Open Minds Wattle Day High Tea
A speech delivered by the Honourable Jusitce Margaret McMurdo, Acting Governor of Queensland.
Thank you, Marie – and thank you, Mr Speaker. The warmth of your welcome means that, although in the Strangers’ Dining Room, I certainly do not feel at all like a ‘stranger’ on this glorious first day of spring in this marvellous Queensland parliamentary precinct.
It is always a great pleasure to walk back in time through the doors of this magnificent room with its high ceilings, crisp linen, and beautiful chairs of Australian cedar.
I am told that according to Parliament House legend, the chairs may have done service in the original legislative building in the old convict barracks, and were possibly used in an early refreshment room for the honourable Members — if so, they have a history even longer than the Wattle Day we celebrate this morning with this splendid high tea.
When Wattle Day was first established here in Queensland just over a century ago in 1912, there was little hint that ‘the War to end all wars’ would soon embroil the world, or that Australia’s nation-defining involvement in that conflict at Gallipoli was just three years away.
This year, as we commemorate the centenary of ANZAC, it is particularly appropriate to remember the important role played by the Queensland Wattle Day League, now Open Minds, in supporting our returned servicemen.
Many of our best and brightest young soldiers came home with physical injuries. Others of our finest returned physically intact but suffering irreparable psychiatric and psychological damage about which we then understood so little. Their partners and families also suffered, largely alone and in silence, but for the Wattle Day League. Sadly, this became a repeating story in subsequent twentieth and twenty-first century conflicts. It is only now that we as a society are beginning to more fully understand the effect of those devastating mental injuries, both on the soldiers who served their nation and on their loved ones.
In little more than a hundred years, the Queensland Wattle Day League has grown from a small group of volunteers, selling badges and sprigs of wattle, to a contemporary organisation with a broad and important commitment to supporting all those with mental health issues.
Both as Acting Governor, and also as Acting Chief Justice, for mental health issues too often feature in matters before the courts, I congratulate and thank Open Minds for its ongoing work on behalf of some of our most vulnerable and marginalised community members. The work of those who support Open Minds to assist people with disability through mental illness in living independent, fulfilling lives, is greatly appreciated. I very much look forward to hearing about the exciting initiative to be launched later this morning.
On behalf of the people of Queensland, thank you, Open Minds. And happy Wattle Day all.