Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Thank you to Uncle Mickey for your warm Welcome to Country.

And thank you, Marko, for those words in support of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine.  The deplorable events taking place there starkly remind us of the blessings with which we are endowed in Australia, and to which our minds should always turn in marking Australia Day.

I warmly welcome you all to Government House for the Australia Day Awards Ceremony. Some of you have travelled a long distance to be here, and I thank you for joining us.

While the pandemic meant we could not meet together closer to Australia Day, I am pleased we can now gather to celebrate what it means to be Australian and to thank all those whose contributions make this a vibrant, inclusive, compassionate and diverse nation.

We have all faced challenging times as the world has grappled with the obstacles presented by COVID-19.

But some among us you have, despite these obstacles, achieved remarkable things.

I have been heartened by the stories of those who were nimble, of people looking for innovative ways to help others, and demonstrating ingenuity in ensuring they could continue to connect with family, with friends and with their communities.

That took resilience and resolve.

The award winners to be announced shortly have demonstrated those qualities and more. You have all had an impact in your communities.

I firmly believe that sense of service has been a hallmark of our development as a nation.

Our history began with the ancient, rich and enduring culture of the first Australians.

Since European settlement in 1836, South Australia has had a proud history of welcoming people from all over the world: European pioneers, post-war migrants seeking sanctuary and a new life, settlers from our near region, refugees from strife-torn countries;

- all bringing diverse perspectives but connected by a collective desire to build a strong nation that provides opportunity and a fair go.

Yet, as we evolve as a nation, our perspectives, attitudes and viewpoints continue to evolve, perhaps no more so than on, and about, Australia Day.

I commend the Australia Day Council for its role in the community conversation about Australia Day, about how it fits with the wider picture both of Australia as it is today and where we want it to be in the future.

One crucial thread of this conversation relates to reconciliation, and the distance yet to be travelled along that road.

As small but what I hope to be symbolically important steps, here at Government House we are embarking on a process of cultural mapping, to learn more about the indigenous history of the land on which this House has stood since 1840.

And, where the flower garden lies just inside the front gate, are being erected a stand of flagpoles where will fly, for the first time permanently at Government House, the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islander flags, proudly alongside our national and state flags.

As Governor, I look forward to playing my proper role in the reconciliation journey, and in the broader conversation about Australia Day, working with you all.

Lastly, I thank the Australia Day Council for coordinating these important awards, and key partners for your support: members of the Corporate Club, South Australian local councils, the Office for Women, and the Multicultural Education and Languages Committee.

I know that those who give of themselves often do not seek recognition and are humbled and somewhat surprised that they have been nominated for an award.

While your contributions are many and varied, you have all seen a need and selflessly given of your time, expertise and energy.

These awards are but one way to say: thank you for what you do. We are proud of your achievements.

Your commitment to others is at the very heart of who we are as a nation and as South Australians.

Thank you.