Julian, thank you very much. I also acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet today. I want to say thank you very much, Prime Minister, for your heartfelt words. They’re very sincere and they are shared by all of us here at this bipartisan event.
As the Prime Minister points out, it is a reflection of the importance of the issue, the gravity with which we approach the issue, and the sincere way in which we want to continue to work with many of you as important stakeholders in this battle.
I want to say thank you very much to Julian and to Susan as well. Two, again, wonderful people who have their own experiences. All of us are shaped by those experiences, but to be able to talk publicly about the loss of your dad – which you did, Julian – when you came into this place, it takes a certain bravery. And there are many Australians, including many in this room, that have been able to share their own story of loss – their own impact and their own way in which they’ve been able to respond as a family and as a community to the loss of someone very dear to them.
I want to acknowledge that anniversary and there are many anniversaries that will be commemorated around the country today, of people who have been lost to suicide and way too early in life, in many cases.
Susan, thank you very much for your leadership and for joining together with Julian. The way in which this group works and the way in which our colleagues are represented here today, I think reflects very favourably and very positively on this parliament.
There are a few important people here today that I want to acknowledge, apart from the politicians. I want to say – before I do to Emma McBride, thank you very much Minister for being here, as well as to our Shadow Assistant Minister, Melissa McIntosh, to other MPs. But the most important people that I want to get on to are those who are the award recipients this year. There is a great celebration that takes place on this day and it is the incredible professional work of people around the world, but including here in Australia.
Firstly, Nieves to you, thank you very much for your leadership and for what you are able to do. It’s incredible work. It’s been a very difficult undertaking, I know, from every angle over the course of the last couple of years with COVID. In terms of isolation and communication issues, there are many, many elements to it which have made the work even harder over the course of COVID and I want to acknowledge that.
There is an award recipient here today – in fact, there are three – but I’d like you all, firstly to acknowledge the award recipient for this year, Helen Christensen. I said hello to Helen on the way in. I think she’s trying to hide just across to the side there, but Helen’s been recognised for her work so would you please give her a big round of applause.
The second recipient, I’m advised is Julie Borninkhof, who’s the CEO of PANDA and Dr Kate Gunn for ifarmwell.com, Senior Research Fellow at UniSA, so would you please congratulate those two recipients as well.
Anthony and I have each been given three minutes, so I’m probably at the two-minute-fifty mark, I’ll wind up here.
I just want to say thank you very much to all of those people represented here today that have been on the frontline, in some cases for many years. As I look to some familiar faces in the crowd, you’ve been on this journey and you’ve been in this fight for a long time. You’ve had many successes and many wins but a lot of frustrations as well and I think it’s an incredible effort. Yesterday, we were rightly – as the Prime Minister very ably pointed out – were able to recognise the loss, raise the awareness, make people stick their hand up as the Prime Minister said and give them every encouragement to do that.
But today, just for a moment, I wanted to concentrate on those who are on the front line. Those who work within your organisations, those who are sitting at the end of chats, those who are on the telephones, those who are really with their sleeves rolled up.
This is a bipartisan effort from our perspective. Over the course of COVID – and I note David Coleman’s presence here today as the former minister, there were countless conversations we were involved in as a government over the course of COVID, responding to particular services, areas that were truly in crisis. The way in which we were able to respond to that was through the support of services who were reaching into homes and reaching into the lives of young people, but people right across the community, across the country.
So, today I really want to recognise the stressful work, but the incredibly important work of all of those on the frontline.
It’s a great honour to be here with the Prime Minister to share this occasion with you and again thank you so much for the work that you do and today we recognise World Suicide Prevention Day with a breakfast.
Prime Minister, I’ve already been to the gym, I presume you’ve been out playing tennis already, this morning? But we haven’t had a chance for breakfast yet, so…
Walking the dog!
…oh, you’ve been walking the dog. But thank you all very much for your company today.