Remarks at the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 Media Launch
Your Excellencies , Your Royal Highness, Premier of New South Wales, Defence Minister Marise Payne, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan, distinguished guests one and all, but above all, the Australian Squad Members for the Invictus Games.
Thank you for your service, for your leadership, for your courage. We thank all of our servicemen and women and veterans here today.
We are reminded now and forever how our freedoms depend, today, as they did a century ago, in your putting your lives on the line to keep us free.
The games are called Invictus - unconquered, you are unconquered, you are unconquerable, just as are the values for which you fought, for which you fight, for which our nations stand.
And I thank you, Your Royal Highness, for the sympathy, for the condolences, for the solidarity you show us, as we show the people of Britain, as your High Commissioner Menna Rawlings understands very well.
When we saw the people of Britain attacked, Manchester Arena, London Bridge, it was an attack on Australia and our values as well.
And tragically, as we know, two young Australians lost their lives in that shocking terrorist attack on London Bridge.
And we have had another terrorist attack this week in Melbourne, another innocent civilian has been killed.
This battle against terrorism is fought at home and around the world.
And everywhere it depends on brave men and women - unconquered, unconquerable, committed to the values of freedom for which we stand and which our fathers and mothers and grandfathers and grandmothers have stood for generations - standing up, unconquered, unconquerable, always invictus.
These games remind us of that commitment, that enduring commitment to the wounded, injured, ill servicemen and women, both on active duties and veterans.
It is as Prince Harry said it is an opportunity to use that healing power of sport to help them rebuild their lives.
And in the lead-up to the 2018 Invictus Games here in Sydney, we are entranced, inspired, by the tales of triumph over adversity, of which you spoke, Your Royal Highness.
Like Curtis McGrath, an Ambassador for the Invictus Games and a recent gold medallist from the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. As an Australian Army Engineer Curtis lost both legs in an improvised explosive device blast while serving in Afghanistan in 2013. Since then Curtis has overcome his severe injuries through rehabilitation and intense training to represent Australia at the highest level.
Curtis, along with each of the members of the Invictus Squad is an inspiration to our ADF and to all Australians. That’s the power of sport.
As you said, Your Royal Highness, it is not just Sydney that is sports mad, Australia is sports mad. It unites us all, it inspires us, it brings out the best.
Now the Sydney Invictus Games will be on the year 2018, which marks the centenary of the end of World War l.
We know how important it is to honour the sacrifice of our servicemen and women over the ages and our veterans.
In Canberra, the Australian Parliament stands opposite, across the lake, the Australian War Memorial, whose Director, Brendan Nelson, an Ambassador for the Invictus Games, is here today.
That monument is a powerful, quiet reminder to those of us who lead our nation to always seek to resolve conflict by peaceful means. But, if we cannot, and we send our troops into harm's way, to ensure that they are always well led and well resourced. So that they can return home safely, duty done, mission completed, to their families.
And it also is a reminder, as are these Invictus Games, that the best way to honour the diggers of 1914 and 1918 is to support the servicemen and women, the veterans and their families, of today and that is our commitment.
Our servicemen and women defend our freedoms and our values so we may live in peace. Many have paid with their lives. Many more have returned wounded, physically, mentally, emotionally.
And that is why the Australian government is providing comprehensive support to help our veterans return to civilian life. With better services so they can get on with their lives, more funding across a wide range of areas, including mental health and suicide prevention strategies.
We have also personally committed - the Minister and myself and my whole Government - to an employment initiative that will enable veterans to forge new careers.
And the inspiration for that came, Your Royal Highness, from a meeting with my son-in-law and veterans of his era, your era, young veterans in their 30s who said: "We need some help; more help to get business to give us the employment opportunities we need to return to civilian life".
It’s a good example of the way we engage with the veterans community to ensure that we are providing each and every one of them the support they need in every way.
Rebuild their lives, return to civilian life, to continue to serve the nation, they have through their service, kept free.
So the Invictus Games is another way we can honour our veterans. It is a great opportunity to show them and the serving men and women of the ADF, that the whole nation, the whole community, is right behind them.
So I want to thank General Leahy for his leadership. I want to thank the sponsors for their support. And this is a good opportunity, in addition to the support that comes from government for businesses, for individuals, to provide their support in every way to the Invictus Games. We can all show our support for these great Games.
So, it is time to get ready to embrace the 2018 Games, embrace the Invictus spirit.
These veterans are unconquered; the values for which they fought are unconquered and unconquerable.
We salute you, we thank you and we will be cheering you on at the Invictus Games here in Sydney in 2018.
Thank you very much.