Team Australia Skillaroos Farewell Function - Pyrmont Point

  • Minister for Employment Participation
  • Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Government Service Delivery

Team Australia Skillaroos Farewell Function

Pyrmont Point

4pm Wednesday 26 August 2009

I would like to acknowledge the Gadigal people, the traditional owners of the land we are meeting on today.

I would also like to acknowledge my Parliamentary colleagues:NSW Minister for Education and Training Verity FirthDr Andrew Southcott, Opposition spokespersonWorldSkills Australia chair Jeanette Allan and CEO Mark Callaghan Support staffFriends, families and supportersAnd most importantly our Skillaroos.

The 26 talented young men and women who stand before you will shortly represent Australia at the 40th WorldSkills International Competition in Calgary, Canada.

It is a great pleasure to be here today, on behalf of the Prime Minister and the Australian Government, to farewell the team on their journey.

Just last night I was with the Prime Minister in Port Macquarie at a community cabinet meeting and he was talking about the Government’s commitment to Australia becoming the most highly trained and best skilled nation.

And what better example do we have of the excellent skills developed in our TAFE colleges and in our vocational education system than our Skillaroos?

I had the honour of meeting our representatives during June’s training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport, where I presented them with their team blazers.

I walked away convinced the sacrifices they have made to earn their seat on the flight to Canada will reap well deserved rewards.

At the time I said I wanted to come and farewell the team and I’m delighted to do so today.

Ours is a country that celebrates sporting achievements like few others.

We idolise the champions of the football field…… swimming pool …… and cricket pitch.

But today we celebrate another dimension of our national character – our world-class skills and spirit of innovation.

We celebrate the champions of the carpentry shed and the car yard and the kitchen.

Champions who through hard work and rigorous training have excelled in their chosen field.

Who, from the first time they picked up a paint brush, a screwdriver or butcher’s knife, have worked to better themselves and reach the pinnacle of their profession.

Two years ago, hundreds of ambitious young Australians, set out on a journey that the 26 people here today are about to complete.

Having won through Australia’s regional and national competitions, they will pit their finely honed skills against the best young tradesmen and women from 48 countries.

And it is fitting that they do so in Calgary, host city of the 1988 Winter Olympics – a city that’s no stranger to excellence.

The 2009 team continues a fine Australian tradition.

Young Australians have participated in WorldSkills competitions since 1983, winning medals at every competition since 1985.

We’re currently ranked fifth in the world.

And it gives me great pleasure to welcome today two winners from the 2007 competition in Japan: Courtney Barton, who won a Medallion of Excellence in Floristry and Daniel Hogarth, who won a Medallion of Excellence in Plumbing. You are both inspirations to your peers.

This proud record of success is no accident.

Australia is a nation built on its hardworking, talented and innovative people.

It’s a fact recognised by a Government that is committed to helping Australians develop and thrive, particularly in these challenging economic times.

It is why this Government’s agenda is focused on increasing productivity and workforce participation, promoting skills development and the virtues of vocational education.

It is why the Government has committed $750,000 each year for three years to support WorldSkills Australia.

And it is why we are investing $3.8 billion over four years to support Australian Apprenticeships and around 400,000 Australians are already in apprenticeship schemes covering more than 500 occupations.

But back to the Skillaroos of today.

In a few days you will have the opportunity to showcase to the entire world just how competitive, innovative and skillful a nation we are.

The Deputy Prime Minister has asked me to pass on her best wishes. She is looking forward to hosting your welcome home celebration.

You have earned the right to be called Australian champions and it gives me the utmost pleasure to present to you today this ultimate symbol of Australia.

Please wave this Australian flag with pride – in the knowledge that you have the support of millions behind you.

Skillaroos, you represent the single most important resource that Australia has – our people.

And I am sure I speak on behalf of the entire Australian nation in thanking you for your ongoing dedication and in wishing you the best of luck in Calgary.

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