Mr Deputy Speaker,
The challenges of 2020 have highlighted the painful fragility of our human existence and of our human structures and way of being.
The warning signs from our aged care system, from our increasingly causualised workforce, from our climate, from our land managers and emergency services were all there before but have been blown wide open in the last 12 months.
We must harness the fear and helplessness that comes with that and deliver solutions for our future – inspired by the community leadership that has also been such a part of 2020.
I rise to celebrate and acknowledge the contribution of two groups whose, empathy and can-do attitude has been a beacon for the values that take us forward.
Many will be familiar with the work of BlazeAid – since the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires this army of volunteers have restored fencing in paddocks whipped out by natural disaster.
This year, in the ‘Mighty Eden-Monaro’ we have played host to camps at Braidwood, Cobargo, Towamba, Bemboka, Tumbarumba, Adelong, and Bombala.
The Braidwood community farewelled BlazeAid last week. 454 people have pitched - providing assistance to 265 properties – an effort estimated to be worth $1.8 million.
The numbers are just as impressive at our other camps.
These volunteers come from all walks of life and from right around the world – 32 different countries were represented at Braidwood.
They have travelled to some of the most remote and isolated parts of Eden-Monaro to kick start our recovery and renewal.
On top of that their presence and interest alone gave such a lift to people during some of our hardest times.
Thank you – we will look to pay your contribution forward in the future.
Mr Deputy Speaker, as International Volunteers Day approaches ‘Turbans 4 Australia’ deserve special mention.
Turbans 4 Australia is a Sikh charity that helps anyone in need regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity.
This band of good hearts and hands based out of Queanbeyan made meals and food hampers for VISA holders left jobless and without government assistance in the darkest days of COVID-19.
They also travelled to the bushfire scared communities of Eden-Monaro to cook meals and share their brand of mateship.
And now with Christmas approaching they are organising a toy run for families in the Bega Valley.
Some of those who have benefited from the assistance offered by Turbans 4 Australia have returned to offer their own time and energy in the effort and extend a helping hand.
It’s a contribution that inspires my work and I hope the work of the wider community as we all look to make the experience of 2020 count in the future.