2020 has been a very difficult time for us all.

One group, our youth, have had to endure the loss of key events that has become part of the journey from school to adulthood. The things we all enjoyed in our youth have been lost to them.

Our young people have missed out on celebrating events like their 16th, 18th and 21st birthday parties. The opportunity to start their first job has been ripped away from them with the majority of retail and local businesses forced to close due to restrictions.

The independence and freedom that comes with gaining their probationary licence, gone. Even the opportunity to learn to drive was taken from them by COVID.

Imagine being 17 and not seeing your friends, not having a valedictory, not going to deb balls, school camps or the normal graduation celebrations most year 12’s look forward to at the end of the school year.

2020 has taken a toll on our youth’s social, emotional and mental well-being. There are brighter days ahead for them though, and for all of us.

Be reassured that the feeling of despair will be replaced with joy as life evolves and 2020 is left behind as a lesson in the hardness that life can be.

The government is working hard to build an environment of job creation where young people can prosper and experience the independence we all yearned for in our youth.

Through our strategies, we are striving to pay half the wage for all apprentices and trainees because we know how long it took for young people to gain the same job opportunities back after the 1990 economic downturn and we don’t want to see that happen again.

Hang in there and stay safe, together we will get through this as a community.

That is just as I see it.