The Covid 19 pandemic has seen unprecedented relocation to regional north coast New South Wales.
Better-off people have been leaving the capital cities, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. For some "professionals", working from home, or working primarily from home, has become a very desirable option, and more workable.
In the destination areas, this has exacerbated an already overburdened housing and rental market for young people and working families.
Demand has outstripped supply for both rentals and for house-purchase, though new housing is are being built at an increasing pace to try and keep up with demand. In another odious development, investors have recognised an opportunity and bought up properties to rent them out.
For local workers in the service industries, mainly casual, seasonal, particularly tourism and hospitality, it’s now a harder struggle to make ends meet and to find affordable housing. Many towns on the coast and hinterland have become havens for the cashed-up.
Some towns whose haven reputation preceded Covid have seen their popularity skyrocket, driving the cost of living up. Some locations are going through a complete transformation, with "gentrification" changing their character completely and squeezing the older-settled population, resulting in even sharper social divisions.
Social media has exploded with people expressing anger and despair about having to meet the spiralling costs of living, or in some cases becoming homeless. Local government councils are adopting a very piecemeal response, some having neither strategy nor adequate funding. For decades, NSW state governments have steadily eroded public services and community social agencies, leaving those in need at the mercy of charitable and religious organisations.
As frustration and anger grow, it remains unclear what type of community campaigning may develop.
But campaigning will inevitably develop as more people become disenfranchised and disconnected from their communities and families. That opens opportunities for progressive political action.