TWO years ago we all took for granted the ability to gather for events, celebrations, family get-togethers and even political debates.
The restrictions brought about by Covid mean that many of these have been cancelled, curtailed or postponed over the past 21 months.
As a result, when events can be held, there is a real appreciation for the opportunity, and gratitude to the people who are making it happen despite limits on numbers, Covid-safe plans, check ins, and other additional burdens to the organisers, who are often volunteers.
That sense of celebration was clear at the Millicent Business Community Awards on Saturday, which celebrated local businesses and employees.
People were just so pleased to be able to get together, celebrate each other’s achievements and be thankful.
There were many worthy recipients, but the award for Community Spirit was particularly inspiring.
Sukhi Dhaliwal and his wife Kamaljit from New Heaven Indian Restaurant were honoured for their free meals initiative. His team regularly makes around 60 meals per week which can be collected in the IGA, free of charge.
Sukhi and Kamaljit say helping people who are struggling is their way of expressing their gratitude to the people of the Millicent area for their support and love since moving there.
Students from Millicent High School were also working hard to provide the catering at the Awards event, and the MBCA committee and other volunteers did a great job to pull it all together.
Shadow Country Cabinet also returned to Mt Gambier, with shadow ministers talking with local organisations and individuals, and a public forum on Sunday evening.
Housing, access to services, clean energy, health, disability, training, education and concerns about the border opening were among the topics raised.
It is always good to have my Shadow Cabinet colleagues join me in my home area, but it was all the more significant because the original dates had to be changed when we had the Covid case here in Mount Gambier.
It was great to be able to talk with local people about hopes and plans for the future of SA.
We are slowly seeing the return of events, which are important for our local economy but also for our local sense of community.
As we approach the Christmas season, let’s hope we can meet together more, celebrate more and appreciate more.
Shadow Minister for Regional Development