Fire-affected school staff start new year with a bang

A special thank you was held on New Year’s Eve to honour the resilience of frontline workers through bushfires, floods and the pandemic.

Fireworks on Sydney Harbour
Image: Front-row seats: The New Year's Eve fireworks as seen from the Cahill Expressway.

Staff from fire-affected school communities had a spectacular start to 2022 with front-row seats to the Sydney New Year fireworks.

A special concert of headline performers such as rocker Jimmy Barnes was held on the Cahill Expressway to thank frontline workers and their families for their work during the 2020-21 bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic.

In partnership with Transport NSW, the Department of Education Regional, Rural and Remote Policy Unit distributed more than 160 tickets impacted regional, rural and remote school communities recognising the hard work by teachers and school leaders over the past two years.

Among those who took up the offer was Rowena Public School principal Jo Glazebrook.

Ms Glazebrook, who admitted she almost didn’t attend because of the Omicron outbreak, said she had the time of her life.

“This celebration helped us realise that despite everything we went through in 2021 – we are not alone,” she said.

RMS's organisation, thoughtfulness, and outstanding preparation were truly brilliant, beyond our wildest expectations. What a privilege! Jimmy Barnes was our highlight. He played all his classics “- I could listen to him all day.”

Regional, Rural and Remote Policy Unit executive director Ben Ballard said 2021 was a tough year for our regional, rural and remote school communities.

“Our school communities have shown remarkable resilience over the past 12 months. They have been hit by fire, flood and COVID – these school communities have kept the state of NSW operating through this challenging year,” Mr Ballard said.

"The celebration was an appreciation of the resilience our school communities have shown and continue to show.

“Their willingness to pull together, and their commitment to improving their communities does not go unnoticed. Working together can only make us, and our communities, stronger and more resilient, whatever disruptions we may face.”

While Ms Glazebrook said the opportunity to attend the New Year's Eve celebration “brings people together and fosters a sense of community and understanding that helps us get through those tough days”.

She said the recognition helped support those from fire-affected communities as they continued to “turn up, do our best and learn something new”.

“I am stronger for the reminder that we are humans just doing our best with what we have at the time,” she said.

“My job is to continue to teach our children that life is hard; sometimes we get to choose our hard and sometimes we don’t, but we always get to choose how we respond."

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