Afternoon Tea in Support of the Pyjama Foundation
A speech delivered by His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC as Administrator of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia: Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, I welcome you all most warmly to Government House for this Afternoon Tea in support of The Pyjama Foundation. We acknowledge in particular today a decade of dedicated volunteering.
Every night in Queensland more than 8,700 children and young people – 43,000 nationwide – cannot live at home. That number, sadly, is growing.
The children who are in care are less likely to finish school or go to university, and more likely to come into conflict with the law than other children.
While this is undoubtedly sobering, if extraordinarily something good can come of this, it is embodied in the generous spirit of the people in this room today.
You unite behind an uplifting common understanding: it is never too late to turn around for the better the life of a child.
This afternoon I seek particularly to acknowledge the many wonderful Pyjama Foundation volunteers, especially the magnificent Pyjama Angels.
The Angels selflessly take time to read, and provide regular one-on-one attention, to children and young people in care.
In doing so, they seek to improve literacy and numeracy, instil vital life skills, and provide children with the confidence so they may make positive decisions and craft a hopefully fulfilling life of their choosing.
(And today we have in our audience young people who have come through the Foundation’s programs and gone on to do just that.)
I also acknowledge today our incredible foster and kinship carers. I am honoured by the presence of those here today, and I thank every one of the nearly 5000 carer families across the State for opening your hearts and homes to vulnerable children.
Finally, I pay tribute to the indefatigable Bronwyn Sheehan and her able support team, including board members, supporters – both in business and government, volunteers and staff.
Bronwyn trained in the first cohort about 30 volunteers. Ten years on, that number has grown to more than 4,000, Australia-wide. Last year they undertook 61,000 volunteer hours, and read over 81,000 books to children and young people in care!
These are magnificent achievements. They augur well for the cohesion of our State and nation. And they have established a solid platform from which this organisation is set to continue to grow.
Please, enjoy today’s memorable occasion. I look forward to meeting many more of you throughout the afternoon. Thank you.