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Legacy Week National Launch, Australian War Memorial, Campbell ACT


Good morning.

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

I would like to acknowledge:

  • Mr Julien Lecomte, Deputy Head of Mission, representing the French Ambassador to Australia
  • Captain Jean-Marc Le Quilliec, Defence Attache, representing the Ambassador of Belgium
  • The Honourable Matt Thistlethwaite MP, Assistant Minister for Veterans' Affairs; and Members of Parliament
  • Vice Admiral David Johnston AC RAN, representing the Chief of the Defence Force and other senior members of the Australian Defence Force
  • Mr Eric Easterbrook OAM, Chairman of Legacy Australia; and Legatees
  • Mr Matt Anderson PSM, Director of the Australian War Memorial; Mrs Sharon Bown, Council Member of the Australian War Memorial, representing the Chairman of the Council of the AWM
  • Corporal Mark Donaldson VC
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a privilege for Linda and me to be with you all for this important event on our national calendar.

The launch of Legacy Week is an opportunity for our nation to demonstrate its support for veterans in a number of ways:

To show its support for families and children whose loved ones have served our country ...

To acknowledge and give thanks for Legacy Australia itself ...

To shine a light on its important work ...

To recognise the outstanding contributions of legatees — people who, I believe, epitomise the best of our characteristics ...

And, to raise awareness of the Legacy Week Appeal including Badge Day.

Your attendance here today says as much – thank you.

In my preparations for today I came across a story that not only goes to the core of Legacy’s work but serves to highlight its evolving nature.

Andrea is an Australian Army veteran; a single Mum raising two kids.

Andrea’s story is extremely confronting.

It is a story of marriage breakdown; violence, intimidation, threats — including to her children — safe houses, financial fraud … indeed, it is a horrible set of circumstances.

Says Andrea: ‘I tried to stay strong for them [my children], but as soon as they went to sleep each night I would break down.’

Into the dark depths of Andrea's life came a torch — support in all its forms — when Legacy arrived at her door.

That knock at the door, that action from a Legatee, symbolises a very powerful sentiment: ‘I care about you, your children, your welfare. I care about all the circumstances you find yourself in and we are here to help you through.'

Little Badge, Big Impact.

And for Andrea, Legacy’s impact was life-changing — emergency food, counselling, financial support for bills and education …

Little Badge, Big Impact.

Next year Legacy Australia celebrates its centenary. It will be a time of great celebration for all involved, and reflection of achievement and effort.

Legacy is also celebrating a significant milestone this year — 2022 is the 80th anniversary of Legacy Fundraising.

Badge Day, of course, is the most visual of Legacy’s many fundraising initiatives.

This year, as Matt [Anderson, Director, Australian War Memorial] has mentioned, after a pause because of the pandemic, Legacy badges will once again be sold on street corners and in shopping centres.

Australians, as we know, from all walks of life will buy and wear them — an action that says, ‘I acknowledge our debt to those who gave their all. I appreciate how difficult it is for those living without someone they always thought would be there.’

Legacy badges may be small but the funds they raise make a big impact in the lives of our veterans’ families.

It’s one of the reasons we’re here today – to draw attention to the Legacy Week Appeal and Badge Day.

I go back to a comment that many of you have heard me say in speeches over a number of years now about the legacy of Anzac.

We often talk of four words: sacrifice, mateship, endurance and courage.

They are four very abstract words. They are difficult to conceptualise and to put into life or into an organisation.

A number of years ago during the Anzac Centenary I tried to put those words into a workable expression. I felt that it had three elements to it.

First, that if you give us a job to do we'll do our best to do it for you. Second, we'll do it in a way to make you proud. And, third, while we are doing it we'll look after our mates and, when we are finished, we'll continue to look after our mates.

To me, Legacy epitomises that Anzac legacy handed to us.

Thank you Legacy for continuing to look after our veterans and their families.

As I said earlier, our Legatees epitomise for me the best of our characteristics as Australians.

To the Legatees here with us today — thank you deeply for what you do for our veterans and their families.

Thank you for your kindness, for your compassion and for your support of those in desperate need.

Not only do you help them, but you give them hope — a precious gift to give to anyone.

It is now my great pleasure to launch National Legacy Week 2022.