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16 September 2020

In the years to come when we reflect on the summer of 2019/20, the images of fear and helplessness that flash before our minds eye will diminish.

Feelings right now are still very raw, that’s natural, but what I’ve seen emerge from our days of dark orange skies, is love, compassion and authentic leadership from every corner of our community.

These are the images and feelings in our mind that will extinguish the hurt and pain many feel right now.

When I reflect on that community spirit, I see Mick and the Social Justice Advocates with their caravans, I see Christine and Danielle at the Cobargo Relief Centre, Veronica down the road at Quaama, Mick and Jenny at Go Fence Me, Vickie and the kids at Towamba Public School, Dos in his bandanna at Wyndham, and Lisa, Trace and John at South of Eden Bushfire Recovery.

The way our community has come together and strengthened the bonds that existed before makes us better now and in the future.

The Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Snowy Monaro, Snowy Valleys, Yass Valley and Queanbeyan-Palerang regions have always known what many people are rediscovering in 2020 – that life works better together.

The way this region has come together during this experience is a shining light for communities big and small.

The Australia we strive for starts at our front gate, the bonds that tie us as a nation start local.

We can all be proud of the contribution made to our local and national community.

The legacy that builds and makes us more resilient are the relationships that endure – the support networks ready to respond to the rise and fall of life.

One of my favourite examples of that is the way the mighty Wyndham Wedgies AFL Club has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of this summer.

Not seen since 1995, the Wedgies have made a return, empowered by the way the community came together and wanting to extend and deepen those connections.

We have had our challenges, none of this can be perfect, but the challenges are smaller and the solutions clearer when we face the future together.

Photo: With Dr Joe McGirr, NSW Independent Member for Wagga at the Batlow Recovery Forum in August.