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Government House, Sydney
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales

Bujari gamarruwa mudgingal babana gamarada Gadigal

Good morning, men, women and friends. I am delighted to welcome you this morning in the language of the Gadigal.

At Government House we acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, who are the traditional custodians of the land on which this building stands. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present, and to all Aboriginal people here today.

We always look forward to welcoming and acknowledging those who make a significant community contribution.   That is particularly so when that contribution is as sustained as yours has been.  Indeed, it is an honour for us here at the House to be part of the launch of your Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Although the celebration of a “Jubilee” has an undoubted provenance in Ancient times, it has a well recorded Biblical history.  In the Jewish tradition, The Jubilee (Yiddish: yoyvl) is the year at the end of seven cycles of the 7 shmita or Sabbatical years where every 7th year farmers in the land of Israel are commanded to let their lands lie fallow.  Despite the inevitable scholarly disputes, it is thought that the Hebrew etymology of Jubilee is a ram or more particularly ram’s horn, which was used to trumpet the beginning of the Sabbatical year. The Hebrew is thought to have been borrowed from an Indo-European language word “yu” meaning “shout for joy” which is more than appropriate to this launch.

This is not just a jubilee-year, it is your diamond jubilee year.  The famous Paul Kelly song reminded us that:

 “From little things big things grow”.[1]

When George Forbes, the General Secretary of The Smith Family placed an advertisement in the Manly Daily in January 1960 inviting women to form a VIEW Club, one wonders whether he envisaged the community it has become today. 15,000 members across Australia, with over 300 clubs nation-wide. 

The establishment of the first club was almost immediate. A group of women met at the home of Mrs Gwen Crozier in Balgowlah Heights and decided to form the first VIEW Club, which was inaugurated on the 30th of March 1960.[2]

Its early growth was significant.  By mid-September 21 clubs had been established and by November there were over 1,000 VIEW Club members.

Just as I find it interesting to research, I also find it fascinating to know what was happening in important years in one’s history.   I would hardly call that fascination a trivial pursuit, which wasn’t invented until 1979, (although I should add that the word trivia came into the lexicon in 1918), but here are few questions that you could find in any pub trivial pursuit competition on a Wednesday night.

  1. In 1960 who was the Australian Prime Minister? (Sir Robert Menzies)
  2. It was an Olympic year – with the games held in what city? (Rome)
  3. Elvis had three top ten hits in Australia – can you name one? (It’s Now or Never, Are You Lonesome Tonight?, I Gotta Know)
  4. What was the biggest dance craze? (The Twist – Chubby Checker)
  5. A new kind of drink container was introduced. What was it? (the aluminum can)[3]

In the ensuing 6 decades VIEW members, including the group today, have:[4]

  • Raised over $40 million dollars for The Smith Family
  • Volunteered well in excess of 3 million hours to The Smith Family
  • Raised awareness of, and advocated for disadvantaged Australian Children and
  • Today, are responsible for sponsoring over 1,400 students on the Learning for Life Program[5]

A contribution that was undertaken in the context of a community of friendship, support and growth. 

We don’t know whether George Forbes was particularly prescient or whether he simply knew how big hearts can work.  That can be seen in the origins of the Smith family itself.  This story was new to me, so for those who know it I trust you will indulge me for a moment.

On Christmas eve 1922, five businessmen walked into a Sydney orphanage carrying armfuls of toys and sweets. They walked out inspired by a single goal: to improve the lives of disadvantaged children in Australia.

When asked who the children could thank, one of the men, preferring to remain anonymous, said “Smith”. “What about the others?” the matron asked. “They’re Smiths too”, replied the man. “We’re all Smiths. We’re The Smith Family.[6]

Their first constitution is titled “SMITH FAMILY JOYSPREADERS UNLIMITED”.

On behalf of the people of New South Wales congratulations on your Diamond Jubilee and thank you for your unstinting service and the contribution you have made to the education of the children of this State and to developing the voice, interests and education of Australian women along the way.

ENDS

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