Reception for 2014 Winston Churchill Fellows from Queensland
I am delighted to welcome you all to Government House for this important annual ceremony where we honour the Queensland recipients of the Winston Churchill Fellowship Awards, and celebrate the unequalled opportunity which these Awards provide for recipients to undertake research overseas.
Next year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Churchill’s death and of the establishment of the Memorial Trust which supports the Awards and, as we approach that half-century milestone, it’s worthy of note that more than three thousand eight hundred Australians have now won Churchill Fellowships.
At the purely financial level, that constitutes an exceptional investment in research and in the personal development and achievements of Australians, but, more importantly, those thousands of fellowships have brought immense benefit to Australian society through the simple and far-sighted decision by the Trust’s founders that there would be no limits imposed on the work undertaken other than a requirement that the awardees share the results of their experience with the community on their return.
Total freedom in the choice of a research topic is rare enough, but even rarer is the requirement to give back – and Australia has been richly rewarded by that wise decision made by the Trust in 1965.
The sixteen Queensland awardees this year will continue the fine tradition set by their predecessors, undertaking a fascinatingly diverse range of projects, from research which will help us to enhance the health and welfare of our communities, to projects which examine the beef cattle industry, the crown-of-thorns starfish, and the arts – including the art of cheese-making!
Those projects will see this year’s cohort spend, collectively, more than a hundred weeks in no fewer than twenty countries – nations and cultures as different as Norway and Zambia, Israel and Japan, Poland and India.
That great variety of nations will put awardees into contact with many different languages, attitudes and beliefs in the course of their research and travels; contact which produces another less tangible but equally important benefit for them, and, ultimately, for Australia – the benefit of greater international understanding.
My own brother received a Fellowship during the 1970s to study renal disease in London and it is an experience he continues to cherish, even in retirement. Our modern world may be increasingly interconnected. However, as recent events demonstrate, it is a world too of unpredictability. Promoting international understanding remains one of the key values underpinning the Churchill fellowships, and it is vital that Australia and the world continue to reap these benefits from the Churchill Fellowships.
As Governor of Queensland, I am privileged to speak for all Queenslanders and it is on their behalf, and on behalf of the Winston Churchill Trust, that I congratulate this year’s awardees. I wish them every success as they set out on their exciting journey of personal and professional discovery, and I look forward to hearing of their findings – and their adventures – when they return.