Seymour and the Great Divide

Principle 8: Integrate rather than segregate

The first episode of the ABC's Two on the Great Divide included a look at Seymour - currently available for watching on iView (about 34 minutes in). It was exceedingly negative, portraying the town as Tim Flannery puts it, a "a warehousing suburb ... for people who can't afford housing in Melbourne".
After an interview with a young man from Avenel (not a local I'm told) they discuss teenage boredom when Flannery says "here it can lead to outcomes that are uniformly really bad", just as he passes our house (37:40 in to the footage - see Kombi in background). He later implies that the town is a ghetto of great disadvantage, not a very balanced view of the town by a renound scientist.
The 4 minutes of video time has created quite a stir in town, with extensive letters in the local papers and our state MP urging us to write and complain to the ABC. Even our local councillors are up in arms with our local representative and previous mayor Greame Coppel saying "In my view the report on Seymour was shallow, narrow, biased, ill informed and manipulative". It's really interesting to see passion and fire in the eyes of locals.
It's ironic that the footage was screened on that same weekend that the community came together to discuss the 'Bright Ideas' put on by The Seymour We Want. I'm told that the reason the group formed in the first place was because of a report in 1999 that portrayed Seymour as a town of great social disadvantage. That report led to a meeting at the Salvation Army Hall with people spilling out the doors.
It seems that this latest national criticism is bringing local people together in the same way.


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