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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 December 2021) . . Page.. 3999 ..

to pay rent and mortgages, with some losing their homes. I have personally delivered food and medicines to people going without.

Many have been separated from loved ones. Others have missed weddings and funerals. Canberrans have been cut off from synagogues, temples, mosques, churches and other essential places of gathering. People with debilitating ailments have faced agonising delays in accessing surgery. Homes have been visited by disease, death and ongoing disability. Parents at dining tables have struggled to work from home as their children have cried out for face-to-face assistance with learning. Mental health challenges have surged amongst young and old alike.

In the midst of everything, all the usual non-pandemic-related complications have continued. Motivated by a desire to protect those whom I love most, I will not go into detail, but 2021 has been a year of personal tragedy for my family, the impact of which will be lifelong. I choose to share this only because I want others who are struggling to know they are not alone. I also want to help give my fellow Canberrans reason to hope. I certainly do not have all the answers, but I know what has helped me and my family when faced with a deep challenge. I share a few of those things in case they might also help.

First, stay active. Exercising not only changes your body but also your mind, your attitude and your mood. I am deeply grateful that I found my Brumby Fitness group. I look forward to training with them, even at 4 am. Some say that is crazy but, to me, time has no meaning when it comes to seeing family members. I always look forward to seeing family, whatever hour of the day it is. They have helped me a great deal in coping with personal tragedy.

Second, talk to someone. I am grateful for three wise men who entered my life because I reached out to them. We have to set aside embarrassment or shame during our difficult times and talk to someone. I am deeply grateful that I have the men who were there during my many, many dark times. I thank Paul, a lifelong friend. Without him, I would not be here today. To Adam, I am grateful for the wise words and comfort that provided a place of safety. Without him, I would not be the person I am today. He has tremendously helped me understand issues more clearly and has counselled me in wisdom. My third wise man is my dear friend Talis and his family. I am grateful for his spiritual light, which could not be darkened, and grateful that he could pass on that light when I felt dimmed and slowly dying.

Third, invest in yourself. Find something that you like. Discover who you are and reconnect with that person. In a new world, one where I needed to learn to breathe again, I had to learn to go about my daily responsibilities as a mother, a family woman and a worker. These three things helped me greatly, and I am deeply grateful for that.

Earlier this year, if someone had asked me if we were going to make it, I would not have had an answer. There have been times when I was not sure we would. There have been times when I wanted to just give up. Too often everything felt too hard. But I stand here at the end of this legislative year as a survivor. That is not a boast in any way. If anything, it is an expression of deep gratitude. The good news is that, despite

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