United Nations Association of Australia QLD Division 75th Anniversary Peacekeeping March and Ceremony
Representing the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Councillor Angela Owen; United Nations Association of Australia Queensland Division President, Ms Claire Moore and Past President, Mr Clem Campbell AM; Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans’ Association President Mr Michael Murray, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the original custodians of the lands of Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and pay my respects to Elders, past, present and emerging. I would also like to extend my respect to any First Nations people here with us today.
At the ANZAC Day Dawn Service, a month ago, we gathered here at the Eternal Flame of Remembrance, to honour all of the brave individuals who served or continue to serve our country and strive for liberty and harmony.
This morning, I am proud to return to this sacred place—following the stirring Peacekeepers March—to pay special tribute to the over 65,000 Australian military and police personnel, past and present, who for 75 years, have served under the blue flag of the United Nations.
This year’s theme for International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers—“People Peace Progress: The Power of Partnerships”—reinforces the fact that we are stronger and more effective when we come together.
While our complex world today may appear vastly different to that of 1945—when the UN first came into existence in the wake of World War II—our inter-connectedness only serves to highlight how much countries still depend on the support of others to overcome diverse challenges, and build a better future for their citizens.
Our incredible, courageous peacekeepers—uniformed and civilian—are defined by their readiness to put their own lives at risk to help others, supporting the UN in its quest to ensure global stability, and to provide essential humanitarian assistance to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
Yet, every peacekeeping mission has unique requirements, difficulties and dangers.
These dedicated men and women work in countries that are ravaged by the hostile actions of humans or the uncontrollable might of Mother Nature. They clear unexploded landmines or assist in the aftermath of natural disasters. They maintain security in countries where conflict has put pressures on democracy. They lend their expertise to treat the wounded or rebuild vital communications.
Sadly, over these 75 years of involvement, Australian lives have been lost.
Many of you are here today because you are honouring someone you know who has served for peace. During my time at Queensland Health, I was privileged to meet some of these amazing people, who were members of the Defence Reserves assisting in the Solomon Islands.
Unfortunately, though, some of those who return from service will be significantly affected by their experiences. We must therefore support those who return from non-warlike operations, with the same compassion and understanding we should show to those who return from conflicts.
This morning, we thank all of those special people who have pursued peace—that most fragile and precious of states—and in doing so have transformed lives.
I also thank the United Nations Association of Australia Queensland Division for holding this annual event, and for reinforcing the important values and work of the UN on the global stage, as we strive towards a future where everybody feels safe.