Friday, 26 August 2022

Rod and I are pleased to join you in the beautiful Adelaide Hills to open your 53rd Australia District Convention. Winter on the cusp of Spring is a magic time to be in the Hills, if a little on the chilly side.

Now that the relaxation of COVID-restrictions enables easier travel across borders, I am pleased to welcome our visitors from around Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

The Adelaide Hills is renowned for its magnificent scenery, wine, food and hospitality, and I hope you have time to further experience all these before returning safely.

A convention is an important time to come together, renew bonds and forge new relationships.

You are already connected by your commitment to service, one that transcends borders and undoubtedly comes from the heart.

I thank Kiwanis for its focus on supporting children around the world, and by extension the communities in which they live.

If we can nurture our children, grow their curiosity, give them opportunities to learn and thrive, we can ensure we create robust societies, ready to meet the future with agility, with hope, and with confidence.

There is no shortage of challenges in the world today: poverty, regional insecurity, disease, literacy, hunger, climate change.

It would be too easy to sit back and say these issues are too large and too complex to overcome.

Yet through the commitment and leadership of people such as yourselves, inroads which need to be made, can be made.

One of the strengths of Kiwanis is its network of 600,000 members in more than 80 countries.

You are generous with your time. You are creative with your ideas. You are passionate about making a difference. You share your expertise.

It is worth reminding ourselves of the size of the annual Kiwanis commitment:

  • Members stage more than 150,000 service projects
  • Devote more than six million hours of service, and
  • Raise nearly $US100 million

That has enabled Kiwanis at the local level to restock libraries, create food pantries, purchase medical equipment, and stuff backpacks with school supplies, among a myriad projects.

At the international level, Kiwanis International's 10 year project with UNICEF to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus, saved thousands of lives.

I thank Kiwanis for undertaking this, and other, life-changing and life-saving work.

Your work touches many important areas.

I was particularly interested to learn of the Kiwanis Key Club leadership program in High Schools and the Aktion Club for adults living with disability.

These are addressing important needs in our community by encouraging leadership and fostering inclusion.

I would urge you all to continue to encourage our young people to recognise that good leaders can be found everywhere, and that leadership is potentially in each and every one of them.

After all, leadership is not the sole remit of officer holders, managers, or members of Parliament.

Empowering others to lead is possibly one of the most important investments we can make.

In closing, let me say that I know that one of the important aspects of the Kiwanis is to have fun as you serve others.

I am sure that will be so as you Rock the Hills in 50s Style on Saturday.

It now gives me immense pleasure to declare the Kiwanis Australia District Convention open.