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National Memorial Service for Fire and Emergency Services Personnel, 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. 

  • Her Excellency the Hon Dame Annette King DNZM — High Commissioner for New Zealand
  • Mr Michael Goldman — Deputy Chief of Mission; Embassy of the United States of America
  • Senator the Hon Murray Watt — Minister for Emergency Management
  • Senator Tony Sheldon — Deputy Chair, Select Committee on Australia’s Disaster Resilience
  • Commissioner Carlene York APM — Commissioner, NSW SES; President, Australasian Fire Authorities Council
  • Mr Kerry Gregory — Chief Executive, Fire and Emergency New Zealand
  • Fire and Emergency Services personnel from Australia and New Zealand
  • Family, friends and colleagues of the Fire and Emergency Services personnel we honour today
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Good morning.

It is a privilege for Linda and me to participate in this memorial service that honours the courage and sacrifice of Fire and Emergency Services personnel.

Our thoughts today are with the families, friends and colleagues of personnel who have died in the line of duty or passed away from health conditions to which their service contributed, particularly those who have lost loved ones in the past year.

We convey our sympathies to you and hope you gain comfort by being with members of the Fire and Emergency Services family.

Courage and sacrifice are amongst the 26 words that are engraved on the Memorial Wall — words that speak to the role and qualities of the 11 personnel being commemorated today.

Two other words stood out to me.

Why? Because they speak to the reason we hold our Fire and Emergency Services personnel in such high esteem.

‘Community’ and ‘hope’.

Community reminds us of why Fire and Emergency Services personnel choose to do what they do — service before self. It is in their DNA.

They do not do what they do for recognition; they do it because selfless service is what makes them tick and get up each morning.

And, hope — the most wonderful gift to give to someone in danger.

Imagine the sense of relief experienced by someone whose life was under threat at seeing a Fire and Emergency Services member, knowing that they would be okay.

That is called ‘giving hope’.

To the families particularly — I cannot overstate the importance of your loved one’s contribution to making our community stronger.

In my role, with Linda, I have had the great privilege of engaging with thousands of Fire and Emergency Services personnel.

I enjoy their company and hearing about their work — the ups, the downs, the challenges.

They are humble people who have big hearts for the community.

That service sometimes comes at a price as the work is often risky and dangerous.

This morning, at this service, we come together to offer comfort to the families of the 11 members being commemorated today.

To the families of:

  • Station Officer Morgan Cook — Fire and Rescue NSW
  • Chief Superintendent (Retd) Bruce Holz — NSW Rural Fire Service
  • Superintendent Paul Norton — NSW Rural Fire Service
  • Captain Tony Hardy — NSW Rural Fire Service
  • Deputy Captain Randal Macarthur — NSW Rural Fire Service
  • Superintendent Michael Holland — NSW Rural Fire Service
  • Park Air Crew member Richard Oswald — NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
  • Firefighter Wendy Bearfoot — Parks and Wildlife Service at the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Western Australia
  • Senior Firefighter David Young — Tasmania Fire Service
  • Firefighter Craig Stevens — Fire and Emergency New Zealand
  • Station Officer David Van Zwanenberg — Fire and Emergency New Zealand…

...we mourn with you.

Today is a difficult day. Please know that you are surrounded by people who care — people who are here with you today and who will be by your side tomorrow and in the future.

Twenty-two 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 1997.

All 624 names are more than names on a wall.

They were loved family members, friends and colleagues.

They were outstanding members of their community.

They were people whose collective contributions made our communities stronger and gave people hope.

In honouring their service today, we offer comfort to the families who supported them.

And we press on, keeping their spirit alive and never forgetting.

May they rest in peace.