Casting SA as a State of Hope

As South Australia faces many new challenges, a special publication, Griffith Review: State of Hope, examines how past strengths can be used to inspire renewal and revitalisation.

Flinders academics, alumni and students feature prominently in the new February 2017 Griffith Review 55: State of Hope, a collection of essays, stories, poems and photography covering a range of topics from the state’s economic outlook and key industry updates, to the value of art and culture to Adelaide and stories of South Australia’s diverse community and history.

The publication is a partnership between Griffith Review and Flinders University, and was edited by Flinders University’s Dr Patrick Allington and Griffith Review’s founding editor, Professor Julianne Schultz.

Flinders contributors include Professor John Spoehr, Strategic Professor Julian Meyrick, Dr Tully Barnett, Dr Alice Gorman, Dr Allington and present and past graduates.

Other writers, journalists, academics and musicians draw on a rich history of reform and innovation to outline possible futures for the state.

Professor Meyrick says the book’s essayists “make a plea, in different ways, for South Australians to take the long view”.

“In other words, we all need think harder about South Australia’s problems and prospects, the good and the bad, than the news cycle dictates,” Professor Meyrick says.

With nationalist politics, global capitalism and new technologies creating increasing uncertainty, Professor Meyrick says local cities and communities will need to start shaping the future.

“What states, and even cities, decide to do will have more importance in this fragmented world than at any time in the recent past.  It’s not just a question of brute power,” he says.

“People will look to states and cities to set the lead.  Certain states and cities will become examples of how life should be managed.”

From colonisation to the heady Don Dunstan era, South Australia has a proud history of progressive thinking.

It was the first Australian colony to allow separation of church and state; the first to give women universal suffrage; the first state to decriminalise homosexuality. It is a world leader in renewable energy, and South Australians proclaim dominance in the arts, viticulture and cuisine.

But as the state faces a severe jobs crisis – a function of the collapse in commodity prices, the end of a boom in engineering and construction projects, and the imminent closure of the automotive manufacturing industry – SA urgently needs a vision for the future.

Will its history of progressive thinking continue? What will the future hold?

Will it become the state of progress, science, innovation, world-class medical research and cutting-edge technologies? Will it become a nuclear waste dumping ground? Will submarines keep the economy afloat?

As the industrial model that shaped twentieth-century SA is replaced by an uncertain future, now more than ever the state needs to draw on the strengths of its past in order to move ahead.

SA has always demonstrated a willingness to challenge prevailing sentiments, experiment, boldly innovate and take a national lead – and as a result has produced a disproportionate number of leaders in business, science, the arts and public policy.  Now, on the cusp of change, the state needs to draw on its talent for experiment and innovation in order to thrive in an increasingly competitive world.

Griffith Review: State of Hope explores the economic, social, environmental and cultural challenges facing South Australia. Along the way the book also offers interesting insights about visionaries fighting passionately for their causes; forgotten founding fathers; revolutionary winemakers and football legends; energy crises and energy solutions; ghost states and ghost people; dispossession and renewal; olive trees and giant kangaroos.

Published with support from Flinders University and Arts SA, copies of Griffith Review 55: State of Hope are available for $27.99 RRP.

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