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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Changing perceptions of Canberra

Roundabouts and politicians; these boring and sterile stereotypes of Canberra are a constant – but, slowly, the narrative about the Nation’s Capital is changing.

One woman leading the charge is Marg Wade, owner of Canberra Secrets Personalised Tours, which was recognised as the Micro Business of the Year at the recent Canberra Women in Business awards.

The business has been running for about two and a half years, and started from Canberra Secrets – a great guide book whichMs Wade self-published.

“I resigned from a public service job to follow my passion,” she said. “I sold my car and bought an eight-seater vehicle; since then I’ve been showing people around Canberra.”

Ms Wade said she tailors the tours according to her clients’ interests and tries to include and collaborate with others within the tourism industry.

“It’s really about promoting the wider picture of what’s here in Canberra,” she said, and the response is overwhelmingly positive. “Every tour that I’ve done has ended in a really warm response to Canberra.”

A group of University of Canberra students in the Faculty of Arts and Design have also shown their support for the Territory, creating a social media campaign to promote Canberra as a place to live, work and visit as part of their studies.

The Digital Engagement and Analytics students have created the campaigns for Instagram as part of their Communication and Media degree, with the accounts including @cuisinesofcbr and @canberrainsider highlighting some of the best Canberra has to offer from food and arts to culture and business.

The students have been led by researcher Prue Robson, whose PhD focuses on the reputation of Canberra as a place to live, and ubiquitous ‘Canberra bashing’.

As part of her thesis, Ms Robson is researching why perceptions and stereotypes of Canberra exist and her findings have led to an assessment that combines developing social media skills and getting students on board as champions for Canberra.

The social media campaign is something that Ms Wade thinks “is sensational”.

“I think we are all in this together. The tired clichés of roundabouts and politicians will only change when you highlight fantastic things to see and do in Canberra,” she said.

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