Honours and Awards within the Australian Honours System - Investiture Ceremony for Residents of Far North Queensland
Kaye and I are delighted, once again, to be in Cairns and, as always, have been made to feel exceptionally welcome. Thank you.
I at once acknowledge our official guests here at today’s ceremony – your presence is very much consistent with the high importance our community places upon these awards.
I further acknowledge the awardees and their proud families and friends; and, respectfully, the Elders, past and present, of the First Australians of these lands.
In particular, I acknowledge the family of the late Mr Terry Waia who gave such dedicated and passionate service as a leader and advocate for the Indigenous communities of Far North Queensland and on the islands of the Torres Strait until his death, two years ago.
His late wife, Molly, survived him by only seven months, but I feel sure she would have been immensely proud to see his contribution recognised posthumously in the Australia Day honours this year. I am very pleased that their son, Mr Isaac Waia,¹ is able to be here to receive the award today on behalf of the family.
As The Queen’s representative here in our State, I am greatly honoured to present awards on behalf of Her Majesty in her role as the Sovereign Head of the Order of Australia.
There are 57 awards in our Australian honours system and an exceptional range of eight different categories of award will be presented in this ceremony: the Member of the Order of Australia; the Conspicuous Service Cross; the Australian Police Medal; the Australian Fire Service Medal; the Commendation for Brave Conduct; the Group Bravery Citation; and both civilian and military Medals of the Order of Australia.
That broad range of honours is an indication of the strength and scope of our national system – Australians can be nominated by their fellow citizens for an award, irrespective of their age, their education, their career or profession. Today’s awardees are men and women who have served their community and our nation in fields ranging from Australian football to fire services, from autism to aged care, as well as in medicine, training, mental health, policing, and service to youth, veterans, Indigenous communities, and the Army. They also include two men who have distinguished themselves through acts of conspicuous bravery.
The contribution each of these men and women has made is unique, but they have qualities in common, qualities which can be heard very clearly in the citations the Official Secretary has just read – words such as ‘worthy of recognition’, ‘dedicated’, ‘distinguished’, ‘significant’, ‘outstanding’, and ‘exceptional’.
These are powerful and important words, and they protect the integrity of our national system.
Honours are only awarded after careful scrutiny of each nomination.
You may be aware of (or suspect) who nominated you for the award you receive today! However, the integrity and confidentiality of the system is such that you will never know how many people were consulted before the decision was made by Honours Secretariat at Government House in Canberra to award you your medal or commendation.
On behalf of all Queenslanders, I wholeheartedly congratulate you on the honours you have been awarded. I encourage you to wear your medals or lapel pins with pride, for they are an enduring symbol of the respect and gratitude of your community, your State and your nation. Thank you.
¹ Mr Isaac Waia did not attend the Investiture Ceremony, and the award was accepted by another of Mr Terry Waia's sons, Mr Don Waia.