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Saturday, 14 September 2019
Government House
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC

Your Royal Highness, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we gather this evening, the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, who have been custodians of this land for some 60,000 to 65,000 years. ‘Tubowgule’,[1] as this part of Bennelong Point where the Sydney Opera House is located is called in local or Indigenous language, means the place ‘where the knowledge waters meet’. A freshwater stream ran down what we call Pitt Street into the saltwater of the Harbour. The mixing of fresh and salt waters created for a rich fishing ground.

As we acknowledge our First Nations’ Elders and leaders, we celebrate the fact that we walk together with them on this ancient land of which they are custodians, signified here in this ballroom by the beautiful gift of Indigenous clapsticks, presented on my swearing-in in May this year, now a State asset and on permanent display in this ballroom.

 This evening, it is my great honour to welcome His Royal Highness, Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex, Chair of the Trustees of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation, as we celebrate 60 years of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award in Australia.

It is, indeed, fitting that we have so many young people and leaders here to celebrate the extraordinary role of this Award in the development of young leaders in our nation.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award in Australia began here in Sydney with the establishment, in 1959, of the first Award Unit at the Sydney Church of England School (otherwise known as Shore).

In 1963 the first-ever Australian Gold Award was presented by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. The presentation was on board Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia, moored off the Sydney Opera House which was, at that time, under construction. Since that time, successive Governors - of which we are honoured to have two present - have had the pleasure, as Patrons, of welcoming HRH The Duke of Edinburgh on numerous occasions, during Royal visits and for the presentation of Gold Awards, of which the Duke continues to be an active and avid champion.

Since 1959, 775,000 young Australians have completed the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.

Through these Awards, these young Australians learn to strive; to achieve; to find purpose, passion and a belief in their own potential, and, as importantly, to pick themselves up after failure, equipping them to take their places as future leaders, change-makers and as productive citizens in our community.

It is, therefore, a great pleasure for me, as Patron of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award (NSW), to thank our Award Leaders and Award Centres for their dedication and encouragement of so many fine young Australians.

Today, the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award in New South Wales encompasses 432 Award Centres with over 1000 Award Leaders each year supporting over 14,000 young people - from a range of cultures and backgrounds - to achieve their Award. I was privileged to meet a number of Gold Award recipients a few weeks ago.

Their stories were inspiring as they told their tales of doing 5-day treks, sailing in the Pacific and climbing mountains, along with their community work, their HSC assignments and just ‘hanging out’ as very young person needs to do.

With 1.8 billion young people worldwide aged 10-24, the largest cohort of young people in the world’s history, facing the myriad challenges of the future, the Secretary General of the International Award Foundation, John May recently said:

‘(Our) experience of most young people show(s) them to be hard- working, interested, engaged in society and to have a genuine desire to make the world a better place …

On an individual level this can make a transformational difference to a young person’s life, on a collective basis, it has the power to bring significant change to wider society.’[2]

The Chair of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award - Australia The Honourable Gary Nairn AO, also recognised the power of this Award, when he stated:

‘Today, the Award reaches into many corners of Australian society, from Indigenous and remote and rural communities to metropolitan areas; from prisons to hospitals to new refugee communities; from schools to universities, to disability groups; and from voluntary organisations to corporations; the Award is truly a leading achievement program available to all young Australians.

Award Holders emerge from the program as confident young citizens with community awareness on both a local and global level.’[3]

To our young people here, and across our State and nation, we look forward to continuing to support you as you strive for excellence, as you ‘dream big’, and as you go on to achieve great things and make a difference in your communities and in the wider world.

On behalf of the people of New South Wales, I thank our young people and our Award leaders for being an important part of this nurturing of our #world-ready[4] leaders of the future.

As we celebrate 60 years of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award in our State and nation, I thank you – all - for your contribution to this extraordinarily inspiring Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award story.

 Thank you.

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