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Autumn Investiture ceremonies, Government House

The Governor-General and Mrs Hurley hosted nine Investiture ceremonies at Government House during the week commencing 17th April. At each of those ceremonies the Governor-General delivered some opening and closing remarks.


Opening remarks

This is Ngunnawal Country. Today we are all meeting together on this Ngunnawal Country. We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Elders — past, present and emerging.

Welcome to Government House for what is a very important day in the life of our award recipients and their families and, indeed, our nation.

Today, we recognise those who have made a significant contribution in the advancement of our country and the wellbeing of our communities.

You may be feeling a bit nervous but, please, try to relax — breath, smile and applaud! We want you to enjoy yourselves and remember this day for many years to come.

Today, we are going to acknowledge a number of people from a wide variety of professional fields and endeavours both at the professional and community level. 

There is a remarkable breadth of achievement and diversity on show. 

This room is a microcosm of our community.

The common characteristics of selflessness, ingenuity and hard work — just to name a few — make me enormously optimistic for our future.

Also common among the Order of Australia recipients is that each is here because someone nominated them for recognition.

Our Honours and Awards system has a very important and unique characteristic in that it is a ‘bottom-up’ system. The General Division is not a system where authorities in Canberra reach down into the community and say someone down there has been doing a very good job, we’re going to give them a medal.

People who walk through this door, particularly those who are civilians, are being recognised by their peers. Nominated by their peers because their good work has been seen, noted and considered worthy of recognition.

If we want our Honours and Awards system to reflect who we are as a community, the attributes we admire and who we aspire to be — and I think it must — there’s a simple step we can all take.

I’m going to give you some homework later, so remember that point!

To the families and friends here today – and I know Paul [Singer, Official Secretary] mentioned this to you in his introductory remarks – thank you for what you do.

Not one of the recipients here today would be here if not for the support of loved ones, friends and colleagues. We are extremely grateful for your contribution as well. We know how important the support of family is and how special it is to have you here today.

To the recipients — there’s no room for humility today. We are here to celebrate you. It is your day.

So, please, everyone — enjoy this special occasion.

Let’s reflect on the achievements we are about to hear, celebrate them, and be grateful that these fine Australians have been nominated by their peers.


Closing remarks

We’ve acknowledged each recipient individually. It would be appropriate to do so as a group. Well done and congratulations.

As I said before the ceremony, what we see here is a microcosm of our community. There’s a huge breadth of endeavour and achievement.

This special group has attributes that we can all admire and all be inspired by.

I’d go back to the point I made about our Honours and Awards system being a ‘bottom-up’ system. Who is recognised through our system starts with your nominations.

You know the people in your community, your profession, your business area who are performing at a level worthy of national recognition under our Honours and Awards system.

I need you to nominate them.

Without nominations, we simply cannot acknowledge or see the work that is occurring in our community.

The diversity in our Honours and Awards system is still not where it should be.

The number of women, thankfully, has risen quite considerably and continues to do so and I’m pleased with that, but we need more. We are lacking in Indigenous representation and those coming from a multicultural background.

Work is underway to increase the participation but, as I’ve said, it all begins with a nomination. The Order of Australia should — and must — reflect our community.

Again, my thanks to the families. You, too, are a big part of what is being celebrated today.

Linda and I look forward to catching up with you all and the chance to delight in the achievements of our award recipients.

Congratulations, all.