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National Memorial Service for Fire and Emergency Services Personnel, National Emergency Services Memorial, Parkes 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 morning.

It is a privilege for Linda and me to be with you and to participate in the National Memorial Service for Fire and Emergency Services Personnel – the only Memorial Service to bring together the fire and emergency services sector in Australia and New Zealand.

Today we remember and honour those Fire and Emergency Services Personnel who lost their lives as a result of undertaking emergency services duties. We extend our condolences to their families, friends and colleagues.

Our Fire and Emergency Services Personnel have been very visible in recent times – on the front lines in the wake of natural disasters, selflessly protecting the community. They have been ably supported by dedicated teams in headquarters, away from the public and media gaze.

Three of the 13 Fire and Emergency Services Personnel we are commemorating today lost their lives on fire and flood grounds. The other 10 personnel passed away from health conditions to which their service contributed. Each chose to help others and to serve and protect the community.

When Australians and New Zealanders see Fire and Emergency Services Personnel, they are reassured. Help has arrived. They are known to be special people.

In my role, Linda and I have been privileged to meet so many Fire and Emergency Services Personnel. Their collective efforts, whether on the front lines or behind the scenes, make our communities safer and stronger.

At this solemn annual Memorial Service it is critically important that we come together to offer comfort to the families of the 13 members being commemorated today. To the families of:

  • Kenneth Wood – ACT Fire and Rescue
  • Colin Hungerford, Maxwell Beard and Michael Sherwin – Fire and Rescue NSW
  • Cletus Moran – NSW Rural Fire Service
  • Colin Snowden and Wayne Stubbs – Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service
  • Merryl Dray – QLD Fire and Emergency Services
  • Louise Hincks – SA Country Fire Service
  • Maxwell Hammill and Rodney Smith – SA Metropolitan Fire Service
  • Andrew Kerr and Michael Dennison – Tasmania Fire Service

... I know this day, this occasion, is difficult.

Please know that you are surrounded by people who care, people who mourn with you and people who stand by you. The Fire and Emergency Services family is tightknit.

Our nation is grateful for the service of your loved one and stronger for it.

Twenty-four names have been engraved on to the Memorial Wall since this corresponding Service last year. They include those being commemorated today, as well as historical additions dating as far back as 1892.

All 602 names are more than names on a wall. Yes, they were loved family members, friends and colleagues. But in addition to that they lived lives that demonstrated a big heart for humanity and a richness of spirit that abounds in Australia.

Their lives had meaning. Their lives were important. As members of the Fire and Emergency Services family they made an outstanding contribution to Australia and New Zealand.

We remember them.

We honour them.

We will never forget them.

May they rest in peace.