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Speech at presentation of Royal Humane Society of Australasia Awards, Canberra.



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SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY

MAJOR GENERAL MICHAEL JEFFERY AC CVO MC (Retd) GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA PRESENTATION OF ROYAL HUMANE SOCIETY OF AUSTRALASIA

AWARDS

GOVERNMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA THURSDAY, 24 JUNE 2004

Mick Keelty, APM, Commissioner, Australian Federal Police Major General Peter Dunn, AO, Commissioner, Emergency Services Bureau Federal Agent Vince Pannell, Team Leader Recognition and Ceremonial Team, Australian Federal Police Mr Colin Bannister, OAM, Director and Honorary Secretary of the Royal Humane Society of Australasia Ladies and gentlemen

This is one of those very special functions where we honour the people who ensure the safety and security of their fellow citizens through their courage, special skills and genuine compassion.

Since its inception in 1874, the Royal Humane Society of Australasia has given public recognition to acts of bravery by bestowing awards on those who risk their own lives in saving or attempting to save the lives of others.

Today we acknowledge the great courage of two such people.

Last year on January 18 the fires that ripped through Canberra and the surrounding region were the worst to hit the Australian Capital Territory destroying more than 500 homes, burning thousands of hectares of forest, and park lands and tragically claiming the lives of four people.

Estimates put the insured loss in the region at close to $250 million. Never since its founding in 1913 has Canberra witnessed a loss of that magnitude.

For two weeks emergency personnel and volunteers held Canberra together.

The dedication to duty by paramedics Ross Shadbolt and Jean Young in rescuing a very badly injured man caught in the heavy flames of the Canberra suburb of Duffy, demonstrated the personal and professional qualities that have made the ACT Ambulance Service so highly regarded in the community.

There are no education courses available to teach people to take personal risks to help others. There are no textbooks to study for bravery. From my experience I have frequently found that selfless acts and concern for others, often with disregard for personal safety, comes from something special within the individual and often flows from the principles, values and beliefs with which they were raised.

Today’s awards recognise the outstanding action taken by Ross and Jean in a difficult and dangerous situation.

Their dedication to duty, skill in delivering assistance and steadfastness in ignoring great danger to assist a fellow human being in dire need, has done them proud and brought enormous credit on the ACT Ambulance Service.

Presenting these awards today makes us all mindful of the dangers our emergency services personnel confront daily as they go about their duty.

So very well done to Ross and Jean; it has been a great pleasure to present them with their Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal.

Thank you.