How communities can fight terrorism fears in regional Australian communities

IT IS unthinkable that anyone in our community could be subject to an act of terrorism.

The experience of terrorism in regional communities is generally isolated to reports from a world away in the media.

But that changed dramatically this week with the realisation that fears of home-grown terrorism were morphed from potential to possibility by raids across Sydney and Brisbane.

What was striking about this week's events was not the number of houses raided or charges laid, it was that it infused, and troubled, the minds of people who have never thought of terrorism activity being a legitimate threat to daily life in Australia.

Think about the freedoms we enjoy in Ballarat. Freedom of choice, freedom of travel, freedom of opinion.

These freedoms we enjoy as individuals but as one city.

If the Bali bombings were a modern day assault on our freedoms abroad, Thursday's anti-terrorism raids - described as the most significant ever seen on our shores - was a reincarnation of thought which shakes Australians to the core.

Thankfully, police believe the raids have assisted in averting an immediate, potentially sickening, attack on our innocence.

It has, however, reinforced the reality that the wave of an unsettled world has the potential to crash through our cities and towns.

It's unimaginable to to think that atrocious acts such as beheadings would be considered by anyone who calls Australia home. By anyone who would call Melbourne or Sydney home. By anyone calling Ballarat home.

The people who have been changed are Australian citizens.

The random nature of the alleged plots to perform such acts invokes the most fear. It's the knowledge that a person compelled to align with protestations of fanatics has the potential to strike at those whose crime is to live with freedom.

That's why as much as Thursday's actions were important, what happens next is more crucial.

This is no time to forget we are are nation which embraces inclusion. A nation which supports people of different race, creed and colour. The flexibility of choice which we hold so dear will extend to supporting those with common values but not those who rally extremism.

Our want and need to have our say will flow to defend our community and to convince those who rail in opposition that their cause is futile.

Australians will continue to come and go, home and abroad because we won't submit to emotional or physical blackmail.

The strength through of all of this is to hold fast to the very pillars of our community. Not to divide our communities into us and them or to put one person ahead of another.

This is exactly what the terrorists want to impact. Acts of mass deaths or a single beheading are perpetrated only to spread a destructive message. For the terrorists, those who die in the process are simply pawns in a much bigger communication war.

As one what we do as a people in staying true to our community values is the ultimate weapon in fighting these destructive forces.