The extraordinarily difficult summer, marked by bushfires and smoke, was followed by our current public health emergency and economic crisis. Our community has been through a lot.
We’ve all seen the significant impact that this is having across Canberra – for thousands of Canberrans who face unemployment, for business owners struggling to support their staff, grassroots sport struggling to keep afloat, stressed parents trying to both provide for their family and home-school their kids, kids not able to go to school and older Canberrans feeling disconnected with the loss of social opportunities.
While many Canberrans have struggled emotionally and financially, my spirits have been raised by the incredible stories of kindness being shared. It’s times like these that our community spirit is strengthened and shines through the darkness, reminding me particularly of what I love most about my own neck of the woods – Gungahlin.
When we get through this, and we will get through this, we will look back and remember all the small acts of kindness we showed each other.
Many kids will know that across Gungahlin these past couple of months there’s been a big bear hunt happening. With families coping with the realities of home-schooling, it’s been a great way to get everyone outside into some fresh air with keen eyes spotting and recording bears with the help of the Gungahlin Region Teddy Bear Hunt Facebook group.
Over in Ngunnawal, Margaret and her team of volunteers have been a godsend to many in need with the Ngunnawal Street Pantries. With the message ‘take what you need, give what you can’, there are now several pantries dotted around Ngunnawal including those specifically for women, giving away clothes and general household needs. With many families doing it tough at the moment, the pantries have been a valuable resource for many residents.
Close by, the Mustard Seed Pantry at the Gungahlin Uniting Church is also continuing their amazing work providing food relief for those in need. While many of us are focused on COVID-19, the G Spot at Gungahlin has continued to support those affected by the bushfires on the south coast, including collecting winter clothes, blankets and other goods.
Donations are what keep these groups running and providing the support that is so valued, and I thank anyone in our community who has donated.
In addition to the fantastic work of so many individuals and community groups in Gungahlin, there are businesses adapting to changes and being innovative. Husk Bakery, known for their colourful and themed croissants, have been running a mobile van travelling around our suburbs selling their freshly baked goods to families in their driveways.
Sirens Bar and Restaurant in the town centre has also been selling lots of takeaway options, from seafood platters for Easter to local delight platters for Mother’s Day. It has really brought home to me how strong the entrepreneurial spirit is in our region.
Gordon and Ute at The Wombat Den haven’t just been sitting idle either, despite local markets being closed. They’ve been busy cooking every day in the kitchen preparing care packages of amazing cakes, slices and more for the local neighbourhood.
Gungahlin has incredible community spirit and hearing these stories always reminds me of how grateful I am to live in this part of the world. If you have any good news stories to share, I would love to hear them in the comments below. But in the meantime, stay well, stay connected with your neighbours and loved ones, and remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
James Milligan is a Liberal Member for Yerrabi.