Finally, we are at the end of this never-ending year.

As news started to filter through at this same time last year of a concerning new virus, few of us could have foreseen that COVID-19 would go on to wreak havoc and heartbreak across the globe on such a massive scale.

We know that in many ways we are ‘lucky’ here in Queensland but we are also aware that in order to contain the virus we have had to bear the consequences of strict and sometimes painful restrictions. You may have lost a loved one and been unable to attend their funeral. You may have welcomed a new baby into the world without being able to share the joy and receive support in those early days. You may have been stranded in Australia, have a precarious visa status or be homeless, and have felt abandoned. You may have felt overwhelmed by having to work harder than you’ve ever worked whilst home-schooling your children or you may have lost your job or your business and be fearful of what the future holds.

This year has forced us to dig deep and tap into reserves of fortitude, resilience and adaptability that we never knew we had. In our separation, isolation and darkest moments, we have needed connection – to be seen, heard and considered – more than ever. And we’ve used our ability to innovate or be resourceful so that we can continue to reach out to our loved ones, our friends, our colleagues and people who can support us.

Certainly, for all the team at Health Consumes Queensland, 2020 will also go down as the year when we connected with consumers, carers and staff members more powerfully and deeply than ever before.

Our Consumer Conversations and Kitchen Table Discussions, in particular, have become highlights of our working week and we look forward to building upon all these relationships together next year.

Thank you to every consumer who has contributed to a Conversation, a consultation, a working group, committee or kitchen table discussion this year.

Thank you to Queensland Health for recognizing the importance and value of genuine engagement and embedding it into your COVID-19 response. The fact that many of us will be able to travel, take a holiday and be reunited with family and friends over the next few weeks speaks for itself.

We hope many of you will be able to take some time out this summer to refresh, recharge and restore. We are grateful if you are working to take care of our health or continuing to contain the pandemic during the holiday season. We are also thinking of you if you are unwell or caring for someone or you have to stay in isolation. We know holidays in these circumstances are doubly hard for you.

Wishing you peace, hope and joy at Christmas time.

Melissa, Jo, Reema, Suzanne, Nicole, Chelsea, Leonie, Anne, Kirra and Alison