Honours and Awards within the Australian Honours System: Investiture Ceremony A
Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys. Welcome to Government House. Kaye and I are absolutely delighted that you join us here on this very special day in your lives.
I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands on which we gather, the Turrbul and Jagera people, and pay respect to their Elders past and present – with encouragement to their young emerging leaders.
I would like to offer our warmest congratulations to today’s most honoured guests - recipients of the Australian Police Medals, and those receiving Australian Bravery Awards, Commendations and Citations.
The room in which we gather is known as the Investiture Room because ceremonies like today’s are its primary purpose. That said, I should stress that investitures are by no means a daily occurrence. On the contrary — recipients of Australian Honours and Awards are part of an exclusive group comprised of the best our nation has to offer.
Australian Honours and Awards are a vital component of our social fabric. No matter which part of our country you come from and no matter what your background is, the Honours and Awards help define, encourage and reinforce national aspirations, ideals and standards by identifying people who make an outstanding contribution to society.
Of course, Kaye and I — and I’m sure all of us in this room — are incredibly proud of all of today’s recipients. I say with confidence that you are the embodiment of the Queensland spirit: a mate to many and of noble service to all. Queenslanders are tough. But above all, they are compassionate.
There are many ways to make a difference. But what you recipients have in common is that you have contributed in a way that is both unique and altruistic. Unique, because what you have done is truly out of the ordinary. Altruistic, because you did so for the sake of others.
Altruism is an evocative and inspiring word, being the opposite of selfishness, and really a call to action for all of us. Unfortunately, not many people know the true meaning of altruism. You do. You are the exception that proves the rule. For that, we are profoundly grateful. And for that, we acknowledge you.
Australia’s distinctive honours system was introduced in 1975, with the creation of the Order of Australia, to recognise service to the nation or humanity. Prior to that, Australians were recognised under the British honours system, also known as the Imperial Awards.
Decisions about honours and awards are obviously not made lightly. The Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat at Government House in Canberra employs some 35 staff who, in an average year, spend an estimated 40,000 hours researching thousands of nominations.
All of this shows how special recipients are. Exceptional individuals like yourselves help build a strong, cohesive, tolerant community that respects the equal worth, dignity and freedoms of every person. Distinctly Australian values that we all hold very close to our hearts.
We are very mindful that some of the incidents for which you are honoured today had a tragic ending. We understand the emotional stress and the physical pain etched into the lives of the rescuer, the rescued and their respective families. It is our hope that those who lost a loved one can take comfort in the extraordinary efforts made to save them, or the efforts they made to save someone else.
Distinguished recipients, family and friends — as Governor of Queensland, the representative of our Head of State, Her Majesty the Queen, I commend you for actions and emphasise how incredibly proud we are of you.
On behalf of all Queenslanders, I thank you once more for your impressive achievements. Please, don’t let the physical symbols of your awards gather dust, but wear them with pride. You deserve it.
As we conclude the formalities, we invite you to enjoy the hospitality of Government House. I look forward to meeting and speaking with you shortly.