04 August 2015

The saying goes, ‘a weekend well spent, brings a week of content’. I spent my weekend visiting the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, and it was brilliant. The Four Islands Festival was a fantastic showcase of an amazing location right on our doorstep. Meeting visitors from interstate and over seas, they were unanimous in their opinion of the local community and people. Collectively, they couldn’t understand or believe that anyone would be disparaging of them.

But we have all read or watched the negative stories about the Bay Islands. Yes, I acknowledge the issues the ‘Dropping of the Edge 2015’ reports highlights (BaysideBulletin, 29/07/15).

I don’t negate that these need addressing, but island residents are working hard to rid themselves of the stereotypes not of their own making, but from a legacy of buck passing and a ‘too hard basket’ mentality from all levels of government.

In my view this has created an unfair stigmatisation of the island locals. Great strides have been made in recent years in provision of services and I've seen more co-operation and effort to tackle issues than ever before. Of course there is much more to do and for my part I'll work hard to do my bit, but these issues should not define our Southern Moreton Bay Islands.

I have worked with Bay Island residents for many years, I have family connections there,indeed my Nana used to go to the dances on Russell Island in the 1930s! The one thing that is common amongst all the Bay Islands is a deep sense of community, this is manifest in the way people on the islands look out for each other, make visitors feel at home, and the sheer number of volunteers and organisations who give of their time, determined to make their community a better place to live.

The four Islands that make up the Southern Moreton Bay Island Group each have unique natural, cultural and community identities. It is displayed in the respect and reverence Islanders have of the islands natural values, their history and their cultural significance to the Quandamooka people. It is displayed in the way locals enjoy life on the islands with its vibrant art scene, environmental groups, sporting clubs and service organisations. At my numerous mobile offices and visits I have met many wonderful residents who are proud of their community and are working hard to dispel the negative connotations often associated with Island life.

Go and see and experience the islands for yourself, don't wait for next year’s Four Island Festival though, there is always something happening and there's so much to see and do, I reckon you'll be glad you did.