SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Thank you, thank you so much Mrs Mount, parents, grandparents, friends, community members, teachers, early learning educators, boys and girls, it is a real pleasure for me to be here today to share in the opening of this art exhibition and to do so wearing my official cap though of course here in a school community I am extraordinarily familiar with as a frequent visitor for drop-offs and pick-ups and every other occasion I can manage to squeeze into the schedule.

This is a wonderful exhibition, not just of children’s art, but the theming and the thought that goes behind it. The idea of ‘the rights of the child’ and how that is explored through the art of the four different rooms of the Early Learning Centre, the exploration of the right to beauty, the right to food, the right to connect with nature, the right to be a citizen. Each of those themes picking up on what are globally acknowledged rights for children, though rights that not all children have the luxury and opportunity to enjoy.

Here at Saints Girls, the girls themselves are of course incredibly fortunate, and the boys in the ELC too, to be able to enjoy those rights in [indistinct], to have people and educators, like Mrs Mount and her team, to learn and explore the boundaries of those rights. To understand the responsibilities that come with those rights. I know from having a three year old and a five year old though that sometimes their concepts of ‘rights’ aren’t quite the same as what parents may have in mind. Sometimes there’s a perceived ‘right to chocolate’, there might be a ‘right to stay up late’, a ‘right to get their own way in what they’re wearing in the morning’. They’re the battles that are the rights that of course everybody has to confront. But importantly we need to encourage and nurture that expression of their rights whilst encouraging that understanding of their responsibilities.

It’s some 57 years since the first declaration of the Rights of the Child was made, with which Australia was an early signatory, one of the founding signatory members, and is a country that can be proud of what we give to our children, the opportunities we provide to our children. But few more so than the lucky children here at St Peters’ Girls who have all the opportunities and abilities and resources and facilities they could wish for and my ambition is of course to hope and to see that all of Australia’s children have as many of the same opportunities as the lucky girls here. Can I say to you Mrs Mount, to all of the team at the ELC here at the school, thank you for all that you do for these girls, thank you for the engagement that you undertake in the community.

We know the most important factors in the education of children are their parents, the home environment, community environment and the quality of their teachers and educators. And in this event bringing all of those together in the one place to celebrate those vitally important [indistinct]. So thank you and congratulations, it’s my deep pleasure to be able to declare open your art exhibition on the rights of the child, and I understand you have a little ribbon cutting to go with it, with my little helper. And some extra helpers, even better.