Australian of the Year Awards Ceremony

Speech
25 Jan 2023
Canberra
Prime Minister
Check against delivery

I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.

I am proud to lead a government committed to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Later this year, in a referendum, every Australian will have the opportunity to take up the generous and gracious invitation to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in our nations' birth certificate - our Constitution - and to support a voice to Parliament.

I believe – just like tonight – it will be an uplifting moment of national unity.

Every Australian can be proud that the society we have built together, down the generations, includes the world's oldest continuous culture.

My fellow Australians.

We gather tonight, on the eve of our national day, to honour and celebrate those who represent the very best of our national character.

Global stars and local heroes.

Young Australians and those rich in years.

People of all backgrounds and from every part of our continent.

A diverse group, united by a common quality: they inspire us.

They inspire us by living and serving and upholding our nation's values: our compassion and generosity, our courage and initiative, our ingrained sense of fairness and our deep belief in service to community.

To all our nominees: congratulations and thank you.

Thank you for everything you do for others, thank you for everything you do to make this a better country.

And to our outgoing Australians of the Year: Valmai Dempsey, Daniel Nour, Shanna Whan and - of course – Dylan Alcott.

You have brought tremendous passion, great decency and endless good humour to your roles.

And in doing so, you have set an incredibly high bar for those who will follow you and offered a powerful example to us all.

Australia thanks you.


Tomorrow, at ceremonies around our nation, people born under every flag and drawn from every faith and tradition will pledge their loyalty to our nation, our people and the democratic beliefs we share.

In choosing Australia as their home, our newest citizens are embracing our belief in opportunity for all, sharing in the respect we have for hard work, joining in the optimism that drives our aspiration and the compassion that guides us to look after each other.

Australians live those qualities every day.

Especially, when times are tough.

And tonight all of us are thinking of people around our nation battling the aftermath of devastating floods.

Those mourning lost loved ones, those seeking to repair or rebuild their homes and every one of the emergency services personnel, the ADF and the volunteers who continue to work so bravely and tirelessly to help their fellow Australians in their hour of need.

Time and time again, the worst of nature reveals the best of our people and their character.

As the saying goes, "kindness in another's trouble - and courage in our own".

And whatever challenges the future brings, we know Australians will rise to meet them.

Friends

On Australia Day, we celebrate how fortunate we are to live in the greatest country on earth.

And each of us knows it can be greater still: more fair, more prosperous, more equal.

A nation where the doors of opportunity are truly open to all.

Together, this year, let us dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of that ambition.

To our nominees, our winners and to all Australians: I wish you a Happy Australia Day and a safe and happy year ahead.

Thank you very much.