BALLARAT will lead Victoria in withstanding climate change thanks in part to its high level of education, according to a University of Adelaide report.
The report, which examines how country towns are adapting to climate change, also names Ballarat as the third least vulnerable place in Australia.
The Australia’s Country Towns 2050: What Will A Climate Adapted Settlement Pattern Look Like? puts Bendigo and Mt Macedon at second and third places.
Written by Professor Andrew Beer, Dr Selina Tually, Michael Kroehn and Julia Law, the report cites high levels of education and percentage of households with internet connection as some of the factors behind the resilience of towns like Ballarat.
University of Ballarat, School of Education and Arts Assistant Dean professor Barry Golding said the report was good news for the town.
“We are well placed to be a leader in terms of adapting to change,” Professor Golding said.
“It is well known that education is a very important part of the adaptation process – the better educated communities are, the more adaptable they are to change.”
That adaptability, he said, was more about being bottom up than top down.
“The report concludes that the community itself – not government intervention – is the asset which makes the community adaptable,” Professor Golding said.
“From my reading of the report, what the (most resilient communities) Toowoomba, Ballarat and Bendigo have in common is that they all have stand alone universities, and a strong TAFE and a history of education from the bottom up.
“Here in Ballarat, we have a long history of The Mechanics institute, School of Mines and the arts academy.”
The report notes the least vulnerable inland centres tend to be located close to the capitals.
On the bad side, the report finds that Australia’s country towns will be subject to a range of new pressures as a consequence of climate change. Some of the critical transitions include increased pressure on health services and infrastructure including roads and bridges.
Professor Golding said care had to be taken to maintain Ballarat’s top quality institutions.
“Rather than assuming everything is OK and running our institutions down, we need to acknowledge educationa is central in the life and history of Ballarat,” Professor Golding said.
“We mess with our infrastructure at our peril. If the opportunity to be educated in Ballarat is not there people will not live here and we will become more vulnerable,” he said.