Wednesday, 20 September 2023
Resilient Australia Awards Reception
Rod and I are delighted to welcome you to Government House for the Resilient Australia Awards.
Following on from your discussions today about how to advance the protection of cultural and personal heritage after a disaster, it is fitting that we are here in the ballroom of the oldest Government House in Australia.
We are surrounded by not only the features that tell the story of our Constitutional monarchy, but also artworks that tell the story of who we are today, including the perspectives of our First Australians.
I am loathe even to contemplate the possibility, but the destruction of this House would be a great loss not only to our heritage, but to our community spirit because these are symbols of us.
But, of course, others have had, not only to contemplate, but to confront such an outcome.
My own predecessor Governors faced bushfires at Marble Hill, the former Vice‑Regal summer residence, on six occasions before the building was completely destroyed on the seventh occasion in the Black Sunday bushfire in January 1955.
Across the other side of the world, when parts of Windsor Castle were consumed by a raging fire in 1992, we not only felt Her Late Majesty’s sorrow, but the impact on centuries of heritage.
Then, as in other disasters closer to home, we have witnessed community action, co-operation, and renewal.
Resilience has been a hallmark of Australia’s history, of learning to live within a beautiful yet harsh environment; a land where floods, droughts, fires, earthquakes, or emergencies and hazards regularly test our resilience.
Each time, at the heart of our response are people; people who come together, help each other, work to rebuild and prepare for the future. They enable us to keep going.
I have been uplifted when experiencing this community spirit in action in my Vice Regal role.
This was particularly inspiring when visiting communities in the Riverland where people and businesses are picking themselves up from the River Murray floods.
Likewise talking to communities in the Adelaide Hills, Kangaroo Island and the Yorke Peninsula who are determinedly bouncing back after the devastating bushfires of several years ago.
At their core, is a deep respect for each other and a passion to help out, get things done and build resilience for the future. In that way, we are always better prepared, can recover and importantly heal.
In the face of our changing climate, disaster preparedness is an even more important part of how we tackle and seek to prevent more frequent severe events. It is an imperative.
The awards today are not only a reminder of the power of people, but also a way to thank those who are making South Australia a safer and more resilient place to live.
Across the community, there are many sectors showing leadership and collaboration to ensure the community is at the heart of any preparedness and response.
I congratulate them for doing so, particularly as much of this work is often behind the scenes and in many instances, harnesses the commitment not only of organisations and businesses, but also of volunteers.
I thank the SAFECOM team for co-ordinating the awards and the judging panel for their exacting task.
I send my best wishes for our award winners to do well in the National Resilient Awards later this year.
Importantly, I thank those who took the time to nominate an individual or organisation because by highlighting achievement we can encourage others.
Because Resilience is not the sole remit of governments, or emergency services.
It is “everyone’s business”.
To the award winners today, thank you for what you do.
Your work is innovative, inspiring, and greatly appreciated.