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Monday, 26 September 2022
Government House Sydney
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC KC, Governor of New South Wales

Bujari gamarruwa

Diyn Babana Gamarada Gadigal Ngura

In greeting you in the ‘Sydney language’ of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gather, I pay my respects to their Elders past, present, and emerging, and to the Elders of all parts of this country from which you have travelled to be here this evening.

Friends and distinguished guests,

It has been nearly three years since we last celebrated BBM Youth Support’s annual scholarships in person. Three years in which uncertainty crept into just about every facet of life, when there has been much commentary around a workforce changed forever, and where disrupted supply chains have affected productivity in critical areas of our economy.  

These challenges have given the community pause for reflection, to consider how best to continue to operate in, and benefit from, a global economy whilst, at the same time, re-setting our skillset at home.

Also on our doorstep are the challenges of a changing climate and an environment whose diversity and sustainability are under threat. Then there have been the devastations wrought by drought, bushfires, and floods.

These have been hard lessons for the whole community, not least for those directly effected in regional communities and in the agricultural sector. It is, therefore, with pride and gratitude that tonight we acknowledge the work of BBM Youth Support, who have used these challenges as an opportunity to recalibrate its core vision and mission.

This is not the first time that BBM has changed focus in response to prevailing circumstances. Founded in 1924, the Big Brother Movement’s vision was to sponsor young British migrants to Australia (the ‘little brothers’) by pairing them with mentors, (the “Big Brothers”) in the regional communities where they were to work.

In 1983, with the changing face of migration, the sponsorship scheme came to an end. In response, BBM changed its focus to an overseas scholarship scheme allowing young Australians to develop their careers and international industry networks.

The circumstances confronting us today – the pandemic, natural disasters, and the demands of a modern, global world where economic and environmental sustainability are critical to our future – have called for another adaptation. Hence, BBM has turned its focus to sustainability, aligning its scholarships with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. To this end, BBM has rebranded its scholarship program: ‘Global Footprints’.

It is no secret that Australia is suffering from a skills shortage, something we see in the regions all the time. BBM’s own research has laid plain the dearth of overseas scholarships for Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) students, with some 200 academic scholarships available for overseas study, with nothing comparable for those in trades and vocational agricultural pursuits.  

BBM is also to be congratulated for refining the scope of its scholarships to include only applicants with VET qualifications in agriculture, trades, and horticulture. In many ways, there is a sense here of ‘coming full circle’. Those original recipients of the Big Brother Movement who came out from Great Britain often worked in the same industry categories recognised in these awards tonight.

As proud Patrons, Dennis and I applaud Sueellen and her team for taking these proactive and practical steps and for BBM continuing its investment in Australia’s future.  

I also thank and congratulate the VET sector, the industry groups, and small businesses, some of whom are here with us tonight, who have trained and assisted the recipients on their journey to this point.

To our scholars: 

You are here tonight because you are most deserving of a BBM scholarship and, as the inaugural recipients in the Global Footprints program, you carry the banner for this new phase of BBM and the alumni who will follow you. You can each be proud of your achievements and every person in this room is proud of you.

It is now time for you to use your curiosity and passion and the mentorship available to you, to contribute to a more sustainable future in your chosen endeavours. We look forward to your return, when you will enrich the communities and the industries you come from with the experiences, the skills, and the knowledge your travels will instil.

Tonight is an historic occasion: the first awards of the rebranded BBM scholarships, the first event in the House at the conclusion of the period of mourning for Her late Majesty The Queen, the first reception held in the House in the reign of the new King, and the first occasion at Government House to exclaim Long Live the King. 

Congratulations again to our worthy scholarship recipients.

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