What a difficult couple of years it has been for all of us. At a time of global crisis, we have seen communities at odds with one another and at the same time, our shared experiences of the pandemic and of rolling lockdowns have brought many neighbourhoods closer together.
Many people could not attend the Anzac Day dawn service in 2020, so people in streets across the country would assemble at dawn in their driveways while a neighbour played music from the Anzac ceremony and some even lit braziers. In the cold autumn morning, we waved to one another and reflected on the strange circumstances a hundred years since the first Anzac Day ceremonies began.
During 2021, we found all sorts of ways to connect, either meeting one another online or convening in parks and public places. Some of our CAE Book Groups around Australia found highly creative ways to meet and thrive, while still maintaining COVID restrictions. Many people have adapted to working and studying online from home or by reducing commuting.
It’s mid-2022 and we’re not out of the infection woods yet – with our masks and our other precautions still in place. But there are hopeful signs. People are travelling again. Families are reuniting. Churches and markets and cafes are open. Concerts and theatre and sports are back. As we move around our cities and towns, we realise how much we have been missing. And we cherish living in Australia, a place we are so lucky to call home.
At the CAE, we are preparing to celebrate our 75th anniversary. Yes, we have been around since 1947, established in the aftermath of World War Two. We hope some of you will be able to come and celebrate our three-quarter century with us on Thursday 15th September. We will be doing quite a bit of reflecting on our day of commemoration: on how far we have come, as an organisation and as an institution within our society.