The following article was authored by Sandy Bolton MP and published in the Noosa Today on the 15th of December 2023:

Christmas is a wonderful gift! Gratefully, I get to move beyond the standard column of the many serious matters that comprise a Member of Parliament’s (MP’s) daily world, to the celebratory side of our amazing community. This includes gratitude for our awesome volunteers, and the vital role of the ‘power of one’, where gratitude in each of us as individuals can help solve humanity’s biggest challenges through its collective impact.

How? As research has found, gratitude has a positive affect via life satisfaction, extraversion and forgiveness, with a negative affiliation to substance abuse and neuroticism, anxiety and depression. Not convinced? Let’s look at science.

Experiencing gratitude activates neurotransmitters such as dopamine which is associated with pleasure, and serotonin, which regulates our mood. It also causes the brain to release oxytocin, a hormone which induces feelings like trust and generosity that promotes us to bond and feel connected. As I have shared previously, hugs also give a healthy dose of oxytocin, with the stimulation of the vagus nerve reducing stress hormones and heart rate. You can see why I love giving and receiving hugs!

Imagine what happens when we all feel like that, and the ensuing collective impacts that can address some of our pressing concerns such as mental health statistics, social media behaviours and ongoing misinformation that seek to divide communities instead of empowering. This would result in less anger, domestic and family violence, crime, recidivism and physical ailments. The list goes on and the flow on affect immeasurable.

In summary, when we give, and feel gratitude, we are empowering ourselves and others to be happier, healthier and more resilient.  This decreases the strain on every aspect of our world including our health systems and beyond. Yes, financially it also makes sense to embody gratitude which is not reliant on how much we have materially and may explain why some of the poorest countries in the world rate higher in the ‘happiness’ index than wealthier countries such as Australia.  Even though I come from multigenerational hardship, as I write this, my mother’s words are coming back when as a child I complained about not ‘having’. She would say ‘be thankful you have arms and legs’. I was too young to understand she was relaying that we should give gratitude for what we had, not what we didn’t.

Thankfully, unlike many others in similar situations, at each of the ‘crossroads” in my life, I was fortunate that there was always one person (the power of one!) who would make a difference to my future. Sometimes they were a stranger, or an organisation, who through kindness changed my life in a way that I could have never comprehended at the time.

In recent years, there’s been further significant scientific research on gratitude, and one key aspect found is that when people feel this emotion, it encourages them not only to honour the person or organisation that they feel grateful to, but also to pay things forward, which is an incredible tool for human flourishing. And that is where we come to the crux of this column!

Every day in our community for the 35 years I have lived here and what makes it so special, is that ‘flourishing’ from our fellow Noosans, who volunteer their time for the benefit of those experiencing hardship. It is to them I dedicate a very collective Christmas hug, and with limited space, I share just a few examples of who we work with daily.

Matt and the Noosa Salvos team provide support in every realm to our community, including our Christmas Day lunch! They rise to the call to provide innovative local initiatives for emergency or domestic violence related accommodation, after-hours assistance via a Noosa call centre, and educational as well training pathways including through their social enterprise coffee shop Thrive. We also depend on the team at St Vincent de Paul, who provide individual support for residents in desperate circumstances, and their confidential efforts that I cannot share with you, are heartwarming, life altering and lifesaving, with a very special call out to Maureen.

We adore our home-grown organisations, Waves of Kindness (WOK) and Making Lives Matter. At every step, whether providing furniture, accommodation or school Breakfast Clubs, their op shops also are a ‘defacto’ drop in, with the clinic at WOK providing access to physicians and counsellors, which is invaluable.  Youturn, formerly known as United Synergies, also born in Noosa is a ‘one stop shop’ for our youngsters and anyone experiencing vulnerability. Whether for family support, food supplies, emergency accommodation, mental health assistance or just a chat, they, like our other organisations, walk the talk, with their fabulous transitional Tiny Home project demonstrating that when there is a will, there is a way!

Then we have Sunny Kids, who ensure children, families and individuals access the support they need including those impacted by domestic and family violence. Available through Cooroy Family Support Centre and the fabulous Pomona Community House which is also the local hub for ‘everything’ including a Centrelink and Medicare Access Point they are treasured by all in our beautiful hinterland including this MP. They are very much a ‘village’ and deeply appreciated.

Our much-loved Red Cross ‘guys and gals’ are never far away, with homeless, mental health and aged care programs and support including FoodREDi to help build good eating habits in our students. You would be amazed at the length and breadth of their efforts, from the dearly-loved Trauma Teddies delivered to our residents in hospitals and nursing home visits, to the provision of essentials for those fleeing war-torn countries. To see their collective power is truly inspiring.

From our SES, Rural Fire Brigades, local RSL Subbranches and CWA, Santas Classy Helpers and Womenkind, to the Lions and Rotary Clubs and everyone in between including Meals On Wheels, our Smart Pups and PTSD Dogs who are with us through thick and thin, how do we say thank you? Your dedication and compassion, fundraising snags, Christmas cakes, stalls and balls, is just the tip of who you are. You save lives, and in amongst some of our most difficult times, even find time for some humour in exhaustion as Tewantin Lions did during our 2019 bushfires when they presented me with new ‘undies’ after too many days in the same clothes. Yes, I wore them over my jeans, and are still in my office to this day!

With so many to give gratitude to, as I said in my end of year ‘wrap’ in Parliament on behalf of the cross bench, you are all deeply appreciated, and I give thanks every day for what you do.

In addition to our many volunteer organisations, we have a raft of government avenues who do an incredible job with residents experiencing hardship and vulnerability, often unfairly targeted by the media, social media and unrealistic expectations. From Noosa Council staff, the Department of Housing and Communities, QLD Health and My Aged Care, to our police, paramedics and co-responders, thank you for all that you do in an increasingly difficult space.

Even though as an MP I may identify gaps in services, advocate for options to address, and fight for greater flexibility in government funding to ensure our organisations and agencies have what they require to meet fast changing needs of our community, these efforts are to make their, and our, world better. With them having to take on more of the load than ever in the past or envisaged, let’s support them by focusing on what we can do regarding what occurs in our own homes, on our streets, and within ourselves, our children and grandchildren.

With the volume of those experiencing difficulties at some of the highest levels ever seen across the globe, in Australia as well locally, think about how to bring and show gratitude, including through volunteering with any of our organisations. Imagine how you will feel, especially with that oxytocin being released! There is no greater gift, than the one of giving.

Now, to pressing matters! December 20 is the cutoff date to RSVP for our Christmas Day Community Lunch. Just provide your name/s, phone number and ages/gender of any children to 07 5335 8500 or via or at

Our end-of-year ‘wrap’ Connect should have hit your letterboxes with the Noosa MP Annual Community Survey which is open until 1pm on the 16th of January, so hurry! This can also be found at, under the ‘Connect’ tab. If you require a paper copy of either, please call my office on 53193100 as we want to hear from as many Noosa Electorate residents as possible.

As shared, I have deep gratitude in multiple ways, including for my incredible staff Lisa, Dylan and James! To ensure they get a well-earned break, our office will be closed from 22 December to 8 January so if you require assistance before then, contact us on 5319 3100 or via email During the break, for urgent matters contact numbers have been provided at, alternatively any calls and emails will be responded to on our return.

Pheww, yes, 2023 is nearly over! To all of our fellow Noosans, your families and friends, some who may be far away. From my house to yours, have a wonderful, safe, happy and healthy Christmas and a New Year full of gratitude for what we have, spent with what and who you love whether old, new, covered with fur, or not, or as part of a team helping others.

Blessings and big hugs to every single one of you, and I look forward to seeing you out and about, at Christmas lunch, or enjoying our beautiful home from bush to beach which we are so lucky to share!