I am feeling very proud, returning home from a very exceptional evening.
South Australian, Australian of the Year
Thank you for this wonderful honour, I am truly grateful to be standing here tonight and what an amazing welcome ‘home’
I offer my gratitude and thanks to my fellow nominee’s, Nick, James and Ian who have made enormous personal contributions towards the betterment of our society, and it’s with great pride that I also stand with you.
This award signifies to me that the work i am doing and the message I convey is brilliantly being recognised and most importantly, being heard.
Peace building and indeed countering an extremist narrative is difficult to quantify – I don’t fund raise, so there’s no sum of money to show for my achievements, my success is in the silence of someone choosing a different path other than violent extremism and in the growing understanding that what unites us all is far greater than what divides.
It’s an often lonely vocation, but I stand on the shoulders of some rather noble giants and nothing will deter me from my absolute devotion and commitment to ensuring that not one more innocent and valuable life falls victim to an act of extremist violence fuelled by ignorance and hatred.
I gain a great deal of personal encouragement from the letters and messages i get from people throughout Australia and internationally who have read my book, heard a radio interview or read an article and have been moved to Re - look their own lives.
So many people want to make a positive difference, both within their lives and for the lives of others.
And so it is to all those who reach out and strive to make a difference that i would also like to acknowledge and thank.
Knowing that the precious gift of my second life is affecting positive change is part of what keeps me devoted to building a culture where peace is considered a verb, just something we all could consciously do!
Ultimately my goal is to build a world in which we could all live with confidence and empathy.
Unity is the cure for division Confidence is an antidote to Fear.
With the destructive presence of extremist ideology affecting so many lives and threatening to spread its decay, we must all stand with strength and courage and be the positive change we wish to see.
What’s imperative and powerful is that we do this together – each and every one of us.
I trust that a part from my work I have been recognised as someone who is symbolic of human triumph in the face of adversity.
That i am a living reminder that no matter what challenge life presents us with, we each have the ability and brilliance to not only face change but to reach through to the other side and find our own way of thriving.
Our life is our legacy – thank you for honouring mine and for shining a bright light on peace and community.
I was severely and permanently injured in the London bombings of 2005. I am determined to do all I can to deter anyone from following a path of extreme violent action and believe everyone can make a personal difference to create a confident global community and a sustainable peace.