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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 12305

Address at Volunteer Awards Ceremony Cronulla Leagues Club, Sydney

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 14/08/2001

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 12305

Subjects: Volunteerism


To Bruce Baird, ladies and gentlemen. It is a real pleasure for me to share the platform this afternoon with Bruce, particularly as we are having a little ceremony, an occasion, to honour and thank and acknowledge the people who really when the chips are down really hold our society and our community together. And that is the hundreds, indeed tens indeed hundreds of thousands of Australia who for no reward other than the satisfaction of helping their fellow Australians, no reward other than the satisfaction of bring a facility to a community, of getting a sporting activity going, they are prepared to give up their time to build a happier and more cohesive society.

Australia in many ways is the greatest volunteer society in the world. One of the reasons for it is that because in our early days we had large distances and small populations and no help from outside, we really had to club together and to make things work in local communities. And out of that necessity we have built a fantastic volunteer spirit and every level of Australian life that voluntarism, and every stage in our history has been an example of Australians to the rest of the world.

It';s not often remarked upon but when you think of the size of our population we probably raised the highest volunteer army in history in World War I and all of our people were volunteers. They volunteered in a very tragic conflict and many and didn';t return. But that spirit of voluntarism in happier circumstances is to be found in ever area of our community and my purpose in coming here today is not to make a political speech but simply on half of the government, of myself and on behalf of your fellow Australians to express my respect, my admiration and my profoundly held view that without the volunteer spirit that is represented here from the Sutherland Shire in this large gathering this afternoon, without that our society would be poorer, our facilities would be less adequate, and lives would be less happy and the opportunities that people have, particularly the young and the comforts for older people, a lot of those opportunities and a lot of those comforts would disappear.

We';re honouring people this afternoon who';ve risked their lives on occasions to help others. We';re honouring people that have spent countless hours comforting others. We';re honouring people that spent countless cold Saturday mornings assisting local sporting teams. We';re honouring people in so many different ways that have helped their communities and have risked and have given everything. And I just want to say to as Prime Minister I';m very proud of the volunteer spirit of our country, it';s everywhere. And Bruce is right in what he said about the Olympic Games and the spirit of the volunteers that was so much part of it, it gave it an edge, and gave it a distinctive Australian character that you wouldn';t have found in other parts of the world. And it is therefore a very special occasion, an opportunity for me to say thank you, to honour what you';ve done for Australia and to rejoice in the fact that we are now as we have been through all our history a nation that has always been able to overcome other distances and work together. The great Australian capacity to work together in adversity, I call it mateship, others may call it something else, I think you all know what it means and that is that if you';ve got a challenge you all work together and solve that problem and help your fellow Australians, your neighbours and your friends and it gives us a better and a happier community and I';m delighted to be part of this very important ceremony to extend my personal thanks and the thanks of your fellow Australians for what you are doing through our nation.

Thank you.

Transcript 12305