Page 1137 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 4 May 2022

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There is no way we would have been able to recover and adapt as productively as we have without our collaborative, team-spirited approach. It has been a busy and demanding period without much respite for the volunteers and staff in the ACT Emergency Services Agency, the ACT Parks and Conservation Service and ACT Policing, who have kept our community safe through another bushfire and storm season, while dealing with recent protests and the ongoing impact of the global pandemic. To all of them we continue to say thank you.

On this International Firefighters Day, I would like to acknowledge not only our firefighters but all frontline workers who respond to emergencies day in, day out, all year round, no matter the circumstances or season. Thank you to our police, our paramedics, our firefighters, our triple zero call-takers, and to the enablers who support them, for their ongoing service and commitment to our community. We also recognise and thank your loved ones, partners, children and those who worry when you are working around the clock to keep the rest of the ACT community safe.

In order to meet the increasing demands of our growing population in the midst of multiple health and weather emergencies, our first responders have quickly modified their duties on-shift to ensure that every necessary precautionary measure reflects the most current health and safety advice. While most of us were able to enact our business continuity plans from the comfort of our own homes, with loved ones by our sides, our emergency services personnel continued to respond to emergencies out in the field. They chose to serve our community, despite the added demands and responsibilities of wearing full personal protective equipment every shift for long periods of time, undergoing regular meticulous cleaning of equipment and vehicles, transitioning their training to online platforms, navigating cross-border arrangements and undertaking endless risk assessments.

Regardless of the task at hand or how many changes were required to best manage the situation in these trying times, our police and emergency services continued to look out for one another, as well as for their community. With the undeniable impact of climate change causing increasingly severe weather patterns, combined with the ongoing disruption caused by the pandemic and the impact of a growing population, it is inevitable that our police and emergency services volunteers and staff will remain busy.

From my conversations in the community, it is clear that all Canberrans are incredibly grateful for the work that our police and emergency services personnel do. What is their business as usual often makes an extraordinary difference to someone’s day. With this in mind, I target this message directly to our frontline responders: thank you for showing us what it means to put your community first and for inspiring us to do what we can when others are in need of assistance. When things become difficult, please remember, your work is valued and deeply appreciated. I look forward to continuing to work with you to keep Canberra safe into the future.

I present the following paper:

Recognising our first responders—Ministerial statement, 4 May 2022.

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