Dinner in support of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee
Good evening, friends and former colleagues.
I begin by acknowledging the original custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and extend my respectful greetings to Elders, past, present and emerging.
It’s such a thrill to be with you all in the same room once again, part of a group that shares a special bond, having navigated through the COVID-19 pandemic separately as state and territory chief health advisers, yet also together as part of a national and global community.
We are still navigating our way through turbulent times, as coronavirus refuses to let go its grip, and in fact is finding new ways to challenge us.
I shudder to think where we’d be if not for the resilience of our respective health systems, and the incredible staff and personnel working in our emergency services, hospitals, medical centres, aged care institutions, schools and community support groups.
And standing with them for guidance and support has been you.
I feel confident in saying that the way each state and territory has handled its response has seen Australia through the worst of the pandemic, and we’re holding up remarkably well amid the current wave.
The strong foundation for this success, I believe, was all the work done beforehand and the relationships we were able to develop.
We knew each other, and we were able to talk frankly.
I was so grateful for those relationships during my time as Chief Health Officer of Queensland, and I remain extremely grateful for them today.
As the teams charged with the key decision-making during much of the pandemic thus far, we drew on our varied skill sets – public health administration, emergency medicine, paediatrics and general practice to name a few.
We benefitted from a unique mix of different yet complementary skill sets, and the Committee continues to benefit from that diversity of experiences today.
It was, and remains, a very well-thought-out model that works exceptionally well.
The challenges faced by one state or territory vary from another, and we are able to make decisions that make the most sense for our respective populations and circumstances.
While we work in the collective best interests of our nation, we know our states and territories have their own nuances.
We see tropical diseases here in the North that we don’t see in the south. Our demographics, lifestyles, social habits, and even our climates, differ.
We also benefit from an extremely strong system of local government, which isn’t always the case elsewhere.
I believe our unique yet interconnected systems have survived their greatest test, and can see us safely through the next phase of the pandemic, and any others after that.
I trust you will look after yourselves and each other.
It’s a tough road to tread, and knowing the nature of your sacrifices better than most I thank you for continuing to shoulder the enormous responsibility of leading your states and territories through these testing times.
Enjoy your evening.