NATURAL disasters are a tough time for Australians; many families have faced disadvantage as a result of damage to their properties.
We have lost families and friends at the hands of Mother Nature and it can take years to recover from the dent that these experiences leave on both individuals and on the community.
Earlier this year we have again witnessed or been part of terrible stories about bushfires ravaging Australia, leaving homes in ruins, removing physical traces of lifetimes of memories and leaving an emptiness in all our hearts.
These are times that test the spirit and strength of a nation. After witnessing our country facing the floods in Queensland in 2012 and then the bushfires recently, we have seen our nation pull together to make a difference and help those who have been affected by these disasters.
We have seen people in Australia putting the wellbeing of other Australians before their own. We have seen victims helping other victims and we have seen people with very little giving to assist others who have lost loved ones and their homes.
Our firefighters are working overtime, often without payment, putting their lives on the line to stop the blazes that are destroying communities across Australia. One of these courageous individuals has given his life to protect families from the devastation that these fires have caused. Our firefighters, particularly this individual, will forever be remembered by us as heroes.
I would like to acknowledge the work of volunteers, without whom many of the crucial activities to assist with the fires would not have taken place.
Groups like our SES workers, Rotary clubs and Lions clubs have put everything aside to give their time and resources to the bushfire cause.
Ordinary people in Australia are making donations and contributions towards families that have lost their homes and properties in the blaze. I would like to thank these individuals for such an honourable and selfless act.
It is the generous commitment of these individuals that makes me proud to be a part of this country.
Today, on a day that we celebrate this nation, I ask you to send your condolences to everybody who has been affected by the fires.
I encourage you to spare a moment for the people who have given their lives and donated their time to fighting the recent bushfires and to think about what being Australian really is about.
FATHER CHRIS RILEY
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
YOUTH OFF THE STREETS