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Flood visits

Over the last few weeks Linda and I have travelled to communities across New South Wales and Queensland impacted by the floods.

We will keep visiting and calling in coming weeks and for the rest of our term.

The scale of the damage in places such as Lismore, Gympie, Coraki and Woodburn is striking.

So is the grief and heartbreak in the community.

It mirrors what we saw in Karratha after Cyclone Seroja or after the 2019-20 bushfires in communities such as Kangaroo Island, the Adelaide Hills, Mallacoota, Bairnsdale, Cobargo and Nymboida.

I mention those events to highlight the common characteristics that we’ve observed in how communities respond.

Each circumstance is unique but in the response we see common characteristics.

Adversity not only builds character, it reveals it. And we should not lose sight of what has been revealed.

Amidst the devastation and destruction, tragedy and grief Linda and I saw kindness and compassion. 

People cooking meals for others.

People showing up to help clear rubbish. 

People providing a shoulder to cry on asked a friendly word.

Who were these people?

They were neighbours and loved ones. 

They were members of the same community. They were also strangers. 

Some wore a uniform and had been tasked. Others just the shirt they arrived in.

All saw someone in need and stepped up to help in any way they could.

In responding, they didn’t see black or white, rich or poor, left or right or any other characteristic - they saw someone who needed help. And those they were helping didn’t see any identity other than a friendly face with a helping hand.

That is who we are. 

We are neighbours and we are part of the same community. We don’t always agree but - when the chips are down – none of that matters.

Our common values come to the fore. We’re compassionate. We’re hard working and determined. And we’ll do anything in our power to help those around us.

It is inspiring and makes me incredibly optimistic for the future.