Launch of the Leslie Wilson Outback Centre – BUSHkids
Mayor, Cr Hayes and fellow Councillors; Grandson of Sir Leslie Wilson, Mr Charlie Wilson and Mrs Kaye Wilson; BUSHkids Chair, Dr Neil Bartels and CEO, Mr Carlton Meyn; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen; girls and boys.
I at once acknowledge the traditional owners of these lands and extend respectful greetings to Elders and emerging leaders.
It is my pleasure, as both the Governor of Queensland and proud Patron of BUSHKids, to join you today in the renaming of the Leslie Wilson Outback Centre.
Shortly after being sworn in as Queensland’s 15th Governor on 13 June 1932, Sir Leslie Wilson – decorated war hero, astute politician and experienced administrator – immediately began planning his first of many extensive regional tours of Queensland.
Over the next few years, as he crisscrossed the State – often with wife Winnifred or daughter Marjorie – he was struck by the poor health of many of the children he encountered, living as they were hundreds of miles from the nearest medical facilities.
In fact, it was during a visit to Longreach, Clermont and here in Emerald in 1933 that Sir Leslie saw firsthand rural families who were suffering from the combined effects of prolonged drought and the Great Depression, sparking the foundation of this remarkable organisation.
Back in Brisbane, he set about convening a working party of health professionals and community leaders to devise a State-wide scheme to provide preventative and early intervention healthcare to children in the bush.
Eighty-six years later, the organisation we now proudly proclaim as ‘BUSHKids’ remains true to that vision, and stands as one of Sir Leslie’s greatest legacies to the Queensland people.
The eponymous Centre we proudly celebrate today builds on BUSHkids’ proud history of serving the communities of the Central Highlands.
A temporary Emerald service centre opened in 1996 to care for the children and families of the surrounding area including Blackwater, Clermont, Springsure, Anakie, Alpha and the Gemfields. The centre then moved to a more permanent site in 1997 and later relocated to this location here in Clermont Street in 2001.
Having travelled extensively throughout Queensland as Chief Justice and now Governor, I have seen firsthand the difficulties rural communities face in accessing timely healthcare.
I commend BUSHkids for the work that they do to overcome this burden.
I am reliably informed that here in Emerald, Sir Leslie’s grandson, Charlie, works nobly to keep his grandfather's legacy alive through ‘Friends of BUSHkids’.
A magnificent, life-sized portrait of Sir Leslie hangs in the headquarters of BUSHkids in Brisbane.
A copy of this portrait is behind me now and will be proudly exhibited in your reception area as a permanent reminder of the grit and vision of your founder, and Queensland’s longest serving Governor, Sir Leslie Wilson.
I thank and acknowledge the Board, staff, volunteers and supporters of BUSHkids, including the ‘Friends of BUSHkids’, for the vitally important work you do in all our regional and rural communities. I look forward to shortly joining Charlie Wilson, his wife Kaye, and our Chair and CEO, in unveiling a plaque, thereby officially renaming Leslie Wilson Outback Centre. Thank you.