Tuesday, 30 April 2024

Operation Flinders Reception

Rod, and I as patron of Operation Flinders, welcome you to Government House to say a heartfelt thankyou to the volunteers. You are the soul of the organisation.

While you all come from different backgrounds and bring various life experiences to Operation Flinders, you share a common passion - a dedication to transforming lives, supporting young people and enabling them to thrive.

Having spent two days at Yankaninna Station myself in September last year, I can attest to the impressive set up which represents many hours of hard work by the staff and volunteers, albeit discreetly.

As I wrote in a letter to Kevin Scarce after my visit, the experience was genuinely humbling.

Seeing positive change in the lives of young people developing before my eyes made me truly proud to be the Operation’s patron.

I keep on the bookshelf in my study, a small rock one young man gave me while we were standing in a creek bed chatting about his abseiling experience and how he overcame his fear. It has that beautiful blue green tinge of copper. I hesitated to accept it, but the young man was obviously keen that I should and assured me that he had found another one, just as nice, which he was keeping for himself.

The Flinders Ranges is a beautifully rugged environment. It’s an excellent backdrop against which to be taken out of your comfort zone.

In such a place, you will need to dig deep to find something within yourself, to see what’s possible.

As I found when I abseiled – a first for me - down the rockface using my left arm, a frozen right shoulder preventing a more conventional descent. I had put the rock I had been given in my pocket for courage and assured myself that if teams of young people could do it, I could too. And I did, just as they had done, and just as they continue to do with your expert guidance.

Importantly, through this physical and mental immersion, young people can gain a new sense of purpose. They can come to the realisation that they can navigate their own futures and discover there’s strength in leaning on others.

And through the Next Step program, young people have the opportunity to undertake further development.

Impressively, the 10,000th young person will participate in Exercise 2 in June. Congratulations!

But the story of Operation Flinders is best told, not through statistics, but individually, in the words of the young people themselves. I quote:

"I learnt that the only thing stopping me is mentality and a change in perspective can change the whole experience, and I’m glad I can take that away with me to my life."

"I’m trying really hard and I’m going to keep trying. The support of the Next Step program means a lot. Thank you for not giving up on me."

"Keep pushing, pursue your ambitions and admire the small things. Walk one step in front of another, you can find the light at the end of a dark tunnel, even if you’re afraid of the dark."

This has all been made possible because of you, the volunteers and staff. Your contributions are vital to the program’s success.

Your outstanding efforts in myriad roles provide a window through which young people can see what might be possible and discover self-worth.

Thank you for being there in the field setting up camp, leading teams or being responsible for the safe and efficient conduct of an exercise.

Thank you for being there at the Edwardstown HQ packing rations, picking up supplies, loading stores, making repairs, providing administration support.

I know you all gain much from giving back to our community. In that way you are helping to build a strong, caring society, where everyone has a sense of belonging.

Your efforts are noticed and are very much appreciated.

I am sure the founder of Operation Flinders, the late Pamela Murray-White would have been proud of how staff and volunteers past, present and future are helping and will help our young people “step into a brighter future”.

Coming events