Thursday, 10 December 2020
Lithgow Workies Club
Nobody who was in Lithgow or its surrounding districts on Saturday 21 December 2019 will ever forget that day. It was on that day, during the long, exhausting Black Summer, that the hills around Lithgow exploded into flames. The Lithgow Workies Club served as the community's emergency evacuation centre, and I was standing outside the club as the emergency was at its height. You could feel the heat from the flames from the car park. The air was filled with the sound of sirens. I could see homes on fire in Lithgow. There were choppers in the air. There was smoke, and people were scared. Community members started arriving at the club. Some asked what was going to happen. Cars towing trailers filled with farm animals pulled up.
Amidst that terrible emergency on that terrible day, the Lithgow Workies Club served as an oasis of calm and compassion. Nobody was turned away. The very young and the very senior, animals big and small—all were made welcome and reassured by the calm, friendly and familiar staff at the Lithgow Workies Club, who, at the same time, were no doubt worried about their own families, friends and properties.
So today, I would like to thank and pay tribute to the management and staff of Lithgow Workies for the courage, kindness and compassion they displayed on that day and on many others during that awful summer. In particular, I would like to acknowledge general manager Geoff Wheeler; directors Howard Fisher, Michael Quinn, Ray Warren, Darryl Goodwin, William Gregory, Trevor Schram, and Darry Fitzgerald; and staff members Shane Wade, Julie Rushworth, Shae Gillard, John Pillans, Linda Crowe, Brian Bonus, Joel Bilby, Merilyn Moore, Donna Bender, Lexi Smith, Kurt Lewicki, Gavin Wormald, Jamie O'Conner, Tony Northey, Dawn Hinchcliff, David Sutherland, Gilles D'Argent, Joy Brown, Tim Standing, Mark McPhail, Mohammed Tahsin, Luke McLean, Dylan Williams, Chris Starkey, Wendy Halpin, Kayla Anlzark, Brooke Tilley, Jonathon Engeler, Jillian Wheeler, Melanie Quinn, Jemaya Staines, Mitchel Cunningham, Bailee Staines, Sarah Mariner, Nicole Brookes, Marie McFadden, Sheena Braine, Lyn McCann, Dorelle Barbaro, Donna McManus, Kristy Futcher, Renae Piggott and Saaskia Girdler.
It's sometimes said that during the difficult times, when the chips are really down, you can see a person's real character. And the same could be said about communities. If Australia wants to see a study in courage and bravery, compassion, love and kindness, it should take a good look at how Lithgow and the communities of the Central West dealt with the bushfire emergency during that summer of black. Lithgow showed the nation that it has all those qualities in spades. So, on behalf of a grateful community, I'd like to offer a heartfelt thank you to all of the staff at Lithgow Workies. Our parliament acknowledges this wonderful club and the wonderful community of Lithgow today.