AUSTRALIA'S political and religious leaders have wished the nation a joyful Christmas while pausing to remember those who won't be able to celebrate the occasion at home with their families.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said even for a nation as blessed as Australia not everyone would have Christmas with family and friends.
"For some, work doesn't stop on Christmas Day," she said.
"So to those who need to work and to their families, we say thanks - thanks to the police and the firefighters, the ambulance officers and the nurses, the emergency personnel, the churches, charities and volunteers, to every one we can't do without and to their families."
Ms Gillard also mentioned this Christmas would be the first without her father, who passed away earlier this year.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott and wife Margie paid tribute to the countless charities that helped those in need.
"To the charities and the service organisations that give throughout the year and work so hard at this time of the year, we want to thank you for all that you do.
"You help so many people at this important time," Mrs Abbott said.
Mr Abbott said: "All of us as Australians have much to be grateful for."Echoing a similar message, the Uniting Church Australia president Rev. Professor Andrew Dutney urged Australians to "share the hope of Christmas with those experiencing hardships".
"Over this season of joy, I'd urge all Australians of faith, and those of no religious faith to spare a thought for those who are not so lucky," he said.
"The message of Christmas is one of hope. So please share that hope by opening your hearts to your neighbour, welcoming the stranger, helping whoever it is who needs your care."
Archbishop of the Catholic Brisbane diocese Mark Coleridge reminded Australians of the day's religious importance.
"At this Christmas time may you know more deeply the good news that the Saviour has been born into our world and, by the power of faith, is born each day in human hearts," he said.
"Peace to you from the One born before all time, yet born in time, Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
"May the coming of the Christ-child bathe you and your family in the light that never fades, the light of hope.
"May the dawn of a new year be for you a fresh start, and may the peace of Christmas rest upon you today and always."
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