(12pm 13 August 2102, Town Hall Vestibule)
Thank you, Stephanie Brantz, MC, and hello, everyone. Welcome! It's great to see you all here. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nationalities who live in our City.
I also welcome today Jason Hellwig, CEO of the Australian Paralympic Committee; The Hon Andrew Constance MP, Minister for Ageing and Disability Services, who is representing the Premier of NSW, Justin Holdforth, Head of ABC TV Sport & Events and Graeme Kightley (kitely), Acting Head of School and Alumni team at our near-neighbours, St Andrews Cathedral School.
All of us will be barracking for you when you compete in London. It's a tremendous honour to represent your country and your community - and a huge achievement simply to be chosen as a representative and have the chance to compete.
I believe this is the largest-ever contingent from Australia - a total of 161 athletes to contest 13 sports. You come from every state and territory, barring the Northern Territory and from 29 August, you'll be vying with more than 4,000 athletes from 165 countries. Those figures give some idea of the truly global nature of these games.
And just in case you're not already keyed up enough, the global audience is expected to top three billion viewers!
It will be a tough competition.
But Australian paralympians have a very proud track record. We've taken part in every Paralympic Games since the first, held in Rome in 1960. Since the Atlanta Games of 1996, we've finished in the top five in the medal tally, and over the years our teams have won 989 medals. I'm sure many of you here today will help lift that total over the 1,000 mark.
Names like Tim Sullivan, Louise Sauvage, Priya Cooper and Libby Kosmala are known to us all - and rightly so. Some of your names may become as familiar, and as proudly recognised.
You are all people who have faced significant challenges in your lives. The fact that you have dealt with those challenges, and moved on to live full, strong and energetic lives is an enormous tribute to your tenacity, your self-discipline and your courage and a great inspiration.
Those qualities will stand you in good stead in London. I wish all of you all the very best. It would be nice to come home with a swag of medals. But above all I wish you a wonderful experience and I congratulate you all. I know you'll be inspiring representatives for Australia.
Good luck, everyone, we'll all be with you.