By Kay and Victoria Rollison
March 13, 2013
There is an in-joke in Adelaide that SA’s main exports are wine and university graduates. When the parents of twenty-somethings run into each other at the supermarket, they never ask ‘how are your children?’ They ask ‘where are your children?’ The answer is quite often Melbourne, Sydney or even London. It’s not that teenagers and young adults don’t enjoy living in Adelaide. It’s not that their parents don’t have plenty of space for them until they are ready to move out. It’s just that there are more jobs, and more exciting opportunities to be found elsewhere. Big companies are few and far between in Adelaide. Head offices are in Melbourne or Sydney. And yes, there is an element of ‘it’s a small town, get me out of here’, at play as well.
Kay’s three children all left Adelaide soon after graduating from university, part of the well-known ‘brain drain’ from south to east. One moved to Melbourne, where she will remain, with a better job than she could find in Adelaide and a Melbourne-born husband. Two moved to Sydney, but after eight years, moved back to Adelaide with interstate fiancés in tow. One of each couple had already found a job in Adelaide, which made the move possible, but it took some time and much anxiety before the other two found suitable jobs in their areas of expertise. Each couple was able to buy a family-sized house, unaffordable in Sydney. Their lifestyles are now more relaxed, their commutes shorter and overall they are all happily settling down in Adelaide. But will the next generation of Adelaidians be as lucky? Where will the jobs and houses be for them?
For there is one thing that the recent returnees have noticed about Adelaide: there is entrenched resistance to change. This is a major stumbling block to the development of the city – both economically and socially. It’s the attitude that ‘Adelaide is a great small city and I like it the way it is and always has been.’ But at the same time, Adelaidians want the city to provide them with jobs, theatres, cafes and nightlife. They see no contradiction between their peace and quiet and their lattes.
Victoria saw this attitude when talking to a friend of her own age about the Adelaide Oval. Historically a cricket ground, Adelaide Oval is being redeveloped by the State and Federal governments as the home of South Australia’s two AFL teams. It was the South Australian Cricket Association members – a representative sub-set of the old Adelaide establishment mindset – who were to decide by a vote requiring a 75% majority whether the redevelopment would take place. Victoria’s friend, a SACA member, was voting against the development proposal because it would mean more traffic in the adjacent suburb of North Adelaide. The friend also objected to the oval being changed, as it was ‘historic the way it was’. Victoria couldn’t help finding this opposition frustrating. The oval was not often used and attracted very few cricket fans. In winter it was essentially mothballed. She thought keeping Adelaide Oval the ‘same as it always was’ was only really going to benefit the very small number of people who had members’ tickets or those living comfortably in a traffic-free North Adelaide.
Thankfully, and somewhat surprisingly, the development was approved and the Adelaide Oval project has created hundreds of construction jobs at a time when the industry desperately needed them. Adelaide will soon have a world-class sports stadium which will also bring a flood of new business into the CBD’s shops, bars and restaurants throughout the football season. And of course the historic scoreboard and heritage grand stand will remain key features of the oval. Old and new can work perfectly well together. Read the rest of this entry »