TRANSCRIPT - Adjournment Debate - Newcastle Lockdown Acts of Kindness
25 August 2021
While the coronavirus has sorely tested many in our community, it has also brought out the very best of humanity. The pandemic has shown that our communities are strong, they are resilient and they can achieve almost anything with just a little support. Tonight, I want to share with the parliament some of the positive stories from my community of Newcastle. We've seen incredible acts of selflessness and sacrifice for the greater good. Again and again, people have gone out of their way to ensure the most vulnerable not just are protected but remain connected to their neighbourhoods and they're not left wanting for any of life's essentials.
Coming off the back of an 18-month partnership, Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service and the University of Newcastle joined forces to help overcome workforce shortages and the spectre of the delta variant spreading throughout New South Wales. A crack team from the University of Newcastle School of Nursing and Midwifery travelled to Gamilaraay country to provide urgent vaccination and COVID testing to the people of Walgett and greater western New South Wales. Over the course of a week, Professor Amanda Johnson, Wiradjuri woman Professor Rhonda Wilson and Gamilaraay woman Associate Professor Donna Hartz set up vaccine clinics in local parks, outside supermarkets and inside shearing sheds and even went door to door knocking on households everywhere they went. No vaccines were waiting, and these amazing women also worked to address any vaccine hesitancy they found to great effect. Tonight I want to put on record my thanks and admiration for this partnership. May it continue to grow, and I look forward to the day that this partnership provides for a Bachelor of Nursing to be undertaken on country.
Meanwhile, closer to home, the University of Newcastle and the University of Newcastle Students Association have been doing fantastic work caring for students living on campus. When the COVID outbreak first struck our region, hundreds of students from the university were forced into isolation, with no way of collecting groceries or any essential items. Luckily, the students association stepped up to the challenge and provided over 1.5 tons of food boxes and care packages for students in residential colleges. It's always fantastic to see our community coming together to care for each other like this.
On the other side of town, I'd like to give a special shout-out to an awesome alliance of independent local businesses in my electorate: the Makers x Traders. While the pandemic has been really tough for our small businesses, the Newcastle Makers x Traders group has been hard at work creating new ways for Novocastrians to discover and fall in love with the diversity of our independent, locally owned businesses that make our city unique.
The Newcastle Window Wander is a walking trail that weaves throughout the CBD, highlighting the stunning window displays that Newcastle's Makers x Traders have created to fill our daily walks with colour and joy. I want to give a big shout-out to these local legends, including Hey Jude, Love Pete; Curve art gallery; Easel Art Space; High Tea with Mrs Woo; Studio Melt; Pride Swim; Monsoon Living; UMIE; Fringe Dweller; Alie Jane; With Love Bree-Lacey; Steel & Anchor; Abicus; Boho Luxe Trader; Ramjet; the Colour Bug; Blackbird Corner; Lone Clothing Co; Pappa Sven; and Cooks Hill Parkside Apartment. Thank you for providing a much needed antidote to the everyday madness of lockdown life. I know that the Makers x Traders of Newcastle have applied for funding from the City of Newcastle for a special rate so they can keep connecting Novocastrians to the vibrant creative spaces of our city, and they have my full support. I wish them every success in securing these funds.
I also wanted to wish the best of luck to fellow Novocastrian Christie Dawes, who takes to the track in wheelchair racing for her seventh Paralympic games.
Finally, in the wonderful streets of Mayfield, locals have been carrying out small but potent act of kindness. In Mayfield East, an anonymous poet has been filling letterboxes with heartwarming prose to lift the neighbourhood's spirits high, and, as a token of gratitude, the awesome Onyx Espresso Bar has been shouting free coffees to all our frontline pandemic heroes, who've been working hard testing and vaccinating throughout our community. There is no doubt that this pandemic has been challenging and it has caused pain and hurt for many. But amongst this adversity I am so proud of how the Newcastle community that I call home has pulled together to make lockdown just that little bit kinder.