THE state government's plan to attract and retain more teachers in country areas is a start - but it also runs the risk of monetising and simplifying a much broader issue.
Attracting skilled professionals to regional areas including the Wimmera - whether they are graduates or have experience - remains a challenge for many industries.
And there's no easy solution.
Sure, cash incentives might attract people to look, and think, differently about opportunities in our region - but that's only the first step in securing employment.
It doesn't mean the right people apply, and are hired, for the right jobs.
It also doesn't mean people will stay.
Retention might come in the professional rewards afforded to a successful candidate. The challenges and opportunities available to them might retain their interest for an extended period. It's well-known that people have exposure to greater opportunities and responsibility in regional areas earlier in their careers, with less competition, or less experience around them. That's a great grounding and can earn employers a great reputation for fostering development.
But the retention will come more so with the personal connections, and the lifestyle available, that will encourage a "newcomer" to stay.
How do we, as the residents and current custodians and advocates of the Wimmera, make people aware of the fantastic opportunities and lifestyle our region has to offer? Are we fully aware of them ourselves? How do we make people feel welcome, and at home? How can we ensure our towns continue to evolve as much as other modern regional centres, so we can be - and remain - attractive to new and existing residents?
It takes organisations such as Wimmera Development Association and councils, and advocates such as Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership or politicians, to provide leadership and solutions to these matters - and they do. But it also comes back to what individuals, community groups and businesses can do to help, support and welcome people so the Wimmera becomes their home.
Jessica Grimble, editor