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Launch of Outward Bound Australia Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Open Award Centre, Tharwa, ACT


I begin by acknowledging that Outward Bound Australia sits on the land of the Ngunnawal People here in the ACT. If you’re a Canberran, you’ll know what a beautiful part of the country this is. We thank them for looking after it for us, for generation after generation, and pay our respects to their elders past and present.

Good afternoon, all.

Linda and I are delighted to be at Outward Bound Australia for today’s launch of the Open Award Centre, part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.

His Royal Highness, who passed away in April of this year, had a profound impact on the lives of people, not least on the more than 775,000 Australians who have participated in the International Award since it began in Australia in 1959.

The launch of the Centre is significant for Outward Bound Australia as it is now able to enrol participants to deliver all components of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.

More young Australians will have access to one of the best youth development programs in the world under the auspices of one of the great outdoor education organisations, Outward Bound Australia.

There’s much to be excited about, and I congratulate all involved.

In addition to opening the Centre, Linda and I wanted to visit today for a couple of other reasons.

We wanted to see how the rebuild and recovery was coming along after the fires in 2020 and then the pandemic, and to thank everyone involved for ensuring that Outward Bound stayed on its feet.

We also wanted to learn more about ‘Reimagining Outward Bound’, O-B’s plans for the future.

The Black Summer bushfires inflicted a heavy toll on Outward Bound, with three of its five operational areas across Australia destroyed by fires.

Programs had to be cancelled, there were additional risks from tree falls, erosion and flooding – all added to an increase in costs to scout new areas for safe camping and hiking.

When I think about what Outward Bound has been through these past couple of years and the way it has bounced back, I’m inspired.

You established an Open Award Centre.

You renewed and created new partnerships with Canberra schools.

In 2020-21, you successfully ran 88 programs with 3284 participants.

I could go on.

In the direst of times all involved with Outward Bound have stepped up.

As the O-B motto states: ‘To serve, to strive, and not to yield.’

Eight words. Powerful words. Words that inspire movement and action.

You might have been on your knees, but you weren’t out.

What you have achieved these past couple of years is inspiring and helps instil confidence as the organisation continues to evolve and reimagine.

I’m informed that a new traineeship program is in the wings, a return to the Victorian snowies in autumn and spring is imminent, and community programs to help support disadvantaged groups will resume shortly.

Strengthening partnerships with the community is key. I’m delighted to see that a number of Community Awards will be presented as part of this launch event.

Today, though, is about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Open Award Centre.

Outward Bound can now enrol and manage participants through their whole Award journey.

Significantly, the Centre provides access to the Award for those participants who would otherwise not have the opportunity to commence or complete their Award.

For example, students whose schools do not run the Award, or school leavers who can no longer be supported after their graduation.

Congratulations to all involved with Outward Bound and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Open Award Centre – the Board, staff and broader network of supporters, partners and donors.

The next few years promise to be very exciting for O-B and the Centre, and I look forward to hearing of many positive outcomes.

It is now my great pleasure to declare the Outward Bound Australia Duke of Edinburgh’s Open Award Centre open!