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Tuesday, 15 December 2020
Government House, Sydney
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales

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As this year draws to a close, I am sure we are all keen to leave behind the year that was 2020. It has been an extraordinary year.

Thankfully, there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Our suppression strategy has been successful, businesses are beginning to rebuild and there are effective vaccines on the horizon. The outlook for 2021 is promising, much more so than I would have anticipated six months ago.

As Governor, I am so proud of the way the people of New South Wales have responded to the challenges we have navigated together. I cannot express my appreciation enough for the efforts of our health professionals, Police and Emergency personnel, public servants and essential workers. And as a community, we have adjusted our way of life to protect ourselves and each other.

At the beginning of this year Dennis and I began visiting bushfire affected communities. We were committed to continuing those visits right throughout the year, knowing these communities would be facing a long and arduous journey toward recovery. Now with restrictions lifted we have been able to recommence those visits to show support and see how thing are progressing.

Since March, as happened with nearly all businesses and the public sector, our way of working here at Government House changed significantly. Our program of metropolitan and regional visits went online, as did meetings with our Patronage organisations and with visiting diplomatic and consular guests. We also engaged with hospitals, teachers, students and local councils.

Some wonderful experiences came out of those virtual meetings. Friends and family tell me they feel “Zoomed out”. However, here at Government House, it has allowed for a fresh depth of connection. I have felt honoured to ‘be at the table’ with such a broad range of people including rural doctors, mental health workers, scientists working on COVID related projects, wheelchair athletes and more.

There have been many special moments, but one I will never forget, was the practical support, sense of humour, and indefatigable kindness among a regular support group for parents caring for children with disabilities. I am privileged to have seen first-hand the richness and kindness of our diverse society.

The American novelist James Lane Allen wrote: Adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it.This year our collective character has been tested and revealed as one of strength and compassion. Challenges remain and new ones are coming. Our quest at this time is to take into account what we have learned, and to build back better – and together.

For now, as the festive season approaches, I hope that you have some opportunity to breathe, to relax, to recharge and reconnect.

From Dennis and I, and all here at Government House, the very best to you and your loved ones in this festive season, and to all a happy new year!

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