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Ordinary Seaman Edward 'Teddy' Sheean

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal People, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.

Before I turn to the matter at hand, I want to acknowledge the latest news out of Victoria. On behalf of all Australians, I offer our moral support to our Victorian brothers and sisters. We mourn with the loved ones of those who have lost their lives.

It is my privilege this afternoon to announce that Her Majesty The Queen has approved the posthumous awarding of the Victoria Cross for Australia to Ordinary Seaman Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean.

This morning I spoke with Teddy Sheean’s nephews, Garry Ivory and Grant Sheean, and relayed the news to them. This is a momentous day for the Sheean family. In my conversation with Garry and Grant, their pride and emotion was evident.

It is also a significant moment for all Australians and, as you will hear shortly from the Chief of Navy, the Australian Defence Force and the Royal Australian Navy.

Over the last couple of days many people have heard Teddy’s story for the first time. A young man, serving his nation, who chose certain death over the chance of survival, to try and save his mates in the water.

Many of us have been taken aback by his courage, his commitment to his mates, and his sacrifice. The story is inspiring. It should inspire us.

As we approach the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War it is especially poignant. Teddy Sheean exemplifies the characteristics that our serving men and women have demonstrated in conflicts throughout history and that now define Australia — mateship, endurance, courage and sacrifice.

In remembering Teddy, acknowledging his service and honouring his courage, we also preserve the legacy of a generation that served and shaped our nation.

I am pleased the Chief of Navy has been able to join me today. It is a great Navy day.

My Office will work with the Sheean family and the Navy to arrange an investiture ceremony that befits the magnitude of the award and its significance to Australia. Noting current COVID-19 restrictions and the desire of many people to attend the investiture, we will work to a ceremony in coming months.