Today I acknowledge the resilience and strength of the people in my electorate of Jagajaga and the joy and relief we feel as stage 4 restrictions on our city ease this week. This has been such a difficult time, but we have got through it together. Today I want to focus on saying thank you to our community, because it is their efforts that have pulled us through.

To our local businesses: I know that this has been the toughest of tough times for you. I’m so pleased to see our retail and hospitality businesses opening their doors again. Thank you for wherever possible adapting and changing your business models during stage 4 restrictions. As we all bunkered down in our five-kilometre radius, you have been a big part of what has kept our community strong. I recognise there is still a long way to go for our businesses, and I assure you I will continue to fight for the support you need. For some, like our local travel agents, normal is still a very long way off. I recognise you need tailored, extra support, and I very much hope the Morrison government recognises that need as well.

To our healthcare workers, aged-care workers and disability care workers: you have been on the front line in every sense of the word. You’ve kept us safe and you have done this at a personal cost to you and your families and loved ones. To those at the Austin Hospital, the Repat, the ONJ Centre, the Mercy and the Warringal Private: thank you. To our community health services, Banyule Community Health and healthAbility: I know how much you’ve done to keep people safe, reaching out to some of our most vulnerable community members. To Himilo Community Connect, who’ve worked closely with Banyule Community Health to support our Somali community through this period: I know your work continues. Thank you.

To our schools, our kindergartens and our child-care centres: thank you. To all the students, teachers and parents, who made homeschooling possible: it’s been so tough, but your ability to adapt has been inspiring. I want to particularly recognise all the VCE students, the class of 2020, doing their exams now, after this most stressful year of their schooling in these most stressful of times: you should feel so proud of everything you are achieving. While I’ve been pleased to remain in contact with our schools online during this period, I can’t wait to be able to visit you in person again and to hear the success stories that I know will come after this year of adversity.

To our charities, our support agencies and our RSLs: I know you’ve all found ways to adapt and support your members through this crisis. Thank you. And to those who’ve gone out to work every day on the front line so that the rest of us could stay home safely—the people in our supermarkets, our cleaners, the people delivering food to our doors, the Australia Post workers, who we’ve all looked forward to delivering more and more parcels each day: you’ve kept us going. Thank you for all your work.

Throughout this crisis, I’ve run a community survey asking people in Jagajaga about their experiences of the pandemic and what they want to come next. I have received around 3½ thousand responses to that survey, and I think that strength of response shows how focused people are not just on what’s happening in our community at the moment but on the future they want us to build. The people of Jagajaga have been really clear with me in their responses about what they want to come next, what they’ve endured through this period and the community they want to build for us, coming out of this.

They’ve told me that their major priorities for what comes next are that we invest in our health systems so that we continue to support all those healthcare workers and those systems that have helped to keep us safe through this period. They’ve told me that it’s vital that we tackle climate change and that we create a renewable energy future—that we realise our promise of being a renewable energy superpower and that we focus on this as part of our recovery. They’ve also told me how important it is that we invest in education. They know that their kids’ future is going to look very different coming out of this pandemic, and that investing in education is going to be a vital way that we can support those who come next and make sure they have the skills to help us all build the future. They told me they want affordable child care. They want Australian manufacturing and support for our local businesses.

I’m here to say that I will be fighting for all of that. I will be fighting for our community to have a stronger future going forward. Through this period they have shown their resilience and their strength, and I again say thank you.

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