On his first official visit to Kiama, Australia’s Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, and his wife Lady Lynne Cosgrove, focused their attention on youth, the success of Dementia Friendly Kiama and the importance of community involvement.
The first port of call was Kiama High, where Sir Peter congratulated the school on its efforts in becoming waste warriors, as part of the War on Waste.
He then toured Council’s SENTRAL Youth Service, located in Hindmarsh Park, and heard about the varied services offered to support the youth of our area.
While there he met with members of the Dementia Advisory Group, and heard of the international praise Kiama has had for its innovative approach of putting people with dementia at the heart of its strategy making.
A Civic Reception was held in the evening, with recognised community contributors and representatives of organsations from across the Municipality having the opportunity to speak with the Governor-General.
In his address, Sir Peter spoke about the drought affecting most of NSW.
“We’ve all been heartened by the way our fellow Australians have rallied around and showed their empathy and generosity to those struggling on the land.
“The only trouble is if you live in the big smoke, and it rains in Martin Place, you say ‘that’s it, drought’s over’, not understanding the profound nature of this challenge.
“Not understanding that it is a slow decent into despair for many people that are primary producers. This is not like a cyclone, or a bushfire, that comes all of a sudden and then you are picking up the pieces.
“It is over, and you are traumatised, but the recovery starts immediately.
“What I am saying is I do understand as Governor-General that this tragedy is slow and almost cancerous in its progress. It is driving very good people, families who for generations have been stewards of the land, down.
“And we, who live in that narrow band of population along the East Coast, need to remind ourselves that the little bit of rain didn’t matter. This drought is still on.”
In noting the achievements and contributions of the attendees at the Reception, he said, “Me being here tonight is to say I notice you and I am rapt the community is elevating people from its broader ranks that we all need to know about and applaud.”
The visit was a reunion of sorts, as Sir Peter and Mayor Mark Honey both served together in the 5th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment in 1973, when Cllr Honey was a junior officer on National Service and Sir Peter was an officer in the regular Army.
They played rugby together, and enjoyed ribbing each other about their time on the field.