I think we all agree that 2020 has been a year like no other.
We’ve all experienced change in our daily lives, frustrations and many have endured significant personal difficulties as a result of the coronavirus. For those families who have lost loved ones, it has been particularly traumatic, and this Christmas will be very difficult.
Schools and community life have been severely impacted. We’ve faced restrictions on travel and not been able to see family and friends.
Many locals have lost their jobs and others have experienced reduced working hours. So many small businesses have faced considerable uncertainty and many others have been devastated.
The Federal Government, along with the States, have had to made significant decisions, often very quickly, to address both the health and economic challenges.
New programmes, such as JobKeeper and an expanded JobSeeker payment, along with the Coronavius Supplement have and will continue to help millions of our fellow citizens.
The pandemic has particularly affected young people.
Our apprentices and trainees have not been able to work and train as they normally would.
Despite the difficulties, it is important as ever that we recognise, reward, and encourage careers in our local trades and small businesses. They are our future.
Since 2009, my Casey Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Awards have been doing just this. They are judged by an independent panel of prominent local business leaders. We normally have a face to face presentation – but like most things 2020 meant a virtual announcement on Facebook last week.
Congratulations, again, to this year’s winner of the Casey Apprentice/Trainee Awards, Cale Wilde, a landscape construction apprentice from Badger Creek.
Hang Sukte, a joinery apprentice at Miglas Windows in Montrose was awarded the Runner-up Award. Maxwell Van Schilt, a landscape apprentice, received the Encouragement Award.
Congratulations also to Caelum Elliott, from Chirnside Park and Coban Meredith, from Yarra Junction who were chosen as finalists.
A big thank you to the independent judging panel chaired by Phil Munday for their dedication to these awards.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I hope you will be able to enjoy the company of your family and friends as we turn the page on 2020.
If you are able, please support our local tourism and hospitality businesses who have been doing it tough.