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Launch of Legacy Week 2023, Australian War Memorial, Campbell ACT


Good morning.

Linda and I thank you very much for the invitation to be part of this very special day in our national calendar, when we commence Legacy Week around the country to raise funds to support the families of those who have served.

I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people as traditional custodians of the land we are meeting on and recognise any other people or families with connection to the lands of the ACT and region. I acknowledge their continuing culture and contribution to this region. I’ve said many times that we are blessed to live and work in such a lovely part of the country — from the Namadgi to the south, the Brindabellas to the west, the Molonglo and Murrumbidgee rivers — and I thank the traditional custodians for looking after it, generation after generation.

I also want to acknowledge all our distinguished guests. I won’t run through the names, as is our wont, but say thank you because your presence here today reinforces how important this day and this week are in the national psyche of our country.

I join with Matt [Anderson PSM, Director of the Australian War Memorial] in saying that today's event is in the immediate shadow of the loss of life in two training incidents. Our hearts go out to those families who have lost loved ones.

Legacy is one of the great Australian institutions because it says so much about who we are as Australians. This week therefore is such an important week to the nation.

There is an extra dimension to the week this year as it falls in the Centenary of Legacy. It is a time of great celebration for all involved for what’s been achieved over the years and serves to remind us of the strength of the initial promise that was made to ‘look after the missus and kids’. 

When we think of the four words that we often attribute to the Anzac legacy [mateship, sacrifice, courage and endurance], it is mateship and endurance that sit upfront of Legacy. Not that endurance is hard; it is endurance, as Matt said, with a loving heart to look after families. But to have been successful for 100 years and with a bright future is such an important statement about Legacy.

A commitment to look after families of veterans underpins the work of Legacy Australia to this day. As we know, Legacy has moved with the times, considered where we sit, looked at our recent experiences and broadened its remit, as it should, looking after families in the future.

What has been the secret to Legacy’s success? Its people. The legatees themselves who give of their time to help families, create opportunities and look after kids — Australians with big hearts who have given and supported financially over the last 100 years, or in-kind if that can be done.

I think that promise of more than 100 years ago very much goes to the core of who we are as a people and who we aspire to be in the future. We are a people who care about one another and look out for each other. We lend a hand. We are compassionate in the good days and the bad. It is a richness of spirit, and it is manifested through Legacy.

Legacy is that knock on the door that says: ‘We care. We will look after you.’

As this audience is aware, that ‘knock’ can be life changing.

Earlier this year, Linda and I had the privilege of welcoming members of Legacy to Government House.

To see and hear about the positive difference that Legacy had made to people’s lives was heart-warming, almost overwhelming.

Annabelle, whose husband had been diagnosed with cancer after an eight-month deployment and passed away before their first child was born, said Legacy’s support was life changing — that up until that moment she was too grief-stricken to be able to move forward.

For another, Legacy was there to help following her partner’s diagnosis of PTSD.

Danyan, a young man growing up in a Legacy family, said the Legacy camps enabled him to mix with kids in the same situation as him and that they could help support each other.

And Luke, who said post-service he simply couldn’t function and be there for his family. I will never forget his words to me that day:

‘That promise we talk about, looking after the wife and kids — that’s what Legacy is. Legacy is a family that keeps that promise alive.’

They are recollections of people whose lives have been positively impacted by Legacy, Legatees, and its long approach to doing business in such a compassionate way.

The Legacy badge I am wearing — and that I hope Australians are willing to buy over the next week — is a symbol of the unity and compassion that has lived in the heart of Legacy for 100 years.

It is a small badge, but it has a big impact.

Because our national generosity and support for the widows and children whose loved ones have served our country makes a real difference.

This week, the volunteers will once again be out in force — on sidewalks, in shopping centres and at other locations. Please pass the word on, I know you will — support by donating there in person or online to help Legacy meet its fundraising targets.

It is our time to give back to families who have given so much. After the two recent training incidents, that depth of feeling stares us in the face when people walk out the door.

Later today at Government House we are going to host a reception for the Canberra leg of the Legacy Centenary Torch Relay. Linda and I were delighted to be able to participate in the Wollongong leg of the relay, in my home town, recently.

The support we received, the camaraderie, the happiness of that day was just remarkable. So, can I congratulate all those involved in organising the Legacy Centenary Torch Relay. It has been a magnificent idea, superbly implemented and has reached so many corners of our community. Well done to all of you.

If Legacy is going to shine that torch on our country, then taking it around the country is the best way to do that.

Again, it is a great privilege for Linda and me to be here. We love this week because it is an important part of who we are.

As Matt said, you never take off your uniform. You have a responsibility. And Legacy is the vehicle by which that responsibility can be met.

Congratulations Legacy on your 100th anniversary. We look forward to the relay later today, and best wishes for your fundraising.

Today, at the Launch of Legacy Week 2023, we remember those who sacrificed for us.