The arrival of COVID-19 on Australian shores seemed like a cruel joke after a horror summer with bushfires dominating the news cycle.
It's easy to be pessimistic about what the future holds, but the incredible people who make up our regional communities give us reason to hope.
In this, our fourth edition of the Future Focus magazine, our contributors look at what makes regional communities so vibrant and resilient.
The magazine explores the role communities play in our lives, looking at the importance they play in the liveability of our towns, the jobs they generate and how regional Australians are leading the innovation that benefits our communities health, education and opportunities.
Former Australian of The Year's national Local Hero Vickie Jellie discusses how her award for her work with Peter's Project belongs to every single member of her community for helping her dream of improving treatment options for cancer patients in regional Victoria become a reality.
Grace Brennan created Buy From the Bush just under a year ago to benefit small businesses in drought affected Australia. The campaign's success surprised everyone and generated an additional $5 million in revenue in its first four months. They have now added the Stay in the Bush website which promotes boutique holidays in regional and remote Australia.
Small cheese distribution company Cheese Therapy were another business who stepped in to help out one of their suppliers who had lost all their summer trade due to the bushfires. Their initial idea to help a mate out took off with business exploding. Now the business employs 25 people and continues to support artisinal producers and dairy farmers.
The Communities issue is the fourth edition of the Future Focus magazine from leading independent media company ACM, publisher of this website.
ACM journalist Gemma Purves highlights some of the innovative health solutions that are nurtured through UNE's Smart Regions Incubator, creating opportunity for health care workers to advance their careers and develop new skills whilst remaining in regional and rural areas.
Meanwhile volunteers from the View Club, CWA and Rotary share some insights on how important the organisations have been in making newcomers feel welcome as well as creating new opportunities for participants and communities. ACM journalist Matt Crossman looks at how community sports clubs have continued to operate despite the ever-changing limits imposed by COVID-19.
Read earlier editions of the Future Focus magazine:
Look for the Future Focus magazine in print in August 27 editions of The Land, Queensland Country Life and Stock & Land and in August 28 editions of The Canberra Times, the Illawarra Mercury, Border Mail, Ballarat Courier, Bendigo Advertiser, Warrnambool Standard, Wagga Daily Advertiser, Launceston Examiner, Burnie Advocate, Northern Daily Leader, Central Western Daily, Dubbo Daily Liberal and Western Advocate.
To read more online, and join in the discussion, go to futurefocusproject.com.au.