Honours and Awards within the Australian Honours System: Investiture Ceremony E
Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys.
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.
Kaye and I welcome you most warmly today to Government House and to this room full of proud, beaming faces.
Much as I would like to think that I am the sole cause of this happiness, I know that family and friends of today’s recipients are also focused on those sitting right in front of me.
And rightly so, because today is a brief opportunity to observe, in these front rows, a gathering of what I think of as Queensland’s, indeed Australia’s, secret ‘army’.
Normally, the foot soldiers of this army are experts at camouflage. We could walk into an office, a sporting venue, a community organisation, or pass them in the street, and not realise they were there.
It is an unusual army. Though it is spread throughout our State, it has no command structure. And most of the ‘troops’ have never met one another.
But this particular force has no territorial ambitions, no desire to conquer others.
Quite the opposite: it is an entirely benevolent force in our communities whose motto might well be: ‘Do good’. This army is firmly on our side.
Fortunately for us, this group’s work in the community has not gone unnoticed. We have just heard their marvellous achievements read out for all to hear, and seen them presented with prestigious national awards.
As a result, this particular cohort of the secret army is no secret anymore.
We now know where this elusive group has been quietly ‘doing good’. And how they have gone about it.
Some have been busy in education – including youth schemes like the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, scholarships for indigenous youth, service to Ipswich Grammar, and educating at-risk young people.
Others have focused on different aspects of young people’s welfare – providing appropriate accommodation for those with high care needs, and acting as a mentor to indigenous youth.
Yet others have been active in specific communities, serving the Queensland Central Highlands through local government, the community of Gayndah through just about every organisation in town, in Tweed Heads through the RSL and Lions, in contributing to the well-being of Brisbane’s Greek community, and to the welfare of ex-servicewomen and their families.
Our awardees also pop up in sporting environments – lawn bowls, especially on the Gold Coast, and as a national figure in dance sports.
Service to museums and the preservation of our heritage is the field of another awardee, complemented by the recipient focused on conservation through organisations including Landcare.
One award recipient has made major contributions to the energy sector as an academic and senior executive, and another to community health through the Wesley Mission in Queensland.
And it is fitting, as a summation of the whole group, to leave to last an awardee who is an expert in giving.
As is now abundantly clear, the record of service and achievement represented by today’s awardees is truly remarkable. They are indeed a potent force for good.
On behalf of the people of Queensland, Kaye and I offer our heartiest congratulations for the great honour done to today’s awardees.
We extend our heartfelt thanks for the tangible and positive difference you have made to the lives of so many others.
Your army may not give out marks of rank, but you now possess marks of distinction – in the form of the highest honours that Australia bestows.
Wear them often to inspire others. That way, this marvellous secret army will become a yet more powerful force for good.