The Order of Australia (Queensland Branch) 2014 Secondary School Citizenship Awards
Kaye and I were delighted to accept the invitation from the Queensland Branch of the Order of Australia Association to attend this sixteenth annual presentation ceremony, and, as both Governor and a Companion of the Order of Australia, it has given me great pride today to present the Association’s Secondary Schools Citizenship Awards and to see the Certificates of Community Service presented by Mr Honeycombe.
I at once extend respectful greetings to the Turrbal and Jagera peoples, who have traditionally been the custodians of the land around Brisbane.
As you have heard in the citations read earlier, the twelve students selected as winners of this year’s awards are all exceptional young Queenslanders – all the more so when we consider that every Year 11 and Year 12 student in Queensland had an equal chance of being recognised for the contribution that they make to their school and to the broader community.
To have succeeded against such a potentially vast field is, in itself, a source of justifiable pride for the recipients and their friends, families and school representatives here today. However, it is particularly pleasing to me to see these wonderful young people acknowledged here under the Royal Coat of Arms in this marvellous, historic place which has born witness to so much our State’s early history and still carries echoes from the past, from the gold leaf on the walls and ceilings which came from the gold mines of Gympie, to the furniture made from the Yellow-wood trees which were once so abundant, but are now almost extinct.
I mention our history because the twenty-fourteen award winners have now also become part of the history of this place, as well as part of the story of their schools, their wider communities, and the Queensland Branch of the Order of Australia Association.
That nominations for these honours are open to every secondary school in the State, from regional and remote schools to those here in the capital, makes your achievements all the more extraordinary. In congratulating the awardees, I also acknowledge and thank their schools and the teachers and principals who have mentored, encouraged and supported them through the nomination and selection process. In doing this, they have made a marvellous contribution to building the next generation of Australians who will selflessly give back to their communities and to our nation at large through their work as dedicated volunteers or through the achievements made during their careers.
Indeed, I fully expect that some of today’s recipients may well find themselves nominated, later in life, for awards under Australia’s unique honours system, for contributions made not only to their local community, but to the State and to the nation, because the importance and rewards of service, of giving back, of contributing to the greater good, are all lessons which, when learned early in life, are never forgotten.
These are exciting times for your generation (indeed, I didn’t know quite how exciting they were until I joined Twitter and facebook two months ago, Queensland’s first Governor to do so); you have abundant opportunity, and I wish you every success for your future studies, work and careers. Our State is clearly in good hands. Thank you.