Good Morning. I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, the Gunditjmara people and pay my respects to elders past, present and future.
I’d like to acknowledge the mayor, Cr Robert Anderson and councillors present here this morning. I’d also like to acknowledge the Australia Day ambassador Mr Duncan Stalker, a man who needs no introduction to many of those here today.
What a beautiful morning to be here in Warrnambool as we celebrate what it is to be an Australian and everything that makes this country great.
The date we celebrate our great nation has been controversial of late, I don’t want to reflect too much on that – but I do believe it’s important to acknowledge and speak about our past while celebrating our present and looking towards the future.
Whatever the date – I believe it’s important we celebrate, together, as a nation.
That’s what we see here this morning. We have paid tribute to where we have come from and recognised the rich history and culture of the first people of this land – which we are all now lucky enough to call home.
Working with the local indigenous community before I began this role, I developed an interest and deep respect for indigenous history, language and customs. It always made me incredibly proud to see the community, especially the youth, embracing their culture and displaying it proudly at events like today.
I believe it’s critically important the indigenous culture of this country is celebrated by everyone.
Today we also acknowledge our present, recognising the people in our community who go above and beyond each and every day to make this such a great place to live.
I’m sure it was a hard job for the panel to choose the winners given there are so many people in this community who go out of their way to do something to make life better for someone else.
One of my favourite part of the day’s celebrations looks to our future – as people from all corners of the globe take the final step, make the pledge and become Australian citizens.
The citizenship ceremony is symbolic of the nation we are today – proudly embracing those who have chosen to make this country their home and joining with them to celebrate their culture and heritage. To borrow from the famous song – we are one, but we are many, we are Australian.
Today is the day to reflect on what we can be proud of as a country, to recognise this country had a long, rich history and culture prior to the arrival of European settlers and to look to our future as a proudly multicultural nation that embraces and celebrates the people who chose to make this country their home.
It is the day for all of us to re-commit to making Australia an even better place for the future – for ourselves, our families, our neighbours, our communities and our region.
I want to thank everyone here for coming along today to celebrate our great nation and I offer my congratulations to the award recipients and my warmest welcome and congratulations to those who are becoming Australian citizens today.