PAST and present Wimmera leaders have criticised a new statistical definition for smaller communities.
It comes after the Australian Bureau of Statistics downgraded the 'town' status of communities of fewer than 200 people.
Former long-time Wimmera mayor Darryl Argall who served seven terms as Hindmarsh Shire mayor said he was disturbed by anything that discriminated against small towns.
Mr Argall, a retired farmer who lives near Dimboola, used to live at Kiata and still counts himself as part of the Kiata community.
The 2011 Census calls Kiata a 'gazetted locality'.
The Census does not provide specific data for gazetted localities.
It is believed that privacy concerns were behind the change.
Mr Argall, who also served a term as mayor of the former Dimboola Shire, said smaller communities should not be discriminated against in any way, shape or form.
"Small country communities need the most support, because it is hard for them to keep sporting and other community groups alive and kicking," he said.
"These small farming communities are the ones who feed this nation.
"I would be very disturbed if governments were to squeeze money out of smaller communities because of this change."
Mr Argall questioned what benefit the change would have.
"If things ain't broke, don't fix them," he said.
"Why should the Australian Bureau of Statistics have a say?
"They should stay with numbers and leave the running of the world to other people."
Mr Argall said he wondered if some communities were going to be 'wiped off the map'.
"Lots of small farming communities would be affected," he said.
"It rings alarm bells."
Yarriambiack Shire councillor Helen Ballentine also a past mayor said she was uncertain what effect the change would have.
"There might be a concern in future, that if smaller communities applied for funding and the criteria specifically said a town was too small to get funding for a football ground for example, that would be very disheartening for that community," she said.
"People have a right to live where they want to live that is their identity.
"I certainly hope there are no negative consequences."
Cr Ballentine said country people rated their towns on what services they had not their population.
"Most smaller communities would have a shop, hotel and post office so they still think they are a town because they have those assets," she said.
"Lascelles has a hotel with a cafe and post office.
"So people living there would think they were a town, because they have their basic needs met."
Lascelles, in Cr Ballentine's Hopetoun ward, had a population of 114 at the 2006 Census.
The 2011 Census calls Lascelles a 'gazetted locality' and does not provide specific data for it.
People can visit www.abs.gov.au, click on 'Census' and enter their location under 'QuickStatsSearch' for Census data on their area.
Small towns spotlight on Dadswells Bridge, page 4.