Twenty years ago, the shockwaves from Bali reached our shores.
Twenty years ago, an act of malice and calculated depravity robbed the world of 202 lives.
They were visitors and locals alike, gathered in a place of joy.
Eighty-eight of them Australian.
Twenty years on, the ache does not dim.
For most of us, what happened on that fateful night is beyond imagining.
The sudden terrible light, the sudden terrible darkness. The awful postscript of fire.
Alongside the local workers and residents were team mates enjoying their end-of-season holiday.
Including members of Kingsley Football Club, Sturt Football Club, the Southport Sharks, the Dulwich Newtown Basketball Club and the Coogee Dolphins, their name bestowed upon this piece of land in an act of remembering of six team mates.
We think of them with the ache of knowing they should still be here, their senses filled with everything we feel now.
The salty tang of the air, the sea in its ancient rhythm foaming against beach and cliff, and the tapestry of voices of which they were all such integral part.
So many futures were stolen that night.
We think of every conversation never had.
Every moment of love never known.
We think of those who survived, and those who helped.
What they saw that night will never leave them.
Yet amid it all, the very worst of circumstances brought out the very best in people.
It brought out compassion. Selflessness. Heroism.
That night, the terrorists could not achieve their aim.
What they struck, they could not defeat.
Because what they struck at was the idea of us, the great fabric of dreams and ideals and compassion and fairness that make us who we are.
Indonesians, Australians, people from around the world.
They struck at the friendship between us.
They struck at the joy of a free people.
They struck at humanity.
But we remain.
In the end, they reminded us of what is so important to us.
And to not take for granted what we have built and nurtured over generations.
They sought to create terror.
But people ran towards the terror, to do what they could do for friend and stranger alike.
Because what drove them was a higher, more human instinct than those who
What the architects of this slaughter achieved was to make us reflect on what we most truly value – and to hold on to it more tightly than ever before.
No terrorist can take this from us.
But they did take life.
They left survivors to rebuild themselves, physically and mentally.
They left families and friends struggling with loss.
For them, the world could never be the same again.
Twenty years on, so many hearts are still tethered to that cruel night, every beat tempered by an abiding sorrow.
Many currents were stopped in the great river of life that night.
And some are still stranded on the bank, unable to walk away.
Grief is its own creature.
Grief does not travel in straight lines.
Grief may soften with time, but it does not fade.
As my predecessor Julia Gillard put it a decade ago, Bali is:
“A place, like London and Gallipoli, where something of the Australian spirit dwells upon another shore.”
And it is a beloved shore. Indonesian people have reached out to generations of
Australians as friends and neighbours.
They felt our great pain that night, and we felt theirs.
This beautiful monument represents family, friends and community.
Its three parts are bowed in sorrow, but they hold each other because in unity
we find strength and hope and love.
We find each other.
And that is how we come together, our hearts filled with everyone who never came home.
Everyone who never came home the same.
Everyone who still carries the loss.
And every survivor we have lost since.
We hold on to their names and faces. And we will never let them fade.