Gallipoli Scholarship Fund Reception, Government House
I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal People, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.
Good afternoon, all.
Linda and I are delighted to welcome you to Government House for this Gallipoli Scholarship Fund Reception.
The week has been dominated by Defence-related events, including some graduation ceremonies and an Investiture ceremony here on Tuesday — the posthumous awarding of the Victoria Cross for Australia to Ordinary Seaman Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean.
In my speech at that event I said it was a day to reflect on Teddy’s legacy and what it means to us today.
His story resonates, I think, because we see his qualities in others. Qualities such as selflessness, loyalty and honour. We see them in the people in this room.
I have no doubt these qualities were front of mind in a group of World War 1 soldiers when they visited Gallipoli in 1990. The visit was the catalyst for the creation of the Gallipoli Scholarship Fund.
It is fitting, therefore, this Reception be held today because the mission of the Fund captures so beautifully the sentiments of the past week.
As the Fund’s mission states, ‘Their sacrifice. Your future.’
It is thanks to all of you that both the Fund and its Scholars have a bright future.
Linda and I had hoped to host this reception back in April, but COVID-19 prevented us from doing so.
The news around the pandemic seems to be improving by the day, certainly in Australia, and our events and visits program is again ramping up.
That said, I know it’s been a tough year for the Gallipoli and Bill Hall Scholars. The academic results for Semester 1 were delayed and it was an uncertain time for the scholars. I commend again the Management Committee for putting the welfare of scholars first and bringing forward the second tranche of funds.
I was informed that most of the Scholars had to return home after just a few weeks at university and that, for many, studying remotely brought its own challenges and made first year university that much harder. But, as I have been saying to graduates all week, you succeeded, despite the difficulties. I encourage all Scholars to reflect on your ability to dig deep when you needed to.
All things considered, the Gallipoli Scholarship Fund has had a remarkable year and, amazingly, still managed to introduce some key initiatives:
You’ve extended the eligibility for a Scholarship to those undertaking a career course at TAFE at Degree, Diploma or Advanced Diploma level.
You’ve also extended the eligibility for a Scholarship to direct descendants of New Zealand servicemen and women who have served in any conflict or peacekeeping operation since WW1.
And you’ve introduced six new bursaries: the Bill Hall Bursary for Gallipoli Scholars who have maintained a Distinction average during their first year of study and the Lockheed Martin Australia, Merrylands RSL, Calleo Indigenous, Hall Rotary Club and EY bursaries.
More bursaries means more students will have an opportunity to study. Studying, learning, acquiring skills, applying those skills to meaningful work and making your contribution to society are noble pursuits and help build a stronger Australia.
It is the transformative power of education in action.
I congratulate the Scholars and wish you well for the future.
To the staff at the Fund under the chairmanship of Major General Michael Smith and to the supporters of the Fund — thank you for your vision, your hard work, your generosity and your selflessness.
Let’s all continue to spread the word about this wonderful initiative — the Gallipoli Scholarship Fund.
Thank you, all.