Thursday, 4 February 2021
There is widespread agreement that Australia has managed the COVID pandemic better than most countries. It is a view now supported by several studies that compared the COVID response across the world. Notwithstanding those assessments, and despite Australia's enviable position, the fact remains that many Australians have been financially and emotionally devastated by COVID-19. Lifelong jobs have come to an end, businesses have closed, life savings have been lost and lives have been shattered. Many of those affected have never before faced a similar situation, nor do they qualify for any government assistance. Some have never found themselves unemployed or without income. These are people who, through no fault of their own and without warning, now find themselves in need of assistance but with no clear sense of where to turn or whom to turn to. Some government departments, private businesses and volunteer community groups have responded with considerable understanding and compassion. They all deserve our praise and recognition.
One of the sectors that has also been quietly delivering extensive support services to those in need is the religious charity sector. In recent years religious organisations have been widely criticised, and even vilified, for their failings or the conduct of some within their ranks. Yet, at a time when those sectors have faced their own difficulties and with their own viability threatened by COVID, many church based charities have continued to provide support to desperate people walking through their doors. They do so by providing clothing, food, shelter and mental health assistance—regardless of the background of the person or where they come from.
With little publicity or public recognition, these church based charities have become a safety net for so many people who fell through the gaps and had nowhere else to go. They do so through the work of tireless volunteers and the generosity of their church congregations. In my own region I see their community work firsthand, and I've noted the increasing demand being placed on their services. Yet they still strive to do more. So today I take this opportunity to acknowledge and say thank you to all of the local church charities in the region I represent for their support to individuals and families over the past year. Their efforts have not only made a difference to so many lives, but have also contributed to Australia's proud global standing in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.