Honours and Awards within the Australian Honours System - Investiture Ceremony (E) for Residents of Queensland
Our valiant awardees, their proud families and friends, and official guests. Kaye and I welcome you all most warmly to Government House.
We are privileged to share this room today with those Australians whose selfless actions have merited the awards for bravery that I have just had the pleasure of presenting.
And we are delighted that so many of you, here to support your recipient, could join us to witness this important ceremony.
Bravery is one of those human characteristics that we struggle to define, though we recognise and value it greatly when we see it.
Insofar as there is a common thread to the many views expressed on the nature of bravery, it is neatly summarised in the words of Nelson Mandela: The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers ... fear.
As we have heard, today’s award recipients have certainly been faced with dangers that would arouse fear in all of us.
These dangers included debris-laden floodwaters rushing down waterways or around flooded houses, submerged vehicles, the presence or likelihood of sharks and crocodiles, a vehicle on fire, the intense heat and deadly smoke of house fires, rough surf, rips and current, huge waves breaking on rocks, and a large, highly aggressive animal.
For the most part, our awardees were ordinary people going about their everyday lives – going fishing, at the beach, out driving, moving cattle, even sitting at home. They had every reasonable expectation of an ordinary day.
But, in an instant, they were faced with situations in which the lives of others, mostly strangers, were in danger. And in which they would have to put themselves at similar risk if they attempted a rescue. They are here today because they chose to put themselves at risk.
The jobs of the trained professionals honoured this afternoon – police and border protection officers – involve a higher likelihood of encountering situations that place them in harm’s way. But in the case of all today’s recipients in that category, their actions have been judged as going well beyond that call of duty, and their bravery is compelling.
All of our bravery awards recipients have, by their selfless actions and their respect for the value of human life, earned our enduring esteem and admiration.
They have also given us reassurance that, among the faces we pass in the street, are individuals who will step forward in times of danger and go to the aid of strangers. And they cause us to ponder whether we would have the courage to do the same.
Let us also keep in mind that they have placed themselves in traumatic situations. We need to be mindful that the effect of that trauma may leave its lingering trace on them.
But for today, let us simply honour and celebrate the courage displayed by our awardees. Let us also gently set aside their genuine protestations that “anyone else would have done the same” or “I was just doing my job”.
The fact is that each of today’s award recipients now wears the symbol of their nation’s recognition of bravery, and that is a marvellous distinction that they will possess for life.
I ask that awardees wear these symbols at every appropriate opportunity and tell others why they were awarded. We all need to be reminded that we have people capable of such courage in our communities. If you find that lacking in modesty, you could always say that the Governor asked you to do it!
Kaye and I look forward to meeting you as we now host our own modest celebration of today’s bravery awards, which we hope you enjoy. Thank you.