Honours and Awards within the Australian Honours System: Investiture Ceremony E
Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, I am delighted to welcome you all to Government House for what is not only a very happy ceremony, but also, most certainly, a very important one.
I at once acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we gather, the Turrbul and Jagera people, and pay respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.
The honours and awards bestowed upon these 21 outstanding men and women today in the historic Fernberg Investiture Room are some of the highest recognitions one can receive.
Only the very finest are acknowledged in this way. And by the very finest, I mean you.
You have dedicated your time, commitment and passion, some of you for many decades, supporting fields and causes as varied as business, community, education, policy, medicine, research, sports and the arts.
Australia’s unique honours system began in 1975 with the creation of the Order of Australia, to recognise service to the nation or to humanity.
Other awards created at the time were the Australian Bravery Decorations and the National Medal.
Prior to that, Australians were recognised under the British honours system, known as the Imperial Awards.
Our system is special in that it has been designed for the community to make their nominations – you are honoured today at the request of your respective communities.
And as diverse as your backgrounds may be, you are all bound by your commitment and contributions to your states.
Indeed, it is those altruistic traits which bring you here today.
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, altruism is ‘the willingness to do things that bring benefits to others, even if it results in disadvantage for yourself.’
There is no honour in, or award for, selfishness.
Though some believe that humans are fundamentally self-interested, recent studies have found that a person’s first impulse is to cooperate rather than compete; that little children spontaneously assist people in need out of a genuine concern for their wellbeing; and that even non-human primates display altruism.
Altruism forms a vital ingredient for a strong, cohesive, tolerant society.
Irrespective of caste, creed or status, altruism brings people together, just as it has done today.
It is exceptional individuals like you who, through your genuine commitment to others, help build a country that respects the equal worth, dignity and freedoms of every individual – distinctly Australian values that we all hold very close to our hearts.
For this, and on behalf of your communities, I extend my heartfelt thanks and admiration.
The medals and the postnominals to which you are now entitled are the symbols of that recognition, and we hope you will bear them with pride.
It is just recognition, and I congratulate you all most sincerely.