Opinion: A plea for camaraderie

If you are reading this, you are no doubt a food lover!

And good food brings people together. Food is social and we all love to socialise. Good hospitality and commensality go hand in hand. Shout a drink. Put a shrimp on the barbie. Share a sausage sandwich at Bunnings.  It’s all part of the Australian way.

Australians are known for their camaraderie. We are known for our sense of fair play and community spirit. We look after one another in times of trouble … the floods, the bushfires, the storms. We help out when we can. And whilst the iconic strong sense of mateship may have eased a little in recent times, it is when things get tough that we all come together, and the Australian spirit shines through.

The past few months have been tough on everyone, especially the hospitality and tourism industries. Most places have had to close, at least for a period of time. Now that many have reopened, the “new normal” has more space, less guests and increased restrictions. It is still tough. But we get up and keep going.

So, with the relaxing of restrictions, it is time to come together, to help one another and to work to rebuild our local businesses and communities. Whilst the pandemic is far from over, we have come through, so far, relatively unscathed. Australia has done well. But now we all need to pitch in to rebuild the economy. It is easy to sit back and expect the government to do it – but without us, there is no hospitality industry. And once the government support – JobSeeker, JobKeeper, etc. – goes, it will be very much up to Australians to support one another.

Hospitality is about sharing, generosity, giving, sensing, nurturing and includes respect, kindness and tolerance. To be hospitable is to treat people as if they are family or long-lost friends. And this is what we Aussies are good at.

Get out. Go to the cafés and restaurants. Buy local. Go on day trips. See your own backyard. Australia is blessed with some of the most spectacular scenery in the world together with the most unique and wonderful experiences.

Tourism Australia is urging us to travel. It is easy to be cynical of advertising, but now is the time to overcome any differences we have and come together as one. We need to encourage everyone to experience as much of this wonderful country as we can.

Instead of socks and undies this Christmas, give your family and friends the gift of travel and experiences. Give restaurant vouchers. Give holiday credits. Give a meal experience. Invite them to come and stay. Bring back the road trip. Go on holidays – locally. Organise events. Be hospitable.

Still a word of caution – as I have said many times before: we must not allow ourselves to become complacent. The virus could still come back to bite us. We must still social distance. We must still be conscious of good hygiene. And we must still register for tracing.

But that does not mean we cannot still have fun. So, get out and enjoy. Explore your local regions. Go see Australia. Now is the time to support our fabulous hospitality industry. Australia is worth a detour.

By Jeremy Ryland
11 December 2020

Photo by Weyne Yew on Unsplash

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