This year the threat of bushfire once again surrounds Australia Day.
As many Victorians prepare to participate in community events or spend time with family and friends in the backyard or at the beach, our career and volunteer fire services are striving to protect Victoria.
They are out on their trucks, in the bush, in their overalls, cutting control lines and fighting fires.
At relief centres the Red Cross and other volunteers are providing support and comfort.
Together Victorians are lending a hand and giving their time to others.
The history of Victoria is very much a legacy of volunteering and working together to build a stronger community.
It’s a spirit that we cherish, that makes us proud, and that we never take for granted.
This Australia Day weekend for many of us marks the end of holidays and the beginning of the year in earnest.
As we reflect on what Australia Day means to us we think about our aspirations for the year ahead.
It’s a time to think about how we can contribute to our community, by volunteering or giving or supporting in some way.
Sometimes it’s the small things that help so much.
Pick up the phone and call a friend or neighbour who may be lonely or need some support.
There are all kinds of ways you can reach out and help us build a stronger community together.
Although in 2012 Victoria’s road toll was the lowest on record, sadly there were still 279 deaths on our roads last year, and even one death on our roads is one too many.
This Australia Day long weekend is a time when many Victorians will be travelling to and from events or holidays.
Everyone on our roads has a responsibility – drivers, passengers, pedestrians – everyone has responsibility to be safe on the roads.
Slow down, don’t drink and drive, don’t drive when you’re tired, and if you’re with someone who shouldn’t be driving, then please, don’t let them drive, or stop them from driving.
This Australia Day and throughout 2013 let’s drive the road toll down together.
Happy Australia Day.
Ted Baillieu MLA,
Premier of Victori