Yalari Chairman, Mr Bruce Davidson; Founder, Mr Waverley Stanley AM; Managing Director, Ms Llew Mullins; staff and volunteers; educators; sponsors and donors; ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and to all First Nations people with us this evening.
Yalari is one of this State’s great success stories and at the outset, I congratulate and thank Waverley Stanley, his wife Llew Mullins, and the wonderful team of supporters, advocates and benefactors who have shared their vision for the past 18 years.
Together, they have created a secure pathway to a brighter future for Indigenous children in rural and remote communities across Australia.
When I was sworn in as Governor, I made a public pledge that, with Graeme’s support, I would be a Governor for all Queenslanders.
In particular, I pledged to focus on promoting literacy in our Indigenous communities – and I could not have wished for a more committed ally than Yalari in pursuing this goal.
Waverley’s own story is a shining example of what can happen when a dedicated teacher identifies and nurtures potential in a student.
For Waverley, Rosemary Bishop was that teacher, and I know the whole Yalari community joined him in mourning her death in May this year at the age of 89.
She was a passionate and inspirational educator and mentor, and Yalari’s Rosemary Bishop Indigenous Education Scholarships program will honour her dedication well into the future.
It is humbling to reflect on the milestones that have been reached in Yalari’s 18-year journey to date.
What emerges most clearly is the unwavering belief and vision, from the very outset when the first fundraising dinner in Sydney raised $300,000 and the first three Yalari students enrolled at schools in Toowoomba.
That vision was such an inspiration that, before its fifth birthday, Yalari had attracted the support of the federal government and major donors; Yalari students had gone on to enrol in universities around Australia; the number of partner schools was growing steadily across the country; and the then Governor-General, Dame Quentin Bryce, had accepted the role of Patron.
Today, Yalari has a permanent home, hundreds of alumni, an army of volunteers, and a network of Student Support Officers who provide a holistic program of care to ensure student success and wellbeing.
But one thing that has not changed in 18 years is the fundamental focus on Indigenous children – indeed, it’s there as a constant reminder in the very meaning of ‘Yalari’ in the Birri Gubba language: ‘child’.
This will continue to inspire us all as Yalari walks side by side with each student towards the long-term goal of generational change.
Graeme and I are delighted to welcome you all here this evening to a Reception that came about after a conversation I had with the President of The Queensland Club, Dr Ted McArdle earlier this year.
It just goes to show the importance of supporting organisations by raising awareness of them through our extended networks, by simply talking about them, as well as through donations and fundraising.
We hope you enjoy the warm hospitality of Government House.