I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet. I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.
These awards have been running for a few years, but it's the first time I've had the honour to present them as your Prime Minister.
And I am delighted to celebrate with you this evening.
Our veterans have so very much to offer.
But I am always struck when I hear that our veterans aren't confident that civilian employers recognise that.
After all they've given to their nation, and the huge skillset they've built along the way, they have no certainty that it will be recognised.
As if a chasm stands between the Australian economy, and the Australian Defence Force that protects it.
This has to change.
Thankfully, it's a change that everyone in this room is part of.
All of us here recognise the fundamental truth: that veterans have extraordinary capacity and potential, and they bring the kind of lived experience that's a gift to any workplace.
They bring skills as leaders, planners, thinkers, and communicators.
Veterans see the bigger picture, and devote themselves to realising it.
And they're steeped in the values of the Australian Defence Force: service, courage, respect, integrity and excellence.
So tonight, we celebrate veterans - and the qualities that make them great employees.
And we celebrate employers who recognise these qualities.
You've got great vision – you know a good thing when you see it.
Since 2018, these awards have showcased veteran employment in a huge range of professions, representing the diverse work that veterans are doing across our nation.
They're developing user-friendly technology.
And fine-tuning details in project management roles.
They're managing complex financial accounts.
And safeguarding our data.
They're looking after our children.
And producing high-quality boutique foods.
You name it, veterans are out there doing it.
And this year, I'm delighted that, for the first time, these awards will honour the partners of veterans too.
They are there, standing in solidarity during the years of service, through the upheaval of transition, and beyond.
They are the strength that sustains.
They make enormous personal sacrifices that shape family and work life – moving across the country and overseas, supporting families and running households solo when their loved one is deployed.
For partners, this can have an impact on their careers, and their wellbeing.
Too often, we don't recognise their sacrifice. But we should.
Because 'they also serve'.
The inaugural Awards for Partner Employee and Partner Entrepreneur are an important celebration of their achievements.
This Government wants to see more and more veterans flourish and thrive in workplaces right around Australia.
In our recent Federal Budget we committed:
- $24 million for the Veteran Employment Program
- And more than $46 million to establish eight new hubs to connect veterans and families with services in support of better health, well-being and employment outcomes.
This means opening the doors of opportunity – and widening them – to lead to a better future for veterans, their families and their communities.
You've stepped up for us. Now we're stepping up for you.
Before I present tonight's first awards, please allow me to thank all the veteran and partner nominees.
You gave a great gift to our nation in service and, in civilian life, you continue in the same generous spirit.
Just as you've strengthened our nation in the past, you are already part of building our future.