The COVID-19 pandemic has dominated 2020's narrative. But wedged between Victoria's two lockdowns were protests against racial violence. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Andres Guardado became household names after their deaths as a result of police brutality in America. That sparked Black Lives Matter protests around the globe and put racism in the spotlight.
Sports stars across the world took a knee before competing as the campaign took on an End Racism theme.
South-west Victoria is a long way from the US and the rallies but this week about 100 Chinese workers at Warrnambool's Midfield Meats walked off the job seeking permanent residency. They claimed they had encountered racism in their workplace, something vigorously rejected by management.
The visa workers have toiled long and hard in an industry Australians traditionally shun. Midfield management said they had been great workers. Management said they had spent more than a year advocating for the workers' residency applications. But what more can they do when the government makes the ultimate decision?
Sadly, our stories posted on social media prompted a flood of appalling racist comments. They were deleted and so too were the posts. Surely we are better than that? Surely we have learnt from other countries and Australia's past? The community we want is a welcoming, safe, tolerant one.
We can't allow racism in the school yard, the workplace or online. We need to accept people for who they are and celebrate our differences. There are plenty of painful examples where the opposite has happened. The end result in those cases has been divisive and destructive.
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas at the end of a year like no other, the overwhelming feeling is relief. But we need to look beyond our own backyard. Yes, we might have dodged the virus and kept a job, but what about those over the fence, down the road or across town? The number of those seeking support this year is high and we should reach out to them regardless of race, sex and socio-economic backgrounds.