Thursday, 19 October 2023
Reception for War Widows Day
As patron of the Australian War Widows SA Branch, I am delighted to welcome you to Government House, on this, the first War Widows Day in South Australia.
I am pleased that here at Government House today, there are representatives of the many organisations, community leaders and volunteers whose passion and energy help ensure the wellbeing of veteran’s families.
The day’s commemoration enables us to honour the sacrifice of war widows and widowers, and pay tribute to their support for one another.
It is a way for us to say: we feel your loss; we admire your strength and tenacity; and we have profound respect for the support you gave your loved ones in their service to our nation.
As you know, this day has been chosen as the commemoration as it is the birthday of Jessie Vasey, who founded the War Widow’s Guild of Australia in 1945.
Jessie dedicated her life to bringing war widows together to speak with one voice in the improvement of their circumstances and to seek to ensure widows and families received pensions, social connections, and housing.
From all reports, she assiduously stood up for women and was prepared to take on the politicians of the day to advocate on behalf of women.
Her fervent wish was that war widows could be independent and resilient.
She saw there was strength in sisterhood because no-one else would be able to understand how war widows had to pick up the pieces after the loss of their partners or have to deal with their loved ones’ injuries or on-going health challenges arising from their service.
Now 78 years later, war widows – and increasingly widowers - are being recognised on this special day. Thank you to everyone who made it happen.
I trust you enjoyed the high tea at Ayers House earlier today, and I am looking forward to seeing Parliament House over the road lit up in Royal Blue, your colour.
Today South Australia joins with Western Australia and the ACT in commemorating our inaugural War Widows Day, and Queensland and New South Wales for their second.
I share your hope that one day this will be a national day of commemoration.
I thank the War Widow’s Guild of South Australia for your support of the more than 3,500 war widows and widowers in South Australia.
I am sure Jessie would be proud that you are the continuing custodians of her legacy.
I wish you all well for the future and stand with you as we look towards marking Remembrance Day in a few weeks’ time.