Under 16′s Reception

(12pm, Reception Room, Sydney Town Hall)

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Town Hall. Today, of course, I especially welcome the Under 16s and their families who are with us here.

I also want to formally acknowledge the Under 16s - both those who are here today and those who are here only in spirit.

This is an especially poignant gathering in this centenary year of Anzac. For whatever debates continue about the value of that campaign, and the true meaning of "Anzac", there can be no debate at all about its impact on the Australian psyche.

Only a year after the Gallipoli landings, the first official Anzac Day was marked by a march of over 2000 Australian and New Zealand troops through London. A British newspaper dubbed them "the knights of Gallipoli".

Other marches were held all over Australia - a nation that was only 15 years old - and here in Sydney, there were convoys of cars carrying wounded soldiers from Gallipoli, beginning the solemn tradition that continues today.

Perhaps some of you were inspired with that same sense of both service and adventure combined that seems to have inspired the original Anzacs.

And like them, you would have found the grim reality of war. It is almost unimaginable to us today what your experiences must have been and how deeply - for good and ill - they must have marked your lives since. Some of you did not survive the war but thankfully, many of you did - not only the war itself, but in some cases prison camps and dreadful labour on the Burma Railways or in Japan.

Perhaps for many of you it was too dreadful to share, even with those you love most. But it is an enormous tribute to your courage, your resilience and determination that you went on to build successful lives and loving families, and in that, you can inspire us all.

I would like to pay tribute to you all and to those who were lost to your ranks in the last year, Ted Owen and Bob Lammond. I would also like to pay tribute to Jennifer Ballard and Maayken Griffiths Marsh who has dedicated so much time and energy to ensuring the Under 16's have the recognition you deserve.

It's an honour to have you all here with us today.