Thank you very much Mr Rijken for that welcome. Ladies and gentlemen, it is an absolute delight to be with you here today. I think perhaps it’s the most satisfying in some ways – certainly perhaps the most uplifting aspect of my job, in day to day sense as the Federal Minister for Education and Training – occasions like this when I get to come and hear students and ensembles and groups like the concert band perform some of the most brilliant musical pieces that really do touch the heart, that really do lift the spirit. I want to congratulate you for the outstanding performances we’ve seen this morning, and I can think of no better way than to start every Monday by celebrating with a concert band of that calibre. So students, you are indeed incredibly lucky have that available to you each and every Monday of the school year.
Thank you in particular for the opportunity to join you for your thanksgiving service. In listening to the band perform the national anthem and the words in the national anthem that our land abounds in nature’s gifts of beauty rich and rare. It struck me that of course it is such a fitting reflection of words to contemplate on a day when you acknowledge and give thanks for all that we indeed are given and blessed within our lives, and have the good fortune, in a country like Australia, to have the opportunity of living in a rich and wonderful natural environment with wonderful and outstanding educational opportunities available to all of Australia’s children, to all Australians and to hopefully pursue the best they can be and to make the best of their lives’ opportunities.
I sometimes think of schools, in particular, as being a bit like a great recipe. In a great recipe there are many different ingredients to success, and those different ingredients have to be melded together in the right way to get the perfect outcome at the end. And in a school, there are many different ingredients to success as well. First and foremost of course, students: hardworking, ambitious, committed, thoughtful, considerate. Students are obviously the number one essential part of the ingredient list.
But behind those students are of course parents, caregivers, families, people who sacrifice to send students to schools, such as this one, people who are the first educators of children. Those people who in the very earliest years are providing the foundation stones in skills like literacy and numeracy, engaging with individuals and one another and supporting one another in family environments. Parents are of course a critical part of that ingredient in school communities.
Teachers. Teachers, support staff, administrative staff, school leadership, all of course are integral to success, and we are blessed in Australia to have an outstanding, well-trained, hard-working, committed, passionate teachers, and particularly in schools like this I pay tribute to the teachers who so often go above and beyond the hours for which they might immediately be paid for the work they put in to support students.
The broader community is of course an essential component of school environments, whether that broader community is in a geographical sense, those such as local government working with schools in their areas, whether at a local- it is local churches, parishes or the like, all of whom come together to enrich a school so it is not just an island in and of itself, but reaches out in the different aspects of the local community, into those different community organisations and of course into the local economy, businesses, employers who give opportunities for work experience and eventually, hopefully, for employment for those students in those environments. All of those different ingredients come together and of course then there’s basic things like infrastructure, the buildings.
And the buildings, in some ways, are of course the last of those pieces because it is the parents and families, teachers and staff, students and the community who give the spirit and the direction and the drive to the school, but the environment within which we learn is important and particularly the access to critical facilities and infrastructure is essential. And that’s why it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate today the opening of your new Advanced Woodworking Centre which adds to the high quality facilities available here at Temple Christian College for students to be able to learn, study, train and prepare themselves for life beyond school.
And as Mr Rijken rightly indicated, it’s important that the diversity of pathways are available for all students because Australia needs people with a diversity of skills to succeed and, indeed, a diversity of pathways all provide many different, rich outcomes at the end. Those of you who go on and choose to study a vocation trade, particularly a traditional trade based apprenticeship, will find that in some instances, your employment outcomes are stronger than those who may go to university, certainly that you may be more likely to end up running your own business, employing other Australians in different activities into the future. So, there’s rich opportunities in terms of the pursuit of the technical trades, just as there are in going on to university, other forms of further study.
I think we can safely say that the Advanced Woodworking Centre, the tech studies facilities, were a little overdue for renovation and reform if the last major work occurred in 1984, when even the Federal Minister for Education and Training may have still been in primary school [laughter] so I’m, delighted we’ve been able to support the school in finally getting around to this important piece of work.
But I acknowledge that though our funding contribution is an important contribution, the contribution of the school community to these works is even greater than our financial contribution so again I pay tribute to that broader school community who have been able to raise the funds and secure the support to be able to make works like this happen and to give that better environment, richer infrastructure, for you the students to enjoy.
So, my congratulations to all who have been a party to these renovations, from those with the initial concepts and ideas, through to architects, designers, builders and of course eventually on to now the teaching staff and students who will ensure they are put to outstanding use for many, many years to come. I hope and trust we’ll get value for money out of it which will see another 30 to 40 years pass by [laughter] before perhaps such upgrades are required to that facility although I’m sure others will enjoy them at many times in the meantime. So congratulations all, thank you very much for the chance to be with you today and I wish you every success in the future.