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Reflecting on 2020 as we move into 2021, a year we may never forget and in some ways, I hope it is a year we never forget – as surely nothing could be worse.

We started off the year as we have done for many, with drinks, far too many, here on this balcony. We did this while bushfires raged across Victoria and Australia however, we had no idea what was about to unfold.

On the 2nd on January, we entered our first State of Disaster, something, a year on we are still under. This declaration meant the following day, the Royal Australian Navy had ships off our coast evacuating residents of Mallacoota. While the navy ships have gone, we still have troops in Victoria, helping with the disasters we have encountered as the year has gone on.

While we began this year with hope, the world watched on as Australia burnt, killing millions of animals, and stretching across every state and territory of this country. This seems so long ago, a time before COVID, a time before the world stopped and people started dying by the thousands.

One month later, COVID was officially in Australia and, on the 2nd February, the Australian government closed our borders to inbound Chinese arrivals. 6 weeks later, our borders were closed and have remained so ever since, closing us off from the world.

We were told ‘STAYING APART, KEEPS US TOGETHER’ and more recently, ‘STAYING SAFE, KEEPS US OPEN’. These messages were part of our government’s response, to a pandemic we did not expect, had not planned for and, that kicked our ass.

We were locked down, told to stay home, lived under a curfew for several months and, we stayed apart. When we were allowed, we found ways to meet in parks, walking our dogs, having picnics and being creative in how we connected with each other. We formed bubbles, had mental health coaches, and looked forward to seeing each other in person.

We baked and cooked, sour dough was on point as the nation ran out of flour, we made slices, savory meals and more. We shared where we could and tried to keep everyone safe.

We did this while the nation ran out of meat, toilet paper was scarce, and fights broke out for every roll. Sanitizer was in short supply and quickly increased in price by 500%.

We relearned what an essential worker was, discovered bottle shops were essential services and had to deal with rationing in supermarkets. Despite this, the gluten free shelfs remained fully stocked, we were not that desperate!

Over one million Australians lost their jobs on one day alone, and three million were supported via government schemes as our economy struggled.

As a group, we have lost friends and family this year. We have had four of us in hospital, fortunately only one was severe and have missed out on traditions and team events throughout the year.

We, Victorians have endured multiple lockdowns, some of the most severe in the world however, after 60 days with no COVID we thought we had nailed this. Sadly, as today has shown, COVID is back and restrictions have come back in place.

2020 has shown the worst of times but, it has also shown the best of people. While COVID-19 may have kicked our ass, it has not knocked us out. As a group, we have supported each other where we could and, despite missing some of our traditional events, we have found new ways to connect with each other.

With 83 Million COVID-19 cases and almost 1.8 Million Deaths, 2020 was a CUNT of a year, no other word could ever describe it effectively. But we have got through it and, we start 2021 together again. Tonight, we close off this chapter and we start a new one, we start 2021 on a positive note and we start it together. I am grateful to have each of you in my life and, for the support I have received, together we stay safe, Cheers!

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