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Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes - and sometimes from the most unexpected quarters. As drought, hail, floods and, worst of all, bushfires have ravaged communities all over the nation, motivation and inspiration has not been in short supply in "real Australia". The selfless actions of friends, family, neighbours, strangers, local groups and volunteer organisations have inspired us and strengthened the bonds of community. We want to say thanks to the heroes of the home front. Here are just a handful of their stories. But were keen to hear more. To salute a person or a group, please use the form here.
BATEMANS BAY POST: Colin Brennan was the light in the dark for a South Coast village
When violent flames battered the doors of the village's fire shed on New Year's Eve, the 12 people inside struggled to see through the darkness.
It was pitch black, and the shed's roller shutter door was losing the battle against the "cylone-like" blaze. The darkness, however, was nothing new for Colin "Cole" Brennan, who is legally blind, and he moved around the shed easily. READ ON
CANBERRA TIMES: 'We're all Mogonians': the long road to recovery
It was only a few days ago Sherrie Nye realised the birds had returned to Mogo. The eerie silence that followed the thunder of the fire, spare the odd thumping sound of an unstable tree falling, had finally left. The birds' native songs were ringing out once more.
For Ms Nye, part of the Mogo Local Aboriginal Land Council ranger team, it was a moment of hope after weeks of despair. READ ON
BELLINGEN COURIER-SUN: The ecologist telling the world about our bushfires
For years Mark Graham has been an authoritative, lucid, local voice on environmental issues. He's from the NSW North Coast and the Nature Conservation Council ecologist.
In the last week or so, Mark has been called upon by the global media over a dozen times as they present our country as an example of what a hotter and drier world with more ferocious droughts and fires looks like. Now, in his capacity as an employee of the NSW Nature Conservation Council, he's turning his mind to a managed recovery, disseminating information about the top priority actions. READ ON
SOUTHERN HIGHLAND NEWS: The people behind the scenes
Kathy Radford admitted she joined the Rural Fire Service to be a "sticky beak". She joined the communications team 22 years ago to keep track of her firefighter son Ben.
David Stimson's association with the RFS started in 1996. He worked the trucks and now is responsible for ensuring fire and safety information gets to the people who need it most - the affected communities. READ ON
ILLAWARRA MERCURY: Surf-pop stars Hockey Dad and friends raise the roof - and $150k
It was called the 'Fire Fund' Concert. A bunch of bands managed to ensure they put the fun into funds and raise a bunch of money at the same time. Headlined by Windang duo Hockey Dad, more than $150,000 will be shared between a number of agencies.
"In the past few months, a lot of people have felt helpless as they aren't the ones out there fighting the fires," Jeb Taylor said. "This was one way they could help." READ MORE
CANBERRA TIMES: Nerriga Hotel a watering hole on many levels as fire destroys the region
Nerriga Hotel became the sanctuary from the devastating Tianjara bushfire as it descended on the town at speed back in December.
Hotel owner Phil Smith received a phone call warning him the bushfire was only 30 minutes from hitting the town in the NSW Southern Tablelands. what happened next was an exercise in bravery, community and utter generosity. READ ON
Enjoy your Sunday.
WHO ELSE? Let us know someone who has stepped up and changed lives during our summer from hell. Just fill in this form
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