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Speech at an event to mark the 16th anniversary of the establishment of Life Education Top End, Katherine, NT.



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SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY

MAJOR GENERAL MICHAEL JEFFERY AC CVO MC (Retd) GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA AT AN EVENT TO MARK THE 16TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ESTABLISHMENT OF LIFE EDUCATION TOP END

KATHERINE, NORTHERN TERRITORY SUNDAY, 20 JUNE 2004

Administrator of the Northern Territory, His Honour Ted Egan, and Nerys Evans The Right Worshipful Peter Adamson, Lord Mayor of Darwin and Honorary Chairman of Life Education Top End Her Worship Anne Shepherd, Mayor of Katherine Officeholders, staff, volunteers and supporters of Life Education Top End Our host today, Werner Sarny Boys and girls Everyone’s friend, Happy Healthy Harold!

Hello, and thanks very much for inviting me to say a few words on this special day for Life Education Top End and, indeed, to the people of Katherine. I love the outback, because I happen to be born in a gold mining town called Wiluna, about 400km north of Kalgoorlie.

Marlena and I are delighted to be back in the Territory, and we’re really enjoying our first visit to this town, after spending two delightful days in Alice Springs with St John Ambulance, the Deadly Mob Café and NORFORCE.

I like to think that in my former life as a soldier, one contributed something to the development of the Northern Territory as I had a lot to do with the raising of NORFORCE and the construction of the military barracks at Palmerston, just out of Darwin.

NORFORCE now has 300 indigenous soldiers, some of whom I met in Alice Springs yesterday, splendid people, and several cadet units have now been raised which I strongly support.

I have a vision of the Territory and indeed the Top End of Australia being home to many, many more people, because in Northern Australia we have the water, plentiful supplies of minerals and energy and of course, the space.

Although we live in Canberra, we like to get out as often as possible to meet Australians from all walks of life - not just the city slickers!

And, today, we’re pleased to meet so many children from local schools.

This is a big day for Katherine because we’re celebrating a couple of birthdays at the same time.

This weekend marks the 125th anniversary of the founding of this wonderful, historic Springvale Homestead.

It’s good to see descendants of Alfred Giles - the man who built this fine house - joining us for this Anniversary Fair, along with previous owners and residents.

Today’s displays, events and activities have been superb, so we thank Marion

Townsend and the Katherine Historical Society for putting on such a fine show.

I must say we’re looking forward to planting some rain trees a little later here on the property.

I think it’ll be a nice link with Alfred and Mary Giles, who planted rain trees for four of their children - as each was born - way back in the late 1800s.

And it’ll be a symbol of renewal and confidence in a bright future for this part of the Territory.

I might add, boys and girls, that it’ll also be a great thing for our environment, too - as we should plant trees at any time, and whenever we can, not just on special days.

Ladies and gentlemen.

My main role today is to officially wish Harold, the mascot of Life Education Top End -a very happy 16th birthday.

Life Education was started in Kings Cross, Sydney, in 1979 by Reverend Ted Noffs of the Wayside Chapel and now reaches out to over one million children throughout Australia.

Since 1987, Life Education Top End has done a splendid job teaching youngsters in the Territory about things like self-esteem, getting along with people, looking after yourself, understanding how our bodies work, and the bad things that drugs, glue sniffing, smoking and alcohol can do to us.

Life Education has worked cooperatively with government, businesses and community groups to run some very effective health and drug education programs - including inside the Mobile Classroom that’s here today.

Over the past 17 years, Life Education has engaged with large numbers of kids in the Territory, and it has invariably had a positive impact on their lives.

It has done this by emphasising one central message - that each of us as a person is unique, very special, and has the potential to lead a happy, fulfilling and useful life.

And in this regard, might I suggest that it is quite possible for one of the children here today to be a future Governor-General, because in our country anyone can do it if you work hard enough. .

Of course, running Life Education is not cheap and easy - given the size of the Northern Territory.

Many, many people over the years have contributed the money, time and energy required to make Life Education Top End a great success and one of the most admired grassroots programs of its kind.

To them, we simply say thank you very, very much.

I’m told that when Happy Healthy Harold and the Life Education van come down to Katherine from Darwin, everyone is really excited and has a fantastic time.

Ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you for coming out in such tremendous numbers today, and Marlena and I look forward to meeting you as we have a look around the Fair.

To Life Education Top End - and the people of the Katherine region - we wish you every success in your shared and individual endeavours over the coming years.

Thank you.