Finch Hatton RSL Sub Branch President, Tammy Sprott and members, I am here today to undertake a very pleasant duty on behalf of RSL Queensland and that is to present an RSL (Queensland Branch) Certificate of Appreciation to Sub-Branch Auxiliary member Julie Harris.
Before I do that, I would like to acknowledge that usually District President, Phil Luzzi, would make this presentation. However, Phil, has agreed that I make the presentation as I was the District President when the District made the award application for Julie.
Further, before the presentation, I would also like to outline the reasons why Julie is being presented with this certificate by RSL Queensland today.
I was informed by an impeccable source that while stuck at home during the COVID lockdown at the beginning of 2020, Julie came up with the idea of undertaking a project with her Finch Hatton State School and other Pioneer Valley school students that would lead to her students learning about the lives of soldiers from the Upper Pioneer Valley District who volunteered and went off to fight in World War 1 in 1914-18.
Julie gained support from her School Principal and the Finch Hatton RSL Sub-Branch for her project and she called it “The Finch Hatton State School World War 1 Research Project”.
It seems that Julie’s passion for her project was inspired by her grandfather, Lew Harris, who was a returned World War 2 veteran, and her three other relatives who fought in World War 2.
I first became aware of Julie’s project when a District Council meeting was hosted by your Sub-Branch in July last year, at which Julie made a presentation about the Project.
I was so impressed with Julie’s initiative and work with the program that I recommended to the District Executive that District take steps to have Julie’s efforts recognised by the RSL.
I note that Julie was also awarded the Department of Veteran Affairs ANZAC Day Schools’ Award Certificate of Appreciation in 2021 and the Finch Hatton State School was awarded a Certificate of Excellence in the same award program.
The story of ANZAC and its origin is iconic with in our nation’s social fabric and is very much a part of Australia’s history and DNA.
At a time when there is political debate regarding the inclusion of the ANZAC Legend into our school curriculum and the need to commemorate ANZAC Day each year, Julie as a teacher, and through her project, has instilled in her young students a passion for Australia’s war history and taught them respect for the fallen and those who served and returned, and this will in time preserve the memory and records of those from the Pioneer Valley who suffered and died for Australia during World War 1.
Julie, your motivation, and initiative as an auxiliary member of the Finch Hatton Sub-Branch, and as a teacher in planning and directing this worthy project for your students is inspirational and commendable and RSL Queensland is sincerely grateful.