Reception in Support of BUSHkids
Kaye and I are delighted to welcome you to Fernberg this evening our elected representatives, and the wider BUSHkids family.
Like BUSHkids – the Royal Queensland Bush Children’s Health Scheme – this grand heritage residence owes much to Queensland’s pioneering spirit.
Both institutions celebrate this year significant anniversaries: Fernberg is 150 years old; tonight we celebrate BUSHkids’ 80th anniversary.
There is of course an additional vice-regal link.
Having visited our vast West during the depression and amidst the prolonged drought of the 1930s, Sir Leslie Wilson – Queensland’s 15th Governor, and fifth to call Fernberg home – recognised the need for a practical and sustained city response to arrest the decline in the welfare of rural children, and improve access to adequate healthcare.
In 1935, a public meeting was convened. The following year, the first ‘coastal home’, at which rural families could stay while they accessed metropolitan medical facilities, opened at Redcliffe.
Many things have changed over the ensuing eighty years.
The original ‘coastal homes’ model, for example, has gradually given way to the establishment of service hubs throughout regional Queensland, providing rural children with access to a broader range of allied health services, and crucially now, family support.
And the name itself of course has changed.
Some of the challenges, however, remain the same: as it was in the 1930s, the slow burn of the drought is once again beleaguering our vast West.
And I particularly thank BUSHkids for their ongoing beneficial work in this space; we are in the metropolis assured by the concomitant psychological boost to our West your presence undoubtedly provides.
Another constant during those eighty years has been vice-regal support, and I am very honoured in this respect to join a proud succession of Governor-Patrons.
I thank the many dedicated former and current staff who join us here tonight – I understand some of you in your posts ‘outlasted’ up to four Governors!
I also thank wholeheartedly the Board, executive, corporate partners, and supporters.
Kaye and I thank you all, most sincerely, for your eight decade commitment sustaining our vital rural identity and improving the health of the wonderful Queenslanders of our vast West.
We wish BUSHkids a long and successful future.