Shortlisted for the Higher Education Category of the 2020 Melbourne Writers Festival's storytelling competition 'Bold New World'.

Bold New World

By Anna Faciejew

Welcome to Melbourne 2030! It’s been 10 years since the pandemic that stopped the world and stuck a dagger into the heart of ever so livable and colourful Melbourne. What seemed an apocalyptic world full of fear, division and grief, is now a very distant memory that we hope will only be remembered as the beginning of great change.

Now let me take you for a walk, you are probably curious what the city looks like. Let’s walk down Elizabeth street, it is buzzing as always and is still full of both, new and old shops and restaurants offering the most delicious international snacks and meals. You probably look around and wonder what happened to all the homeless people that used to sleep rough on Melbourne’s streets. Well, the pandemic made us realise that having a home, access to food and everyday products is an absolutely basic right every human should have. The feeling of safety, privacy and warmth is not a luxury or a reward for any achievements but a fundamental concept that every person who comes to and leaves this world, should have access to.

Now let’s walk through some of those laneways. There are a lot of new trendy cafes you will love to see but you can also spot just as many all time favourites that remained from your times! Alright.. We can get a quick coffee, I know it is hard to walk past this smell. Let’s sit in! It is no longer possible to get a takeaway unless you bring your own cup. It is just one of many new initiatives that helped create a more sustainable city. We can also slow down for a minute and admire all the murals and little art pop ups from here. The city is still full of creative artists that make our streets more entertaining and colourful, and the community values them more than ever.

That coffee was amazing! Let’s get moving… Past Flinders station and onto the Princess bridge. If you look to the right, behind the restaurants on the waterfront, you can see 3 new modern buildings. This is Melbourne’s News Hub. After recognizing harmful effects of social media bubbles and spread of misinformation leading to hate and division, we have funded a number of community led initiatives starting independent news sources. They not only provide the city with well researched, independent and unbiased news but also offer thousands of career opportunities for people, including paid internships for youth. Allocating funds to expanding independent TV, newspapers and radio stations proved to be essential in competing with widespread, unverified social media newsflow. Achieving this helped us in creating a platform where the public can receive accurate information and create opinions on the particular subjects. This resulted in reducing extreme news sources spreading fear and hatred, and encouraging educated discussions about most pressing issues. Rather than blindly taking sides people now have to educate themselves and get a chance to know both sides of each story.

This initiative was the biggest contributor to Melbourne’s transformation. Separating news from politics helped us take radical steps in fighting climate change as it stopped being a political ideology of one party and became understood as a major concern for the whole human race. It also helped progress issues of poverty, equality, racism and many others.

Now have a look to the left, the MCG is still there, being a beating heart and soul of Australian sport. It continues to bring ecstatic euphoria to some fans and eternal misery to those whose teams are always targeted by widespread conspiracy and always suffering from unjustified umpiring decisions. You see some things will never change but I hope you can take some form of comfort from it.

Have a look at the top of the MCG. Can you see this flag waving right next to the Australian southern cross? This is an Aboriginal flag and you can spot more of them all around the city. This flag is free to use for Aboriginal communities, free to use for anyone who wants to celebrate the country’s first nation. After officially recognizing painful events of the past and bringing communities together in deciding on the best way forward we have started a number of new educational programs in schools, funded more wellbeing and support services and appointed many elders in roles where their knowledge and understanding of the culture can help us reconcile. The flag not only reminds us of Australia’s real history but now it also became a symbol of unity and part of the reconciliation process which is so incredibly important in moving into the future as a united country.

This brings us to the end of our walk, I hope you liked it!

Now let me tell you something. This is just a vision of what we could be. A vision that you, me and everyone that walks the streets of Melbourne, could make possible. Making it a reality would mean not letting the pandemic define us and not letting it exploit what’s the worst in us. It would require conscious decisions made every day by everyday people. It would require being kind, respectful, better educated and most importantly, actively pushing ourselves to introduce big and small changes in our everyday environment. This is the future I want for you, for me and for everyone that walks the streets of Melbourne. This is the future that would set up next generations for success and happiness and would allow them to build on solid grounds we have created. This is the future Melbourne deserves.