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Speech by the Governor-General at the opening of extensions to the Mount Mugga Scout Hall, Red Hill, ACT.\n



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SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY

MAJOR GENERAL MICHAEL JEFFERY AC CVO MC (Retd) GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA OPEN EXTENSIONS TO THE MOUNT MUGGA SCOUT HALL

RED HILL, ACT SUNDAY, 28 NOVEMBER 2004

Mr Neville Tomkins, Chief Commissioner, Scouts ACT Mr Doug Foskett, President, Mount Mugga Scout Group Mrs Philippa Muller, President, Scouts ACT Leaders and Scouts Ladies and gentlemen

Marlena and I are truly delighted to be here this afternoon for the opening of the extension to the Mount Mugga Scout Hall.

How very reassuring it is to learn that Scouts ACT is almost ‘bursting at the seams’ with new members - a 30% increase in the last 18 months - and hence the need to expand programs and to extend scouts halls, such as you have done so successfully here at Red Hill.

I’m not sure I know of any other organisation in the community which is experiencing such rapid growth. Chief Commissioner, that’s a magnificent result for your strategy, and you have every reason to be very proud of your team!

And proud of the planning and hard work; we all know there’s truth in the old saying that you cannot plough a field by simply turning it over in your mind.

In January this year, I spoke to thousands of scouts and leaders at the Australian Jamboree.

It was a remarkable gathering of young people from right across Australia and overseas - the energy and enthusiasm of the scouts was contagious. And the theme of the event, “The Ultimate Challenge”, struck the right chord in the sense of looking to the future.

The essence of that theme is what I want to continue expanding on in the wider Australian community. I strongly believe that the ‘ultimate challenge’ for our nation is also a ‘tremendous opportunity’; the opportunity to invest wisely in new

generations, providing the very best we can for our nation’s youth.

Within that context I am a strong supporter of scouting; what it stands for and what it achieves.

I have long believed that if every young Australian, from age 12 to 17, could be encouraged to belong to a well-led youth group such as the Scouts, there would be far fewer social problems within our society.

I see ACT Scouts as a wonderful community role model.

Under the leadership of the Chief Commissioner ACT, tremendous work is being done in revamping programs to make them more interesting and appropriate to the modern day.

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You are doing this; whilst not losing sight of Lord Baden Powell’s philosophies of initiative, self-reliance, strength of character, courtesy and teamwork.

Those fine ideals echo through the Scouts programs, in activities such as:

É planning and organising adventure based training;

É developing personal endurance;

É learning to understand and respect the Australian bush;

É working to clean up and preserve the environment; and

É looking after our near neighbours, for example, the Honiara project

involving youth members and adult leaders and supporters who helped rebuild the Red Cross Development School in the Solomon Islands.

In Scouts I see an expression of what I’ve been talking about for some time - striving to be a ‘nation of excellence’ - in everything we do.

Indeed, I believe the activities of the Scouts, that is, your programs of personal development, your interest in the well-being of the community, your sense of wanting to improve, and of planning for the future, reinforce, in 2004, the practical approach of Lord Baden Powell.

Today his simple words, written not long before he died a little over 60 years ago, have a special significance in the 21st century. He maintained that “the most worthwhile thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others.”

I see a fine example of this in the people who accepted responsibility for this building project. Many generous people have given freely of their time, money, skills and experience. And many good corporate citizens have supported them, ACT businesses that have chosen to give something back to their community.

The extension to the scout hall is a welcome addition to the space needed by the Mount Mugga Scout Group for its planning sessions, training and indoor activities. I am confident it will come to be warmly remembered as a centre of excellence, where life skills are learnt, where friendships are made, where self-esteem and confidence in one’s own abilities are strengthened, where respect for differences and admiration for other people’s talents are developed.

So this is an immensely satisfying occasion for scouts and for the wider community. Congratulations to you all for bringing this fine project to completion.

Chief Commissioner, I am proud to be Chief Scout of Australia. I am honoured to be associated with an organisation that provides the means for young people to develop a healthy sense of self-worth in a world that can, from time to time, seem indifferent.

Marlena and I wish you every success in achieving your most worthy goals.

It is now my great pleasure to unveil the commemorative plaque and to declare the extensions to the Mount Mugga Scout Hall officially open.