VOICE FOR RURAL COMMUNITIES: Kate McBride on national television this week.

RURAL advocate Kate McBride took her passion for the country to national television this week, discussing immediate and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on young people on ABC’s Q&A.

Kate McBride, who calls Torlano Station, near Pooncarie home is known for wanting a better deal for rural Australia and equity in the management of water in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Speaking from Adelaide, where she has just completed her university studies, Kate commented on the notion put forward to the panel that some young people were being blamed for not following the strict lockdown restrictions.

“I think at times we see some young people making decisions that aren’t in the greatest interests of the rest of Australia, and we are to some extent getting tarred with the same brush,” Ms McBride said.

“But there are a lot of young people who understand that we need to protect our grandparents and our parents as well, and from what I have seen, young people are very considerate of what is going on and are listening.”

Ms McBride said there was a need for everyone to make compromises in daily lives at the moment.

“The reality is that we’re all having to compromise right now,” she said. “I’ve just finished uni, and I probably won’t be able to graduate like all my friends who have finished in the past have been able to.

“It’s not just young people that are having to compromise – it’s all of us. We’re all going through a hardship that no one has experienced before and we’re all being affected in different ways, whether you’re rural or from the city. I think we need to listen to how everyone is coping and how they’re struggling, because that’s what Australians do – we all come together when times are tough and understand how people are feeling.”

The topic moved to jobs for young people now and post COVID, with Ms McBride saying agriculture could provide a great opportunity for people.

“I was speaking to a bloke from Adelaide Uni today, and he said there are five to six jobs for every single Ag graduate at the moment, and I think agriculture can be a really important sector to try and get us out of this COVID issue when it comes to the economy,” she said.
Ms McBride also spoke of the difficulties being experienced by border communities in our region.

“You look at the amount of farmers that right now are out there kicking and screaming, trying to just get across the border and get their work done in these cross border communities, and also young people just trying to get to school,” she said. “These are issues people are facing and we’re just not being heard right now, and it’s amazing how it takes so much kicking and screaming for politicians to actually understand what’s going on.”

Host Hamish McDonald said that the panelists’ generation will spend much of their working lives paying back the massive debt built up during the coronavirus crisis.

“Their lifetime incomes may be shaped by this moment. They are also amongst the hardest hit right now, instead of making plans and dreaming big, many are stressed and anxious,” he said.