17 February 2014 - Opening of Pat Gosper Place - Cairns Wellbeing Centre
Australian Red Cross President - Michael Legge
A very warm welcome to Red Cross members, volunteers, staff, and our guests who have taken the time to be here this morning. Thank you very much for joining us on this very proud special occasion, especially those people who have travelled a long way.
I especially welcome our honoured guest the Queensland Governor, Ms Penelope Wensley, who is also Queensland patron of Red Cross, and representatives of the Federal and Queensland Health Ministers. Thank you for joining us today.
I want to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land we meet on here today, and pay my respects to their elders, their heritage and culture - past, present and future.
This mark of respect is especially important today as we gather to officially open the Pat Gosper Place - Cairns Wellbeing Centre.
It's a great privilege, as President of Australian Red Cross, to be so warmly welcomed to your country, with such a fantastic showcase of your rich culture and heritage.
Over 150 years, Red Cross has grown to become the world's largest humanitarian organisation, with millions of volunteers working in 189 countries, helping vulnerable people in times of war, disaster or personal crisis.
Our greatest strength is our people, who are united by our fundamental humanitarian principles - to prevent and alleviate human suffering, without discrimination, wherever it may be found. To help those people most in need, whoever they are, and wherever they live.
Pat Gosper Place embodies these fine Red Cross principles.
People living in rural and remote locations can't access the same wide range of quality, affordable health care in their communities as people living in urban centres. Yet they deserve the same medical care, the same opportunities to improve their health and quality of life.
What's new and exciting about Pat Gosper Place is the new wellbeing centre model that serves such a large and diverse state as Queensland.
We've known for many years that people in rural and remote communities suffer poorer health outcomes, reduced life expectancy and higher levels of disease and illness.
The wellbeing centre approach fills a real gap in people's lives, giving them access to the quality and range of medical services that people in the city take for granted.
Cairns is the first of six Red Cross accommodation centres to transition across to the wellbeing centre model in this state.
Most of the guests will be from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, so we have created quality, affordable accommodation in a healing and culturally appropriate environment. A range of holistic services are offered on site and through referral, in partnership with local organisations.
Pat Gosper Place embodies the commitment by Australian Red Cross to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, organisations and communities.
Last year Red Cross published its Reconciliation Plan 'Together as Partners' which affirms our commitment to building dynamic and diverse partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and community organisations.
We run many world class programs that support and empower Indigenous communities, right across the country.
We currently employ more than 100 local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and volunteers, people who understand their communities and work together with Red Cross.
Closing the gap must remain a high priority for all Australians.
I'm extremely proud that Red Cross, as Australia's largest and most trusted charity, with such an extensive national reach, is working with so many remote communities under the 'Together as Partners' action plan. It turns our principles into real actions, so that we can deliver positive results for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
Pat Gosper Place will be a comforting home away from home.
It is named after an extraordinary local Red Cross supporter. She first joined in 1945, and helped set up the local Blood Service, disaster services, the Red Cross shop and the Emergency Medical Accommodation Centre that Red Cross has operated at this site for over 50 years. Pat Gosper also helped raise much of the funds needed to support this work in her community. She is an inspiration alongside other long serving volunteers who are here today.
Today's event is the result of decades of fundraising by many volunteers and local branches. I can't even begin to guess how many raffle tickets they have sold over the years at the Cairns Show to get us to this point. Thank you all so much for your work.
Today's opening is a flagship project in Red Cross' centenary year.
In 2014 we are proudly celebrating 100 years of people helping people, and thanking generations of Australians for their service to the nation.
Today there are over one million Red Cross volunteers, members, staff, donors, aid workers and supporters reaching right across Australia and further afield, operating in 1,250 locations in every state and territory.
Our work would not be possible without the enduring spirit of volunteerism and commitment to Red Cross humanitarian values. It is this spirit, as strong today as it was 100 years ago, that we are celebrating throughout our Centenary year, and which we celebrate here today.
I am constantly inspired and humbled by the determination and commitment of Red Cross people making such a positive and lasting difference every day in their communities.
Volunteers will be the key to the success of this expanded service here in Cairns, and I look forward to welcoming new volunteers to the Red Cross family.
I also want to acknowledge the hard work, dedication and professionalism of our staff in this state, and the contribution of Greg Goebel. I congratulate you all for your achievements with this outstanding facility.
Pat Gosper Place would not be possible without generous funding and support from the Queensland and Australian governments, which I acknowledge and thank them for.
Finally, we remain so grateful to all our regular donors and financial supporters - past and present - for their ongoing support, commitment and belief in the power of humanity. Without them, we cannot continue our vital work.
I am filled with optimism that our efforts here are laying a strong foundation for the future health and wellbeing of the Indigenous peoples who have called these remote parts of the country home for so many generations.
When we work together towards a common goal, there are virtually no limits on what we can achieve.
I wish you and your families, and everyone connected with the Cairns Wellbeing Centre, good health and good luck in the years to come.
Read media release
Read news article on opening of Pat Gosper Place
Read more about Pat Gosper Place facilities