Friday, 6 May 2022

I am delighted to join you today for the Foodbank SA Women of Influence Luncheon, bringing together two of my great loves: Foodbank, as SA patron, and gender equality - one of my priorities as Governor which is likely to be achieved when women of influence exercise this.

Today is an occasion to celebrate the work and achievements of Foodbank SA, an organisation that is woven deeply into the fabric of our community and that embodies qualities that we hold dear – helping others and supporting people who are going without.

The relationship between Government House and the hunger relief charity spans more than 20 years, with my predecessor former Governor The Honourable Sir Eric Neal AC launching Foodbank South Australia in 2000.

As Foodbank South Australia’s fourth Governor-Patron, I am delighted to continue this special association with the organisation and share its goal to ensure all Australians have access to food, no matter what their circumstances.

For many South Australians, Foodbank is the first line of defence against hunger.

Last year, Rod and I visited Foodbank South Australia’s Edwardstown distribution warehouse and saw first-hand with Greg and Simon the impact and reach of the organisation.

We were heartened by the efforts we saw by the volunteers and staff to address the food insecurity that affects the some 135,000 South Australians who rely on Foodbank each month.

We also had the opportunity to visit the co-located ‘Food Hub’, which is set up to resemble a general store and offers free fruit, vegetables and bread, as well as other items at heavily subsidised prices.

During the visit, I was surprised, and chastened, to learn that demand for assistance from Foodbank had risen by 25 percent across its nine Food Hubs in South Australia compared to the previous 12 months.

I was also surprised to hear that Beulah Park remains the busiest of Foodbank’s nine Mobile Food Hub routes.

Heightened vulnerabilities within our society have been exposed by the social and economic crisis associated with COVID‑19, and subsequent increases in the cost of living.

Economic indicators suggest that this trend is only going to continue over coming years.

What is not surprising is the pressure placed on the already stretched charity sector as a result of the shift of clientele, additional demand for food relief, the increased cost of grocery items and the rising cost of transport, the latter being particularly acute at the moment.

The significant increase in community members who identify as food insecure, including a new cohort of traditionally financially secure people, demonstrates why Foodbank deserves – and needs – our continuing support.

Like myself, the women who you will hear from today will have experienced challenges, many of which they will have risen to meet, while some will still be ahead.

As women of influence, we have both the ability and social responsibility to help those in our communities who need it.

Through the generosity of time, resources and compassion exemplified by everyone here today, we can help Foodbank ensure that no South Australian should have to wonder where they can find food for their family in times of crisis.

We can help to ensure no South Australian gets left behind.

On behalf of all South Australians, I sincerely thank the Foodbank SA board, staff and its wonderful volunteers for their invaluable work in our community.

And I wholeheartedly thank donors, partners and supporters of Foodbank, many who are represented here today, whose contribution ensures Foodbank can continue to support those people who are going without.