STARTING 2021 with fresh hopes for the New Year, we thank those who made the past 12 months just that bit easier.
Since launching in October, the Pride of Australia – Thanks A Million campaign received nominations from around the country filled with praise and gratitude for people who made it their mission to help others.
From the frontline workers safeguarding our health, safety and education, and countless acts of kindness, the campaign – partnering News Corp Australia, Woolworths and Australia Post and supported by the National Australia Day Council – has enabled us to share heartwarming and inspiring stories.
Today’s liftout runs in our papers nationally, highlighting frontline heroes most deserving our thanks.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared January 26 a national day of thanks, calling on citizens to keep making their gratitude known.
Mr Morrison said the pandemic had forced us to realise the role played by every member of our community.
“COVID-19 has underlined the importance of those jobs we rely on every day – and deepened our gratitude for the incredibly committed Australians who do them,” he said.
“It has been a testing year for Australia, and it will take time to recover and emerge.
“However, I am confident we will – because I have seen our strength. I have also seen how we care for each other.
“And I know that Australians who have lost family, jobs or businesses will draw strength from the love, affection and support of their family, friends, neighbours and community.”
Harley Fuller is just one inspiring frontline hero brought to light by Thanks A Million.
The assistant store manager at Woolworths in Lake Cathie fought on two fronts over the past 12 months.
Defending homes in Black Summer as an RFS volunteer, Mr Fuller risked his life and was then called to help countless anxious customers in the aisles of his busy regional store.
“In all the negatives, out of fires, out of COVID, even out of the floods straight after the fires … the community has all come together, been through similar situations and we’ve all gotten stronger from it,” Mr Fuller said.
“What we do every day, whether it’s our job or whether it is the community support, it’s a choice. Helping people is a bonus out of the whole situation. For me, it’s just part of the choice we’ve made.”
Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, said it was because of people like Mr Fuller and countless others that the country has done so well in dealing with this deadly pandemic.
“While there will undoubtedly be economic impacts that are felt for some time yet, we have, to date, escaped the worst of the health impacts when compared to the rest of the world,” he said.
“To the police forces, emergency workers, doctors, nurses and carers. To the supermarket workers, delivery drivers and essential service providers. On behalf of all of our readers and all of our colleagues across Australia we would like to say thank you.”
NEW SOUTH WALES
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Rob Rogers said it had been inspiring to witness the outpouring of community spirit and willingness to help out during these trying times.
“As we reflect on the past year, we recognise it will be a difficult time for many,” Comm Rogers said. “So many experienced immense loss last season – including the families of our people who made the ultimate sacrifice, and the members of the community who lost loved ones, and those who lost their home.
“We have welcomed more than 8000 new volunteers into our service this past year, largely as a result of people wanting to help after last season. It is also worth recognising the remarkable level of support from the community, with more than $100 million of public donations being received.”
The year 2020 began as International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife and became one where these people were more valued than ever.
“Every nurse and midwife in NSW has contributed selflessly to tackle COVID-19 since it reached our shores,” NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association acting general secretary Judith Kiejda said.
“This Thank You Day, we recognise the (huge) sacrifices of nurses and midwives.”
Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union secretary Beth Mohle said nurses, midwives, aged care and health workers continued putting others’ wellbeing ahead of their own.
Ms Mohle said the QNMU and Queenslanders were extremely proud of this special workforce. She said their effort was the foundation of both a safe community and strong economy.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has again highlighted the expertise, strength and bravery of Queensland’s nurses, midwives, aged care staff and health workers,’’ Ms Mohle said.
“The QNMU applauds all Queenslanders who have stayed home, been tested and offered acts of kindness and words of support.”
Qld Teachers’ Union President Cresta Richardson said schools in the state remained open to support families of workers in critical industries and acknowledged parents who helped manage remote learning.
“Our teachers and school leaders as frontline workers have reinvented the way they work …(from) a new assessment and tertiary entrance system (to) children and adults adjusting to remote learning as required by the new COVID normal,” Ms Richardson said.
The Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said teachers, principals and support staff ensured went above and beyond despite grave challenges.
“The fact that they still managed to deliver a high-quality education to students all over Victoria during the pandemic shows how professional, dedicated and resilient they are,” Ms Peace said.
“All Victorians have a new level of respect and understanding of the value of teachers, principals and support staff in their role of educating our kids and we want to give a heartfelt thank you to all of you.”
Country Fire Authority chief officer Jason Heffernan said 2020 was exceptionally difficult year for all Victorians.
“CFA members faced one of the most challenging fire seasons in many years,” Mr Heffernan said.
“Our members went above and beyond in their mission to save lives and properties, particularly in East Gippsland and North East Victoria.
“From battling historic campaign fires, to dealing with the lingering effects of the drought on communities across the state; 2020 highlighted the dedication of our volunteers to Victoria and I would like to personally thank all our members who contributed to the challenges we faced.”
The South Australian Ambulance Service saw a sharp increase in demand for its services, as bushfires raged and the pandemic began.
“As a result of its dedicated and professional workforce, coupled with our emergency preparedness and management, SAAS met the demands of 2020,” COVID Incident Commander Chris Howie ASM said.
“Some of our people continued to save their communities even though they had been directly affected personally.
“The leadership team at SAAS is so proud of the way our people represented themselves and our service in 2020 and we thank them for their dedication to each other, our community and the state of South Australia.”
Schools in the state experienced immense pressure last year but have been fearless in coping with many new demands.
“Teachers, leaders and support staff have worked incredibly hard over the past year in challenging circumstances,” said Lara Golding, president of the SA branch of the Australian Education Union.
“They have gone above and beyond, supporting families in crisis and adapting teaching.”
Protecting our shores from the COVID-19 pandemic remains paramount to maintaining where we are today.
National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre executive director Professor Len Notaras said its Australian Medical Assistance Teams staff had been supporting the country’s COVID-19 response for a year.
“Our efforts commenced with supporting repatriated Australians from Wuhan on Christmas Island and progressed to assisting Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia and, since October 2020, the Australian Government in operating the AUSMAT-led Centre for National Resilience at Howard Springs in the Northern Territory,” he said.
“The staff who have worked to support the CNR have done so with compassion, resilience, professionalism, selflessness and good humour for long hours, in the challenging wet season, heat and conditions that are extreme, (including) full PPE in the humidity and rain,” he said.
St John Ambulance NT director of ambulance services Andrew Thomas said frontline workers continued to provide high-level care under ever-changing circumstances while maintaining COVID-safe practices.
“In a year that stretched people to their limits, St John NT employees and volunteers demonstrated incredible resilience and flexibility,” Mr Thomas said.
“We want to thank our ambulance service staff and the entire St John NT team for their tireless work and dedication throughout 2020. Say thanks to an ambo next time you see one.”
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said he was proud of the response of the Tasmanian community during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The thing that has made me most happy during the course of the year … has been the common humanity that I’ve witnessed right across our community, where Tasmanians, regardless of race, background, religion, they have held out their hand to other Tasmanians and they’ve helped each other,” Mr Gutwein said.
“I think that they recognised the seriousness of the challenges as a starting point and they’ve worked together to get on top of it.”
Emily Shepherd, secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmania, said frontline health workers had gone above and beyond to help protect their communities.
“Nurses, midwives and care workers have been on the frontline of the COVID-19 response and leading the treatment of those affected as well as helping to contain and prevent further outbreaks,” Ms Shepherd said.
“The changes to their practice have been enormous and at times incredibly fatiguing. However, their professionalism, skills and knowledge have supported their patients, clients and residents through this incredibly challenging time as well as the broader community.”
National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre executive director Professor Len Notaras thanked its Australian Medical Assistance Teams staff who had been supporting Australia’s COVID-19 response for a year.
There is still time to nominate someone deserving in the Thanks A Million competition – they will go in the running to win a $200 Woolworths Gift Card.
To nominate someone and say thanks, go to thanksamillion.net.au
Terms and conditions apply. For full terms and conditions, visit thanksamillion.net.au