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Australia Day is more than a public holiday – it’s the perfect opportunity to pause and reflect on what has made our nation successful, and the determination we have to overcome any challenges.

But what makes Australia such a great nation?

Other countries have beautiful environments, there are many other democracies in the world and we’re not the only nation that has brought together many different cultures in a largely harmonious society.

In my mind, it is the people of Australia that make us exceptional.

The past year has been a challenging one for our region with the devastating summer bushfires, followed by the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

I couldn’t be prouder of the way our region responded and we need to keep putting locals first, supporting one another, and building an even better Gippsland.

Throughout our nation we are blessed with millions of people who volunteer in a wide variety of organisations to serve their community.

Some of these people will be acknowledged with awards on Australia Day but they don’t serve their communities to seek recognition, and in any case, the award winners are only the tip of the iceberg.

So many Australians donate their own time to quietly and diligently support their community every day of the week.

On Australia Day we should thank them all and commit ourselves to keeping that tradition alive. It is a tradition based on mateship, helping others who need a hand, and the need to feel part of something bigger than our own lives.

If you’re not already a volunteer for a local organisation in Gippsland, why not make 2021 the year that you sign up to help make a difference in your community?

By volunteering to support a community or sporting organisation, you are making a statement that you care about the future of Gippsland, Victoria and Australia.

Finally, at a time when much of the political and media commentary focuses on what’s wrong with Australia we should try to count our blessings more often.

As we cast our eyes around the world and witness stories of the pandemic, death and destruction in other countries, we should be thankful for the largely safe and secure community we share.

That’s not to say there aren’t problems and things we would all like to change but as a nation, we are heading in the right direction.

By working together, we can address challenges like poverty, homelessness, indigenous disadvantage, family violence and any shortcomings in our government services.

We can all do our bit every day to make sure Australia remains the greatest nation in the world.

So this Australia Day, take the time to reflect, respect and celebrate our nation’s people, and all of their achievements.

Australians all let us rejoice, for we are one and free!


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