 18 episodes of a podcast is what this deserves. And that really continued to evolve as more people were prepared to tell their story.
Obviously social media, which didn't exist back then, exists now and there's the opportunity to reach out to people. A lot of people have actually got in touch with me since the podcast has come out who actually didn't reply at the time, and acknowledge that they received the messages but just couldn't bring themselves to open that door on that chapter in their life. And that's their prerogative and it's their story to tell at their own, you know, their own pace, but they feel like the podcast had actually lift some of the weight off their shoulders. But the people who did participate, I had to build I really had to earn some trust with them and develop a rapport. But what I found was having been there myself at least some credibility with those people who participated, and they understood that I understood what they were going through. And that was important, because it was a horrific ordeal.
So reaching out to people, there's a lot of phone conversations, you know, for example David O'Keefe – who's the brother of Julie O'Keefe, the young lady from Ireland who lost her life in the fire – David and I, before we even sat down and did anything around doing an interview for this project, we went and had a lot of beers one night, just in a pub, just to get to know each other. And so he could feel very comfortable with me. And I felt that was really important. And you know, as a result of that, we've become friends, and, you know, we keep in touch. And I think it was around my own integrity and my credibility and earning the trust of people. And I never once took that for granted.
I'm extremely humbled and feel very fortunate that these people have felt like they were comfortable to open up to me for this project and tell their story, because it's a very personal story that obviously needed to be told. But, you know, some of the backpackers have said to me, you know, since their story was told, they've actually felt like this giant weight is off their shoulders for the first time in 20 years. And that is, that is really beautiful to hear. And it's, you know, it's something I'm very proud of, actually.
Dana Maggacis 5:53
Thanks, Paul. Join us again next week for the final instalment of our interview with Paul.
I'm now joined by Ben Artup, the Executive Director of Strategic Projects and Economic Development here at Council, who's going to share with us about the Bundaberg Jobs Commitment. So Ben, what can you tell me about this great initiative?
Ben Artup 6:11
Well, the Bundaberg Jobs Commitment is really about how we as a community to tackle the the age old problem we've had had in Bundaberg around youth unemployment. We have one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Australia and the Bundaberg Job Commitment is specifically about addressing that issue in our community. There's a perception that our high unemployment rate is caused by a lack of jobs or lack of opportunities to training facilities. But in fact, if you look at Bundaberg, we have thousands of unfilled job vacancies right now in those entry level positions and we have great education and training facilities.
When you look at it, our challenge around youth unemployment is caused by complex social and economic factors that have left many of our youth completely disengaged from education, work and future opportunities. So we in Bundaberg, we have 32% of young people below the age of 15 don't have a parent going to work. At the moment we have about 10,000 Bundaberg residents that we would call disengaged and they're residents that aren't employed, they're not actively seeking work they're not in education, they're not carers, they're not in any other cohort where they're actively participating in a community. So they're like, they're idle. Of that 10,000, about three and a half thousand are youth age, so they're youth between the ages of 15 and 24. And this is specifically the cohort that we're trying to attack with the Bundaberg Jobs Commitment. It's around getting that cohort of three and a half thousand young people engaged in life in the community.
So that's the problem we're addressing, and the solution really is actually not that complicated – when you think about how do we address this issue of young people being disengaged, it's really not a lack of jobs. It's about engagement with youth and Bundaberg Jobs Commitment is looking at how do we engage youth early on at the right times. What the research shows us from around the world is that the best way to do that to get young people engaged is through employer led opportunities. So the research shows that if you can get a young person in that age group, a small number of positive exposures with an employer, at the right time in the right setting, that their chances of going on and being employed and having them being engaged and living a life of employment and education increased by about 90%. The number that is often cited in the literature is four positive exposures in a young person's life. And if they can get those positive exposures within the right time, the right sitting, with the right person, that the chances of them being disengaged drop off dramatically. The result is that we bring down youth unemployment.
So how it came about was, I guess, through a range of conversations across our community, with schools, with young people and businesses, particularly, who told us that we need to solve this problem and we have the resources in our community to solve the problem existing, we just need to think of new ways and new approaches to it to address it. We spoke to hundreds of employers in the last year or so, and we said ‘would you be keen to sort of engage a young person, not just work experience, but a whole range of other opportunities to engage young people?' No business in our community said that they wouldn't be keen to help, but it had to be easy for them, and it had to be effective.
What we've done already is we've been out to close to 50 businesses that have already signed up and pledged in writing that they will commit some time in whatever capacity they can to engage young people in our community, and give them those experiences that they need.
Dana Maggacis 9:31
Thanks, Ben, for that great insight into such an invaluable project in our region.
Now, here's Robert McLellan from Bundaberg Regional Art Galleries to tell us about #artsbundyathome.
Robert McLellan 9:42
The#artsbundyathome initiative is focused around promoting online arts and cultural events and sessions all in one place. We're hoping to connect the Bundaberg Region's arts community, encouraging opportunities for artists employment, and to work together as a community to plan for recovery after the pandemic restrictions are fully lifted.
There are a range of opportunities for artists being promoted through Arts Bundaberg, but I want to particularly focus on our series of free webinars that we're developing. They're called the ‘Ideas and Conversations Series'. So industry leaders around the country, and locally will provide sessions to support community with ideas and strategies for personal and also industry recovery. Our topics are going to include the art of positivity, industry crisis to recovery, and also business thinking. So we will also be hosting a live community panel at the end of the series to ground these broader conversations back to our region, and to understand how we can embed these recovery methods to best support our local arts industry here in Bundaberg.
As I said before, there are a range of paid opportunities for artists including recording new music, running online workshops or performances, and also artists residencies at home. The expression of interest for these close on Thursday the 25th of June and the idea is that it is a quick turnaround. So the application and assessment process will happen all within a few weeks.
So get online today at artsbundaberg.com.au and check it out out arts #artsbundyathome campaign. You'll find a direct link to this on our homepage. Thanks for listening.
Dana Maggacis 11:45
Thank you Robert, for walking us through the opportunities available for the arts community.
Now I'll hand over to Carl Moller and Rebecca Blakemore who will share with us the history of Queens Park.
Carl Moller 11:54
My name is Carl Moller and I'm the coordinator of botanic and arboriculture services with Bundaberg Regional Council.
Rebecca Blakemore 12:01
Carl, where can people find Queens Park and how can they access it?
Carl Moller 12:05
Queens Park is right behind the Bundaberg Base Hospital. You can get to Queens Park from Hope Street or from next to the Talon Bridge right along the river.
Rebecca Blakemore 12:15
What do you think makes this park so popular?
Carl Moller 12:17
I think this park is so popular because it's got beautiful views, you can stand right next to the Burnett River and look out over the water. It's a very popular place for people to go fishing. There's lots of shade, so in summer it's a great place to keep cool. And there's some really good facilities here. There's seats, picnic tables, a swing, and it's a popular place for people to go running. There's a park run held here quite regularly.
Rebecca Blakemore 12:17
Why is it called Queens Park?
Carl Moller 12:46
Well, a lot of towns and cities in Australia have a Queens Park. It's actually named after Queen Victoria, who reigned the British Empire for 63 years from 1837 right through to 1901. That was before Australia became officially a Commonwealth. So we were a colony, a colony of Queens and a colony of New South Wales. So it was really big deal for people back then to honour the queen in this way and that's why they named it Queens Park.
Rebecca Blakemore 13:18
Now we're surrounded by lots of big beautiful trees – are all of them native?
Carl Moller 13:23
The majority of trees in this park are all native, they definitely are. And on top of that, most of the trees are the original trees that were growing in this area before settlement. So Bundaberg was surrounded by a rainforest called Woongarra Scrub. And we've got over 200 different kinds of trees – rainforest trees mostly – in this park. Some of them are very, very old, there's one tree here called ivory wood, which I think is at least 300 years old. And there's some very big Moreton Bay Figs which would have to be at least over 200 years old. So yes, there's certainly lovely beautiful trees in this park.
Rebecca Blakemore 14:00
I understand that Queens Park is on the local heritage register. What can you tell us about its history?
Carl Moller 14:06
Well Queens Park's got a very interesting history. Bundaberg was created in 1860. And very early on in the formation of the town, people wanted to set aside a Botanical Garden. So Queens Park is sometimes referred to as the old gardens, the old Botanical Gardens. And back then if we look at some newspaper articles from the time, we can see where people wanted to have to leave the scrub intact without destroying the numerous pretty trees and vines, which formed this handsome clump of indigenous vegetation that's a quote directly from a newspaper article in the 1880s.
So the reason it's on the heritage register is that it really is part of Bundaberg's history. Back then, people were saying that they wanted to make one of the prettiest parks in the colony, when we were still a colony of Queensland, and the Mayor at the time was praised for watching over and supervising the establishment of Queens Park. One person wrote in 1895 that the Mayor would seem determined to give lungs to our town again. So it's a very important part of Bundaberg's history.
Rebecca Blakemore 15:11
What does the future hold for Queens Park?
Carl Moller 15:14
Well in the future we need to plant a lot of trees in the park because in the 2013 flood, the damage was caused to a lot of the older trees. The trees are getting quite old anyway, so as the trees die, we need to replace them. And the other thing we're doing in this park is people love to come here and park the car underneath the trees we need to make sure that they're healthy, so that limbs don't drop on top of people's cars and cause damage. So we are putting some bollards around some of the trees and a lot of mulch just to look after the trees health and make sure that people don't have any problems with fallen branches.
Rebecca Blakemore 15:53
Thanks Carl, it's been great learning about Queens Park with you.
Carl Moller 15:56
Thank you very much.
Dana Maggacis 16:00
Thanks, Carl and Rebecca. What a fascinating look into the history of such a wonderful place. Now, I'm joined by Jaala Beauchamp, the Youth Services Librarian with Bundaberg Regional Libraries. Jaala, you're talking to us about reading for pleasure. What does that mean?
Jaala Beauchamp 16:15
Stephen King once said that books are a uniquely portable magic. This to me is so true. In all areas of my life, I find books to be wonderful, and magic, and I've seen the magic that it can bring to people's lives. So today I'm going to be talking about the different forms that reading for pleasure may take. You may be thinking, yes, I definitely read for pleasure and I know how I read for pleasure, or you might be thinking, I don't read for pleasure, I wouldn't choose to read for fun at all, ever, in my life! But you may resonate with one of these different forms, so I will delve into them a little bit for you.
The first one is play or immersive pleasure, and this is something that is very true to me. I love when a book picks me up at the beginning and spits me out the other end. It's that escapism, that ability to leave your reality for a little bit in a fun way and delve into somebody else's reality for a bit.
The other one is intellectual pleasure. So intellectual pleasure is when a reader engages in figuring out what things mean or how they have come about and why, it's really those issues or that ideas that you want to explore that a little bit deeper.
There's reading for social pleasure. So it's when a reader really wants to relate to authors or characters or other readers by exploring that character's identity and the pleasure that develops from the capacity to experience the world from other perspectives.
There's reading for work pleasure yes, that's actually a thing! So it's when you're reading to upskill, to delve into that understanding or find a new tool on how to function in that workplace, or skill up in a certain form or function for your workplace.
Then there's the inner work pleasure. So that's the last form that reading pleasure can take (and this is not in any order, this just happens to be last on the list). So inner work pleasure is about when the reader is really wanting to explore their themselves really. So it's about looking at deeper connection, looking at striving to be something more or the best version of yourself, it's that sort of immersive reading that happens.
Really, reading for pleasure is something that should be considered a valuable part of our week, our days – ideally our days – but our week if we're super busy, because it's not just kids that benefit from reading regularly. It's really at all stages of our life that we can find something new, something magical, and something that resonates with us, that gives us that opportunity to escape for a little bit. Whether that's intellectually escape, whether that's to socially escape, whether that's to escape deeper into yourself for a bit. It's all absolutely vital when it comes to building some of that skill, that language, that knowledge, in a way that's free and easy and accessible.
So I urge you, if you haven't read for pleasure lately, pick up a book. You might enjoy it.
Dana Maggacis 19:49
That's it for today. We hope you enjoyed today's programme and that you tune in next week for more news and stories from our wonderful Bundaberg Region. Bye for now.