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Presentation of the 1998 Clarke Silver Medal, Brisbane, Monday, 24 May 1999: address on the occasion.

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MONDAY, 24 MAY 1999


We are gathered for the presentation of the 1998 Clarke Silver Medal.   It has been awarded to Mr Josef Bredl (Bread-el) of Cannonvale, for the great bravery he showed during the rescue of his daughter from a crocodile.


Most of us know the basis of the award.  Miss Bredl was about to begin a show at her father’s Barefoot Bushman’s Wildlife Park near Cannonvale in July 1997, when she was seized by a five-metre crocodile and dragged towards the water.   Mr Bredl leapt into the enclosure, beat the animal with a rake handle and subsequently jumped on to its back and attacked it until it let go of the young woman who fortunately was pulled to safety by two other men.   I note that these men have also been recognised by the Society for their bravery.


Mr Bredl’s action was the most outstanding case of bravery considered by the Court of the Royal Humane Society of Australasia last year.   Mr Bredl thus joins the distinguished list of men, women and young people who have been awarded the Clarke Medal since it was instituted in 1881 - 118 years ago.


As Governor-General and as Patron of the Society I offer my warmest congratulations to Mr Bredl and to members of his family.   By his actions on that day in the face of considerable danger, he showed the selflessness and heroism that is the hallmark of all those people who have been awarded the Clarke Medal.


Ladies and gentlemen, the Clarke Medal was instituted and is named after Sir William Clarke, the first baronet.   This is the first time for more than half a century that Sir William’s grandson, Sir Rupert Clarke, has not held active office with the Royal Humane Society of Australasia either as a director or, since, 1992, as President.


Sir Rupert retired as President earlier this year.   Whilst he has accepted life membership of the Society and will thus maintain an association with it, I wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge all that he has given of his time, his experience and his leadership to further the great objectives of the Royal Humane Society.   I thank him for his service over the years, and wish him every happiness for the years ahead.


At the same time, let me congratulate and express every good wish to Mr Ross Campbell who has now become President of the Society after serving as Vice-President since 1991.   As a management consultant, a council member of the Australian Opera, writer and lecturer in communications at Monash and Deakin Universities, Mr Campbell brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to his new office.   I have no doubt that under his guidance the Royal Humane Society of Australasia will continue to fulfil the two great ends it serves.


The first of those ends is to recognise, not by pecuniary benefit but in the form of awards or honours, those who have, through their courageous and unselfish actions, made an outstanding contribution to the life of our country.   Secondly, of course, it helps to define, encourage and reinforce those national standards, aspirations and ideals we all hold as citizens and as individual human beings.   And it does this by acknowledging an individual act of great bravery that encourages others, faced with a similar crisis, to emulate that achievements, thus serving as a role model for us all.


Let me again congratulate Mr Josef Bredl for his courage and devotion to his daughter.


And now, with much pleasure, I present h im with the Clarke Silver Medal for 1998.



jy  1999-05-25  17:30