Bill's Speeches



Good morning everybody.

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet and I pay my respects to their elders both past and present.

I want to thank the Prime Minister for his very kind and generous words and I certainly echo his sentiments.

And I want to welcome the men and women of the Invictus Games, welcome back from Toronto and welcome to Canberra.

You and your families do us great honour by coming here today, you do us the privilege of helping celebrate your achievements.

You do us great honour because you show us the true meaning of courage.

The courage to risk your life to save another.

The courage to put yourself in harm’s way, for Australia and for your comrades.

The courage also to confront and conquer adversity and doubt.

I don't know each of your personal journeys to this point but I can at least imagine that it takes great courage to climb out of the darkness.

To rebuild from injury and trauma and isolation and to take your spot proudly on the starting line.

In this place, hundreds of thousands of words fall like water.

We agree, we disagree, we clash, we co-operate on matters great and perhaps not so great.

But it’s not our words today that do justice to Invictus – it’s yours.

It’s Squadron Leader Paul McGinty, talking about how on the battlefields of Afghanistan he’d helped evacuate soldiers who had lost their limbs and now he competes alongside them as teammates.

It’s Leading Aircraftwoman Melissa Roberts saying how in the low moments of her rehabilitation, battling brain injury from a near-fatal car accident, she never dreamed of representing Australia and last month, she brings home seven medals from Toronto.

And it’s her Mum saying that she ‘loves her to bits’.

It’s Squadron Leader Danny Jeffrey and former Australian Army Medical Technician Stewart Sherman, talking about the bond of their wheelchair tennis partnership.

Danny saying he's determined to help Stewart through his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because he’d just made it out of the dark himself, and saying: “You don’t leave a brother behind.”

It’s the way that Private Danielle Close summed up the spirit of the Games – she said it’s: “the first sporting event that you go through where even the people you’re competing against are backing you.”

And I want you to know, just as the Prime Minister has said, on behalf of all Australians – that by returning from adversity, by returning from places which many Australians will never have to go, coming through that storm, that difficulty and that uncertainty - coming through the other side - you served your country again, by your inspiration.

You are proof of the human spirit’s boundless resilience.

I want you to know how many people you give hope to by your effort.

They mightn't always get the chance to tell you, but trust me, you give a lot of people, a lot of hope.

And you are also a reminder of the duty that we owe all of those who've served, the duty to support the men and women of the ADF and their families.

Looking around this room, you can almost feel and see the pride that your families have in you. You should know that every Australian wishes they could be here, telling you how proud they are of you.

You represent: the purest expression of sport, the noblest example of mateship, the very best of Australia.

I cannot wait for Sydney 2018, when tens of thousands of your fellow Australians will be cheering your names.

We salute you, congratulations.

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