Australian Unity Rededication of Edith Cavell Building
General Manager, Australian Unity, Mr Rohan Mead and Distinguished Guests, good morning.
I begin by acknowledging the original custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and extend respectful greetings to Elders, past, present and emerging.
Graeme and I are delighted to join you here on The Lawn of this splendidly restored building for this very special event in the long life of the Herston precinct.
Through our careers in medicine, we are both very familiar with Herston and the role it has played in our State’s medical history since the Brisbane Hospital was built here in 1867.
But I’m particularly pleased to be here today as Governor of Queensland because it was one of my 26 predecessors, Sir Matthew Nathan, who officially opened the Nurse Cavell Memorial Block of nurses’ quarters of Brisbane’s Hospital for Sick Children, on this very day, a hundred years ago.
It was the first important building to be constructed in Governor Nathan’s time and in his speech at the official opening, he spoke glowingly of Edith Cavell as the equal of Florence Nightingale in her dedication to service and humanity.
By contrast, the Premier of the day, Ted Theodore, took the opportunity to remind the large crowd that, while the government had borne the principal cost of constructing the new quarters, the public response to fundraising efforts was poor. The man who was later to become a federal treasurer did not mince his words!
A century on, the comprehensive restoration of the building has been possible only through the generosity, vision and commitment of Australian Unity in partnership with Hutchinson Builders.
On behalf of all Queenslanders, I congratulate them on the successful completion of this project and thank them for their care in ensuring the authenticity of every part of the restoration, including traditionally made stained glass and more than a kilometre of antique hand-railings.
The Edith Cavell Building is close to the heart of Queenslanders – it was named for a woman whose courage inspired us; together with Lady Lamington Nurses Home and Towers, it has accommodated thousands of Queensland nurses over the past century; and today it is part of a unique health and research precinct which has been created as a welcoming and accessible space for us all.