Under 16's Anzac Day Reception

(12pm 25 April 2012, Sydney Town Hall Reception Room)

Hello, everyone. Welcome. I would 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 200 nationalities who make up our city.

Once again, to John Miller and all those involved in keeping alive the spirit of the Under 16s, welcome to Town Hall. And to those of you from interstate, welcome to Sydney and to this special commemoration.

Today, I'd specially like to welcome the family of Gunner Keith Trigg - one of the Under 16s who did not survive the war. He was among more than 800 PoWs and 208 civilians aboard a Japanese ship which was torpedoed in 1942 en route for China. He was just a few weeks past his 20th birthday.

For many years, his fate was uncertain and his family could not be found. Now, thanks to the work of the Australian War Memorial and of the Under 16s organisation, we have with us today Barry Angel, Keith's oldest nephew, the same "young Barry" mentioned in Keith's letters home. Also Judith Angel, Richard Angel and his young children, Cameron and Natasha.

I'm so pleased you can join us here to honour your relative who, like so many of the Under 16s, died way too young. Those who survived often did so at the cost of health, serenity of mind, or fractured lives in the aftermath of war.

These were sacrifices made on behalf of all of us. And your sacrifice demands of us that we build the just, tolerant and free society that you fought for.

We must ensure that that the spirit of mateship is not just a slogan, but that it really lives on in this country.

It is finding some reflection in the "Respect and Responsibility" program John has established with the Australian War Memorial which has a real impact on teenagers visiting the memorial among boys who are now about the age you were when you went to war.

Later this year, there will be a DVD available to schools around Australia designed to prevent bullying and other anti-social behaviour through the sort of role-modelling you, as young men, provided.

I understand it has already been adopted by The King's School here in Sydney and it will hopefully spread a positive message to young people in need of a different kind of role model - one which you all so amply provide.

Once again, welcome to Town Hall and I hope you enjoy today with your family and friends.