Reception in support of 60 years of Lifeline
Lifeline Australia Directors, Ms Michelle Phillips and Mr Robert Hubbard; CEO, Mr Colin Seery; distinguished guests; staff, supporters and volunteers of Lifeline and Uniting Care; ladies and gentlemen, welcome.
I begin by acknowledging the original custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and to any First Nations people here this evening.
I am delighted to welcome you here tonight to celebrate the enormous contribution Lifeline has made to Australian society over the past 60 years.
When Lifeline’s founder, the Reverend Doctor Sir Alan Walker, received his knighthood from our late Queen in 1980, the citation was simply “for services to religion”.
When I heard this, I was surprised that the acknowledgement was so brief, but I quickly realised that, really, nothing more needed to be said because everything this fearless crusader did – including establishing Lifeline – arose from his deep faith and his commitment to serving others.
Like anyone born in Australia in 1911, Sir Alan’s experiences and memories growing up would have been of the first World War, the privation of the Great Depression, and, before he reached the age of 30, yet another World War.
He was certainly no stranger to the impact of these events on the mental health of the nation, but what set him apart is what he decided to do about it.
Deeply committed to the Methodist tradition from the age of 11, this larger-than-life social activist and pacifist became what former Governor-General, Bill Hayden, called “the conscience of the nation”.
And he turned this conscience into action, when, in 1963, he created a humble 24-hour telephone counselling service for people in crisis, and called it Lifeline.
By the time of Sir Alan’s death in 2003, shortly before Lifeline’s 40th anniversary, he had seen the concept spread around the world, and today’s statistics reveal that millions of lives have been saved through the person-to-person connection the service and others like it offer.
For 60 years, Lifeline’s goal has been to ensure that nobody has to face their darkest moments alone, and it has continued to meet this immense challenge by embracing fresh ideas and developing new programs.
On behalf of all Queenslanders, I congratulate the Board of Directors, staff, supporters and thousands of volunteers on this achievement and thank them for giving us 60 years of hope – Sir Alan would be very pleased!
So, thank you, and Happy Birthday! But before I finish up, there is one other special birthday being celebrated this week by someone who has contributed enormously to Lifeline for more than 40 of its 60 years. She is here representing Lifeline Ipswich this evening… Ms Elizabeth Gough, happy birthday to you for this Saturday and congratulations on your dedicated four-decades of service.
Thank you all for being here. Enjoy your evening.