ALEX HAWKE: Well, thank you, and good morning, everybody. It's great to be here at Victoria Barracks. Actually, I've got to say on behalf of the Government, and Minister Linda Reynolds, the whole Defence portfolio, secretly, I'm really ex-cited to be here today. It's a real thrill. This is something when my office said Linda Reynolds is overseas, and I make her apologies, "Would you do this?" I thought absolutely I'll do this, because as a Sydneysider, I can remember the games that we hosted here and when you think about what we've done here in Sydney over the years with the Olympics, that great Olympic tradition that we've brought to the world from Sydney, the same effect was achieved, in my view, from Invictus here in Sydney.
Australians embraced it, I think the world embraced it, and we really added to that spirit and, you know, it's a great city and a wonderful place and I say to my friends from the Netherlands, you've got big shoes to fill. So we wish you all the very best in the work that you're going to do because Sydney is a fantastic place and put on a fantastic games, really touched the hearts of so many, and the minds, and I think really set out the future and the longevity of this important event.
I also want to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land. I want to thank, of course, Air Marshall McDonald and Brigadier Winter, for your leadership and the work that you've done over many years in setting the traditions and shap-ing the work of the Invictus Games and our Australian team and today, of course, we welcome and congratulate all our athletes who are here. Very excited to see all of you in your green and gold, resplendent here in front of Victoria Barracks. But also, I think, to welcome and congratulate our two captains, which when I first got this speech, I've been told is a secret but I don't think it is anymore, I think eve-rybody here knows but perhaps people out there don't know. I want to congratu-late and welcome Shane Bramley and Sarah Petchell for being the captains of this great fantastic team. So well done, guys. Come and stand up. I'd love you to. I don't want to be up here by my myself, that's for sure. It's really about you today.
Look, it's my pleasure to be here today, absolutely, to really help with the an-nouncement of the Australian team for the Invictus Games. We're all so very proud of our Australian team and proud of all of you as athletes and what you're going to achieve over there in the Netherlands. I'd say to the media, welcome here today, but we want to make sure that this year's games we have great cover-age of what these athletes are going to be sent to do and achieve and the strug-gles that we heard of from Air Marshall McDonald. Australians really embrace those struggles in all sorts of sport and all champion events and I know there's going to be so many great stories from the Netherlands. We want to see those stories told here in Australia this year, even if it is the wrong time zone.
Look, the Games, I think, is something that you know the importance of. You know, as a Sydneysider I know it, I think as athletes you know it and as Australi-ans we all know it, the families that are here today, I think, are reflective of how important this is to you, as former service personnel, to us as people in the Gov-ernment, people who obviously are responsible for your service and the active service that you've seen and your status as veterans, and to all Australians who understand our ongoing responsibility as a society to those we ask to serve in uniform. So we're really grateful to all of the families and friends and the people who made journeys, I know some people came from interstate, came from a long way away just to come here to today's announcement. So you should be very proud of these athletes and proud of the defence forces and what we're doing in this space.
I think we all know that the Invictus Games celebrates our Defence Force mem-bers and veterans who have been wounded, injured or become ill in their service and I think there's probably no better way of us acknowledging that than on the world stage in sport. Australians have got such a proud military tradition since formation of this country but we've also got such a proud sporting culture and put-ting those two things together, really is a very Australian journey.
When you think about the demands, the physical demands, the toil, the mental toughness required in war, the commitments and composure under pressure, the things that we demand of people, the mateship the people experience in active service, you know, you think about the same parallels in sport and the same ethos in sport at a different level. Putting them together, I think, is perhaps one of the most visionary things we've seen in recent times to help people with rehabili-tation, with recovery, just to help with getting on with life and dealing with issues.
So, you know, we thank, of course, the initiative that came from Prince Harry, we thank the traditions that have been built up by our own services and, of course, we know, and the Government's acknowledged recently with our announce-ments in the veteran space the pressures the veterans are under leaving the de-fence forces and the confronting spaces that they find themselves in.
For our wounded and injured veterans, I think this transition means coming to terms with a lot, physical, psychological impacts, and we know the games will make an enormous difference to our veterans in their transition. Hearing from Air Marshall McDonald, from Brigadier Winter, who understand the value of sport through their service with their professional lives, through their training, we know in the Hague that our athletes here will, of course, represent ten sports, competi-tors against 20 other countries and that comradeship and that mateship across countries and across services, I think, only enhances what we're talking about here through the Invictus Games.
The tenacity, I think you will see on full display. I remember watching the ABC coverage here in Sydney and I think so many people did and the ABC did a fan-tastic job of that coverage. It was inspiring to see the efforts and I think it commu-nicated a lot about the uniqueness of military service and the uniqueness of the situation people find themselves in and just the great spirit that was had in those games.
So I want to just say to everybody here, to the athletes, to the service personnel, former service personnel, the veterans, their families, everyone that made the journey, congratulations and today really is in the great spirit, it's a spirit of achievement and spirit of congratulations that we say well done on making the Australian team, our hopes and dreams are obviously behind you. Australians are very passionate about their sport, they're very passionate about their military and I think Australians will get behind you again, we'll all be behind you again, we want to see great success, we want to see great achievement and as Warren said, you know, we want to see you just get up there and do what you want to do in representing your country overseas, whatever you do we'll be proud of you.
I think on this note, you know, I would just borrow a little from the poem that in-spired the Invictus Games and anyone who hasn't read the poem that inspired the Invictus Games, it's a beautiful poem. It's well written. It's worth a read. And just to quote a little line from it: "You are the masters of your fate, you are the cap-tains of your souls, and we are all cheering you on." And that's how it finishes. We couldn't say it any better than that. The poetry in it is we'll be cheering you on, you're the masters of your own destiny, you're showing that, you're achieving on an international level and a national level. We're so very proud of you.
Congratulations on your achievements. I can't wait to see what you do in the Netherlands and, really, well done to every single person here on what you're do-ing. So thank you.