Legislative Council: Wednesday, May 17, 2023


Legacy Centenary Torch Relay

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (15:40): Last week, I had the absolute honour of participating in the Legacy Centenary Torch Relay 2023. The Legacy Centenary Torch Relay, presented by Defence Health, began in April in Pozieres, a town within the French provincial department of Somme. It is a town flanked by war memorials and cemeteries, surrounded by fields where hundreds of soldiers died. It is where the Legacy promise began 100 years ago as an Australian soldier held his dying mate in the trenches of the First World War and swore he would look after his family back home.

Since Federation, over 102,000 Australian servicemen and servicewomen have paid the ultimate sacrifice while wearing the uniform of our defence forces. Thousands more have been physically or emotionally wounded from their exposure to conflict. As anyone who has worked with this organisation can attest, Legacy is a part of families for life.

I know this firsthand because I am a wife of a veteran of the Iraq War. I am also a proud legatee myself, someone who is privileged to support other families like my own impacted by conflict. I am blessed with a husband and father who came home to us after service, and so I give back. Men, women, young and old, legatees have an enthusiasm for being involved in the community. In this National Volunteers Week, I encourage everyone to consider becoming involved in an organisation like Legacy, supporting widows and their families.

The 2010 Young Australian of the Year, Corporal Mark Donaldson VC, member of the Australian Army's Special Air Service Regiment, was a Legacy Youth recipient himself after his father died of a heart attack following active duty. He attests that Legacy assisted him and his family to carry on with as little disruption as possible. Mark and his brother became wards of Legacy; one of their legatees was a former member of the same Army unit their father had served in.

According to their latest annual report, Legacy South Australia and Broken Hill currently supports over 3,160 beneficiaries. The youngest widow supported is only 24 years old; the eldest is 108 years. Legacy South Australia and Broken Hill currently supports 103 children of contemporary veterans. The youngest youth supported by Legacy at the time of publication was only nine months old.

The simple promise that Legacy keeps is to provide stability, guidance and assistance that a missing partner would normally provide to their family. That comes in the form of practical support for those left behind. They play an important role in advocating for pensions, alleviating financial insecurity for veterans and their families. They have an important role to play in minimising social isolation for widows and widowers, as well as providing care and respite for those struggling with physical and mental injury upon transitioning from active service.

School fees, scholarships, uniforms, books and equipment are all items Legacy assists Legacy Youth children with. But it is also the small things that children miss when a parent is missing. The importance of a legatee cannot be overstated. I heard from a young man, Ben Cox, who was orphaned at 13 years old. His legatee was there for him. He said, and I quote:

I could call him when I wanted to tell someone how much I missed my mum or how much I missed my dad. I could call him about troubles at school, relationship advice or even simple things, like learning how to shave for the first time.

It is a special friendship that walks with families for the rest of their lives. Romans 12:9 says:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil and cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.

I believe this holds with the Legacy promise: looking after those left behind. Legacy cares for the consequences of past wars and conflicts on our defence force personnel, and they care for the next generation impacted by those terrible consequences, as Corporal Donaldson VC described.

Legacy Australia holds charity status with the ACNC and raises much of its own income to support its highly impactful services. The largest portion of funding comes from private and business donations, events, public appeals and bequests. They do receive some assistance from the state government, and I encourage that to continue, as it has done in the past, in a bipartisan manner.

I want to end today's speech by reciting The Legacy Ode, a special poem often recited at Legacy events and said for those no longer with us:

Fear not that you have died for naught

The torch you threw to us we caught.

And now our hands will hold it high

Its glorious light shall never die,

We'll not break faith with you who lie

On many a field.

Lest we forget.