The Pyjama Foundation Afternoon Tea
Director-General, Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs, Ms Deidre Mulkerin; The Pyjama Foundation Founder and CEO, Mrs Bronwyn Sheehan OAM; Board Members and Executives; Pyjama Angels; carers; sponsors and supporters; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the original custodians of the lands of Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and extend respectful greetings to their Elders, past, present and emerging, including any First Nations people here today.
It is a pleasure to welcome you all to Government House this afternoon, to celebrate 18 incredible years of The Pyjama Foundation, and the immensely valuable contribution this organisation is making to the lives of children in foster care.
As Governor, I am proud to lend my support, because—along with Graeme—I am deeply aware of the transformative power that education, and particularly literacy, can have on all aspects of people’s lives, including health.
This is even more crucial for the young children in our society whose beginnings have been marked by significant struggles involving upheaval and trauma.
Our extraordinary foster carers do so much to support the emotional and practical needs of those young people in their care, and I take this opportunity, as we approach National Carers Week, to pay tribute to their outstanding, generous efforts.
Yet, we know that foster carers can only do so much to assist with dedicated learning, and this is where The Pyjama Foundation’s amazing Pyjama Angels, sprinkle their unique, life-changing magic.
Every week across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, these remarkable volunteers spend time with children living in care, building trust, encouraging a “love of learning” by sharing books, but also by being advocates, mentors and champions.
For many young people, this special relationship ensures they learn to believe in their own abilities and capabilities, giving them the confidence to imagine a more positive future, where they can follow their dreams.
Often, those young people who have been guided by a Pyjama Angel develop a strong desire to give back to their communities themselves, and as a result, our entire system becomes stronger and more compassionate.
Of course, magical though this concept seems, it did not just materialise! Almost two decades ago, the inspirational Bronwyn Sheehan OAM had the courage and drive to start the Pyjama Foundation, which now supports more than 1,300 children each week—amounting to 103,000 hours of help provided to children in care nationally.
That represents a lot of books being read— two million at last count!
On behalf of all Queenslanders, I therefore sincerely thank the Board and staff of the Pyjama Foundation, its ambassadors, sponsors and many volunteers for delivering Bronwyn’s vision with such success.
And to all the Pyjama Angels with us, and out there, thank you!
The much-loved Australian children’s author Mem Fox said: “The fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading” and I think this encapsulates the enormous impact your influence is having.
Graeme and I extend our warmest welcome to you all, and hope you enjoy your afternoon at Government House.