Opinion Editorial:

THIS year was certainly not what many of us expected. With hopes for a “Covid normal” year, we were placed under significant restrictions several times as Delta wreaked havoc.

At Christmas Eve, we now face another variant with the highly infectious Omicron forcing many of us, including my family, to change our Christmas plans. With hopes to travel to Sydney for a long-overdue reunion, Omicron has forced us to keep our Christmas gathering to Geelong.

While it is disappointing to not celebrate Christmas in my daughter’s new house, we are all used to plans being made and then changed. However, after two years of the pandemic, with no clear end in sight, we are exhausted.

This time of year usually involves clearing your desk to prepare for a big break, managing the hustle and bustle of last-minute shopping and Christmas gatherings, and planning extended trips to rest and recharge.

For many this year, that has not been the experience.

Supply-chain issues have delayed or restricted access to goods we have taken for granted, skill shortages in hospitality and retail have made it more difficult for some businesses to trade fully, and working from home makes leaving the office short shrift.

So why are we so tired? The nature of uncertainty plays its part. The weight of concern for our friends, families and community and their health and safety affects how we see the world. Anxiety has become a part of life for many people who have never felt that dread before.

Taking time out this Christmas has never been more important.

Making those plans and trying to find that perfect gift feels like we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. However, putting the focus on being together, taking the tine to reconnect, recover, reflect and rest needs to be firmly on the holiday agenda.

We don’t know what 2022 will bring for the pandemic, but we will be facing two elections. This will provide a significant focus for the Committee for Geelong as we continue to pursue key priorities for our region.

Having the opportunity to reflect on 20 years of the committee recently at our anniversary event also gave pause for thought. How can we continue to challenge and be courageous for Geelong? Our keynote speaker, former TAC CEO, Janet Dore, spoke of the “three Cs” that challenge us – Covid, climate and capitalism.

“Reframe the agenda, understand the context and aggressively pursue sound positions based on policy and research … the world has changed for worse or better, but the Committee must understand and meet the challenges ahead,” Ms Dore said.

“Opportunities within the ‘three C’s’ are there for the grasping. Not just doing the necessary things, but doing them differently and better for a fairer, free and inclusive society with a strong economy.”

Our pursuit of a zero-emissions future is a key focus for the Committee for Geelong. lronbark Sustainability’s recently released Roadmap to Zero Emissions: Geelong Region Jobs Analysis report is a key first step for our community to understand clearly the economic opportunity to reach zero emissions while creating sustainable jobs in our economy.

The Committee for Geelong’s Resilient Geelong report, published in late 2020, recommends this work be conducted as a pathway to a zero-emissions, future-proofed, local economy.

Looking forward, the Committee for Geelong will embark on a new strategy and we see this Roadmap to Zero Emissions report as a foundation for deeper analysis and a key action area for us for the next three-four years.

The Committee for Geelong stands ready to support a new agenda as we grapple with the pandemic and ongoing social, economic and climate-related challenges.

But for now, time for a rest. Stay safe and well this Christmas

Jennifer Cromarty
Chief Executive Officer
Committee for Geelong