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Launch of the 'Voices of Veterans Project', Government House, ACT


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

Good evening, all, and welcome to Government House.

Linda and I are delighted to have you here and to host a reception for a Veteran-led project that raises awareness of a very important issue in our community at the present time.

'Voices of Veterans’ helps support the mental health and positive wellbeing of our Veterans.

Too many Veterans continue to struggle with their mental health, sometimes with tragic outcomes. It is our collective moral imperative to care for our Veterans.

Thank you, all, for your work and achievements to date. Your attendance demonstrates your commitment to Veterans and their families.

One of the things that attracted Linda and me to Mike Armstrong’s 'Voices Project' was the innovative approach he was taking, including the use of molasses!

‘Voices of Veterans’ helps normalise the conversations around mental illness by creating artworks and sharing them to encourage discussion around the experience of living with PTSD.

The art provides an insight into the darkness of mental illness and the healing that may be found through effective treatment.

The molasses is a metaphor for darkness and a strikingly powerful visual representation. When you see Veterans opening their Cams to reveal a body covered in molasses, no words are necessary. The image, the art, speaks for itself.

Therein lies the beauty and positive impact of the ‘Voices of Veterans Project’. The material may be confronting, but normalising mental health will go a long way in supporting people in need and making our nation stronger.

I’m pleased to hear that momentum of the ‘Voices Project’ is building and that the exhibition will travel after its first showing in Canberra next month. I think it is extremely important to put it in the hands and eyes of others. Veterans and veterans’ communities will able to participate in a variety of arts workshops, including Sculpting.

Further, the ‘Voices of Veterans Project’ in partnership with the Australian National Veterans Arts Museum will seek funding to support creative endeavours in Veterans’ communities. This is a powerful coming together of projects.

We look forward to next month’s opening of the ‘Voices Project’ in Canberra.

Mike, thank you for driving the Project. Your enthusiasm is infectious and your artistic talent amazing. On behalf of all of us here, thank you for your determination to enliven your experiences with a mission to help others out of the darkness.

Our Veterans have served and, in many cases, have suffered for us. We must support them. The ‘Voices of Veterans Project’ does that.

It is a pleasure for Linda and me to help shine a light on PTSD through the ‘Voices Project’. It is important to us that we do.

We thank the other artists for their commitment and support of the Project and the donors, supporters and philanthropists for their generosity and kindness. These things don’t happen out of thin air.

It is a great pleasure for me, with Linda, to launch the ‘Voices of Veterans Project’. Let’s celebrate some magnificent photography; photography with a very powerful message.