Northsiders through COVID-19, and beyond!
There is no doubt that 2020 has been an extraordinary year so far. When the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, unprecedented restrictions were placed on the way we function and connect. Within the space of a few press conferences, we had to abandon the comfort of our daily rituals, stay inside and socially distance ourselves for the sake of public health and the greater good. As the Federal Member for Lilley and a patriotic Northsider, I could not be prouder of how our community rose to these challenges with altruistic hospitality and deep community spirit. We know that when a Northsider is doing it tough, there will always be a flurry of hands ready to help.
From the outset of COVID-19, my primary focus has been to protect the health and wellbeing of Northsiders; especially older residents who are particularly at risk if exposed. Thank you to the local workers who have gone above and beyond to keep us safe. Our health and aged care workers, cleaners, teachers, public transport workers, truck drivers, shop assistants, police and emergency service workers have risked their own health to look after others. To show my thanks, in March I shouted 70 aged care workers at Wesley Mission Queensland in Chermside a coffee from a local small business. Our aged care workers are doing a fantastic job keeping older residents safe and healthy, and they definitely deserved a quick break! Local community groups and churches have also continued to help the most vulnerable members of our community. Meals on Wheels in Sandgate, Geebung, Nudgee and Chermside have continued to deliver high-quality meals to Northside homes. A big shout out goes to Bridgeman Baptist Community Church who donated 70 pre-made meals to the Zillmere Community Centre over the Easter long weekend. Their generosity went a long way to help those who are struggling to get by.
Of course, navigating COVID-19 has not been without challenges. Information, guidance and advice have shifted regularly, sometimes daily. The rapidly changing landscape of social distancing rules left many confused. Since April 2020, my office has called 5000 Northsiders, including 2,500 people over the age of 85 and veterans, to check-in and see how they were adapting to social distancing rules. It was so heart-warming to hear stories of visits with grandkids facilitated through the safety of the front door fly screen, or neighbours dropping off groceries to doorsteps of those who couldn’t travel to the shops. Jean from Kedron told me about a café across the road from her house that left food and coffee on her doorstep every morning because she couldn’t leave her home.
Seeing how we have come together to take care of our neighbours from a social distance has affirmed how lucky we are to live on the Northside. It is because of the collective effort of our community that restrictions are gradually being lifted. As we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and look to the future, I turn to the lived experience of older Northsiders. After WWII, Australia emerged as a prosperous nation with strong economic growth. Today’s older Australians are the generation that rebuilt our country and shaped our society. Older Australians have shown aspiration not just for yourselves, but for a better life for your children. I share with you a commitment to be a good parent and a good ancestor.
The future is not just a vision of something imprecisely better than the present. Like the present, it too will be made of an unaccountable number of complex and interlocking details, and likely more global pandemics. Now is the time to prioritise the making of a better world for future generations. Our children and grandchildren deserve better than an economy that consigns them to a lifetime of low wages, job insecurity and unaffordable housing. If young people have to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 economic recovery, many will be forced to put off moving out of home or have to return to live with their parents, put off marriage and having their own families.
It is up to us to prepare for the future, to take action, and to set the course for future generations, now. We can’t leave this work undone, for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to pick up and fix.
This present time in history is the cornerstone the future is built on. Now is when we craft the world we want for our descendants, after COVID-19 and beyond.