by Ellie Searle 2nd Year Health Management Intern As a new entrant to the workforce I can’t deny the excitement I felt at the idea of working in the city. Waking up early to catch a train full of weary eyed workers on their way to Flinders Street Station solidified the fact that I had entered adulthood. While the grind of full-time work can no doubt lose its novelty, the excitement of being part of this bustling, buzzing vibe was a driving motivation while I was studying. However, as we come to the end of 2020, the year of unpredictability, I am still yet to catch a train into my CBD job. As the Victorian population has adopted a work from home culture it is fascinating to imagine the long-term influences this will have on our society. Working from home has provided Victorians with a break from morning commutes, congested roads and traffic jams. Many Victorians are now considering if there is a need to live in metropolitan Melbourne. Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has provided time to reflect on why we densely populate the ‘metropolitan’ areas, and if we could achieve a better standard of living away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Some people have gone beyond wondering and have made the great sea or tree changes. Bernard Salt calls them VESPAs- Virus Escapees Seeking Provincial Australia (Salt, 2020). Mainly young adults, they’re leaving the big city to find safety, affordability and a different, perhaps more relaxed, balanced lifestyle. As more people leave Melbourne, heading to regional or rural Victoria, we need to consider the flow on effects. As population numbers rise in more remote and regional areas, the need for additional amenities and services will rise alongside. It’s no secret that rural and regional organisations can have a harder time finding the right person for the job. However, new people bring new possibilities and diversity of talent found in those towns. So, if VESPA’s do decide to flee the city for regional towns what will happen to regional health services? Hospitals may need to extend their services and increase their capacity. As the population evolves so too will the health services. The Victorian 2020/21 Budget, released in November, committed $9 billion over the next four years to ensuring Victorian hospitals and local health services emerge from the pandemic in strength. Latrobe, Warrnambool and Geelong are just a few of the regional hospitals that will undergo redevelopment and system design under this budget. In 2018, Victoria committed $675 million to build ten community hospitals close to major growth areas. Philip Island, Torquay and Whittlesea are the regional areas set to benefit from this commitment. Additionally, in 2019, the Mildura and Northern Mallee Regional Service Plan began, engaging with the community to determine how to shape the health services. So, as Victoria continues to invest in our regional and rural communities and improves health services, moving away from metropolitan Melbourne has never been easier. COVID-19 and WFH may be pushing busy metro people to consider this option. The pandemic has given us the push to reimagine our lives. Technology and the proof that working from home is not only possible, it’s productive, gives us the opportunity to balance life and work. Government’s investment and priority to develop regional health services couldn’t have come at a better time. We’ll have the motivation, the technology and the support to grow regional and rural Victoria – creating a people centred society and a patient centred health system. Sources: Salt, B., 2020. Meet the VESPAs changing our nation. The Australian , [online] Available at: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/special-reports/on-your-bike-and-out-of-the-city/news-story/7cf3e59bd302ce47042e59921694058c [Accessed 28 August 2020]. Victorian Health and Human Services Building Authority. 2020. Mildura And Northern Mallee Regional Service Plan . [online] Available at: https://www.vhhsba.vic.gov.au/health/regional-facilities/mildura-and-northern-mallee-service-plan [Accessed 21 November 2020]. Victorian Health and Human Services Building Authority. 2020. Community Hospital Programs . [online] Available at: https://www.vhhsba.vic.gov.au/health/community-based-care/community-hospitals-program [Accessed 21 November 2020].