I would like to take this opportunity on the last day of 2020 to acknowledge the year that just was.
Most of our hinterland villages and some of our coastal villages experienced catastrophic fires with the Clarence Valley being named in the top five NSW LGA’s worst impacted by the ‘Black Summer Fires’.
For many of our farmers in this same region this came on the back of years of drought and having to fight fires with empty dams.
Then the floods came, not once but twice this year.
Our farmers now having experienced the best and worst of growing conditions all in one year.
Then came the pandemic and while that may not have impacted many of us here in the Clarence Valley health wise what it did do though is impact us physically through the loss of jobs and having to be in lock down.
During these times we re-discovered the importance of family and home cooking and re thought how can we do things differently and do better for next time.
2020 will be remembered for many things which include the opening of the new Grafton Bridge and the new M1.
It will also be remembered for having the most events cancelled where we as a community gathered for the things we are passionate about.
On the back of these many events that have tested our resolve this year, it certainly has made our community stronger and more steadfast.
We have already grown as a community and been brought together to help each other.
I know many of you are still suffering trauma and dislocation from the fires and the pandemic and we have not forgotten you.
Our young school leavers of 2020 the world is still your oyster and you just need to remember only you can choose the path you want in life. The hardest thing for you is you have so many choices and they all begin with making a decision.
To our 3750 small businesses which includes our farmers you are our economic backbone and future prosperity. You do the heavy lifting of employment in our region and we salute you for your tenacity.
To the new people who have moved to our area, welcome. We have many traditions that will endear us to you and it won’t take you long for you to fit in and feel connected.
To our First Nations people the road has been long to regain recognition and there are many, many of us non Aboriginal people who respect and acknowledge you as our traditional owners and custodians of these lands.
To our teachers, nurses, police officers and rescue services this has been a year of extremes with no prior warning given of what was about to unfold. You were our front line of defence and you adapted and pivoted brilliantly making for a softer landing in 2021. THANK YOU for having our backs.
Finally to all those extraordinary people who continue to be standouts and that is our volunteers.
Everyday you go above and beyond to make this world and our community a better and safer place.
Many of you are caring and also put your body on the line for us so that we may be safe and comforted.
Words are not enough to convey our heartfelt thanks and gratitude for your selfless actions, thoughts and deeds.
It doesn’t matter what religious or political tribe we belong to here in the Clarence Valley it’s our community values that run so much deeper and are the constant threads that hold us together in these tough times.
As one of your nine elected Clarence Valley Councillors it is always a privilege and honour to amplify your voice and advocate on your behalf.
Best Wishes to you and your families for an amazing 2021.
CR Debrah Novak, Yamba