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We’ve Come a Long Way

By Dr Marjorie O'Neill, Member for Coogee on October 5, 2021 in People

The future is here. Photo: Ed Yukayshan

While we have been in lockdown experiencing something akin to Groundhog Day, waiting each morning with bated breath to hear the latest figures and receive our instructions, spring has arrived! Despite our daily gloomy briefings and the many difficulties we face, these sunnier days are very welcome. As we all do what the health authorities ask of us and hopefully turn the corner to a safer and freer future, it is time to recognise and celebrate all that we have learnt and achieved over the past eighteen months.
We have witnessed a level of kindness and caring for each other probably only seen before during times of war; neighbours checking in on one another, messages from friends looking out for each other and enquiring about our well-being, a friendly nod from behind a mask and continued support for local businesses. Random acts of kindness are everywhere.
Our local community has come together to help those who are most in need, donating food to people they will never meet. There is not a day that goes by without someone approaching my office wanting to know how they can help those in need. This generosity and compassion is something we should all be proud of.
Creativity has also blossomed. There are gardeners and chefs everywhere these days. Parents and carers have mastered the fine art of juggling employment, domestic chores and home schooling. Many people have been able to continue their education remotely. Business and community meetings have occurred online, as well as medical consultations, religious services and even parties. Small businesses have innovated with new modes of operation including click and collect and home delivery. Recognition is also due to those who have lost much of their income but have managed to create more from less, as well as those in small or crowded dwellings who have discovered a space within a space.
Independence and adaptability are particularly evident in our school children, who have learnt to function in an environment very different from the one they were used to. They have been largely unable to physically access the structures, teachers and friends that previously defined their lives. For those completing their HSC, this challenge has been enormous, coupled with the absence of celebration and traditional rites of passage which they undoubtedly hoped for. I am sure that we all send them our very best wishes for the weeks ahead, along with our admiration for their strength and ability to remain happy and calm in these challenging times.
Recognition of the value of our frontline workers, as well as an understanding of who they are and how dependent we are upon them, has been a theme of recent months. Where would we be without our garbage collectors, public transport drivers and emergency services? Our phenomenal healthcare personnel have been worked to the bone. It has become ever more evident that the provision of quality health services requires a commensurate level of staffing. Our teachers have not only done an amazing job at pivoting to online learning, they have demonstrated an extraordinary level of commitment and innovation focussed on making distance learning enjoyable for our kids. Over the past few months, I have been welcomed into online classrooms, assisting with public speaking competitions, providing talks to students on the NSW political system and even competing in online cooking challenges!
The past months have been difficult for all of us, but for some it has been much worse. As we move through spring, I sincerely hope that life improves for everyone, and I will work to assist and support anyone in need. It is also important that we acknowledge those important aspects that have flourished in our community and ensure that our taxes are directed to supporting those services we most value.