Pandemic heroes honoured in national day of thanks
A national day of thanks will be held next year to honour the everyday Australian heroes who pulled our country through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The special commemoration will be held on Australia Day 2021 and pay tribute not only to the essential workers on the public health frontline but humble heroes who risked their own wellbeing to service the community.
It will be the first time in history that Australia Day will share commemorations with another national event.
While the coronavirus in Australia had claimed 102 lives, cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and inflicted an economic blow that will be felt for years to come, the country had been spared the devastation experienced in other countries and is slowly recovering.
"This is the achievement of millions of contributions," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told News Corp Australia.
"It would be hard to nominate an Australian who in some way large or small has not had their lives impacted, disrupted by the pandemic.
"It has called on the bigness of Australians and I think that is something we can genuinely give thanks for and to celebrate our resilient character."
The announcement comes as News Corp today launches the Thanks A Million campaign and invites readers to show their gratitude to the essential workers who kept Australia going through the pandemic.
The untold stories of the brave men and women on the frontline are also highlighted in a 12-part series - The Night Watch - launched in all News Corp mastheads and online today.
The intense project shines a light on the dedicated police, firefighters, paramedics, doctors and nurses who put themselves in harm's way to keep us safe.
News Corp Australia executive chairman Michael Miller said the Thanks A Million campaign would acknowledged anyone from frontline health and emergency workers through to supermarket workers, teachers and volunteers who all pitched in.
"We're recognising the strangers taking in families affected by bushfire, our neighbours sharing essential items and the brave professionals and volunteers risking their own health and safety to help others," he said.
"Australians have shown what we can do when we support one another. This campaign encourages all of us to pause and say thank you."
From drought to devastating bushfires and now a pandemic, 2020 would be a year like no other stretching back to World War Two, Mr Morrison said.
He has received almost 100,000 letters in the past few months from people detailing their own hardships and expressing gratitude throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
That included pregnant nurses and intensive care specialists who continued to work at the coalface of the virus, a Sydney student worried about the fate of her year 12 studies and a woman with a terminal illness who told Mr Morrison she'd pray for him.
"There has been a selflessness and generosity about so many Australians in just their everyday lives," he said.
"Accepting the difficult, accepting the hardship, accepting the disruption and just stoically getting on with it and often reflecting on those who are in a worse situation than them.
"It is not the same as the second world war, of course it isn't.
"That was a very different challenge but it's a nice reminder that at a time of great trial Australians in so many ways have responded in similar fashion to when this has happened in the past."
Australians have also been encouraged to nominate their pandemic heroes or people who made an outstanding contribution or service during 2020 for next year's Australia Day honours.
It was too early to detail exactly what events will be held as part of the National Day of Thanks, Mr Morrison said, but "whatever the restrictions are at the time, we will find a very effective way to do this".
The one-off event will be held in conjunction with the annual Australia Day celebrations.
To nominate someone for the thanks a million campaign, go to thanksamillion.net.au.
Originally published as Pandemic heroes honoured in national day of thanks