Reception for BUSHkids in Honour of 30 years of Voluntary Service by Dr Neil Bartels OAM
Federal Member for McPherson, the Honourable Karen Andrews MP; Interim President, Tennis Queensland and President, Scouts Queensland, the Honourable Jane Prentice; BUSHKids Chair Dr Neil Bartels OAM, CEO Mr Carlton Meyn and Council Members; Former State President of the Queensland Country Women’s Association, Mrs Christine King; family and friends of the Bartels; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Graeme and I are delighted to welcome you all here this evening for this special reception to acknowledge the contribution made to BUSHkids (the Royal Queensland Bush Children’s Health Scheme) by Dr Neil Bartels OAM.
I begin by acknowledging the original custodians of the lands on which we gather, the Turrbal and Jagera peoples, and pay my respect to Elders, past, present and emerging. I extend that respect to any First Nations people here today.
A celebration such as this gives me the opportunity, as Governor and Patron, to acknowledge the history of BUSHkids and its close ties to this office.
It was one of my predecessors as Governor, Sir Leslie Orme Wilson, with the support of his wife, Lady Wilson, who established what we now know as BUSHkids.
In visits to rural and regional Queensland, Sir Leslie and Lady Wilson were repeatedly shocked by the impact of the Great Depression and drought on the families of the west, and particularly on children.
In 1935, Sir Leslie took action, bringing together a group of health experts and voluntary organisations to establish the scheme.
Eighty-seven years on, BUSHkids continues to thrive and every one of the 12 Governors who succeeded Sir Leslie has proudly accepted patronage.
This evening’s celebration also gives me the opportunity to recognise the many individuals and organisations who support BUSHkids today: the dedicated staff and volunteers; the past and present BUSHkids Council members; academic staff at the University of Queensland; sponsors and donors; and several current and former elected representatives.
All have played a vital role in the continued success of BUSHkids and, on behalf of all Queenslanders, I thank you.
I’m also pleased to see some representation from other patronage organisations here tonight, including the Queensland Country Women’s Association and Volunteering Queensland, who I invited with the purpose of strengthening the links between like-minded organisations which, like BUSHkids, do so much to improve the livelihoods of regional Queenslanders.
But tonight, I particularly thank and acknowledge the contribution of Dr Neil Bartels OAM, over an impressive 30 years.
During my years as Chief Health Officer, I was very familiar with Dr Bartels and his work for BUSHkids, and I shared the pride of his family, friends and colleagues when he was awarded the Order of Australia medal in May 2018 “for service to medicine in rural and regional areas”.
Citations for honours and awards are always written briefly and to the point, revealing little in the way of details of the dedication and service that led to the nomination.
The citation for Dr Bartels doesn’t tell us that, as of October last year, he had served BUSHkids for a remarkable 30 years or that, in roles as a committee member, Deputy Chair and Chair, he was part of the leadership team that guided the organisation through its transition from providing residential homes on the coast, to today’s service centres and multidisciplinary teams of therapists in rural communities.
The citation also doesn’t reveal the immensely strong link between the scheme and the Bartels family with Neil following in the footsteps of his father who joined the Council in 1966 and went on to serve as Deputy Chair and Chair until 1991.
The Bartels family have now had an auspicious association with BUSHkids for an astounding 55 years – almost two thirds of the life of the organisation, and it is stronger today for their dedicated, voluntary service.
On behalf of all Queenslanders, particularly the families living in remote areas, I thank Dr Bartels for his exceptional commitment and for continuing this fine family tradition.
Please join me in acknowledging his service.