Message from the Chairman
The Honourable Shane L. Stone QC AC
It was 1956 in the aftermath of WWII The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was established in the UK. Like many good ideas it had been borrowed from others but the underlying ethos was to engage young people in useful, worthwhile activities that might shape and define them as useful members of society.
Initially The Award was for boys aged between 15 and 18 but a year on and girls were included. At a time when the Commonwealth was regrouping, where communities had been fractured and societies torn apart The Award was a timely exercise in community re engagement. The initial work for The Award in Australia began June 1958 under the leadership of Sir Adrian Curlewis, commencing in two Sydney Schools in 1961. The Australian Coordinating Council first met 1962, the year before we introduced decimal currency.
In 2012 we mark the 50th Anniversary of this enduring idea to help young Australians fulfil their potential, to become worthwhile contributing members of our community. In Australia through the support of many dedicated people and financial supporters we have helped to define our nation through the largest inclusive youth program in our short history. Over 750,000 young Australians have participated in The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
Being biggest doesn’t always mean best but what it does show is our reach and appeal. In this highly competitive era if the kids don’t like it they won’t do it
Like most organisations we talk about our vision, our hopes and aspirations in supporting The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Put simply it is that all young Australians regardless of their circumstances have the opportunity and the confidence to explore their potential, achieve success and be recognised for this.\
I am mindful of the comment by Gold Awardee Sam Burdon: “Before I would only dream of what I could do; now I still dream, but I also go out and do it!”
Anniversaries offer an opportunity for reflection. It’s also an opportunity to look forward. We have an impressive record of achievement spanning the last 50 years. I am confident that on the numbers alone we continue as a youth ‘program of choice’.
Annually we have over 33,000 young Australians of different socio economic backgrounds, skills, ability and physical capacity participating in The Award; yet we still miss too many who are denied the opportunity. This is our challenge in the time ahead – to grow and nurture The Award.
We can’t do it alone. This is a partnership with parents, carers, schools, government and the community at large. We are in the business of mutual obligation and make no mistake we return value; in every sense of the word we are a front line organisation. I say to people if you seriously want to make a difference then engage and support The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
We believe that the future belongs to the next generation. We are playing our role in preparing them to take Australia forward. One thing I learnt as primary school teacher and as a parent was that children learn by example.
We have a plan to grow The Award which includes a National Award Alumni Program for past Awardees to reconnect; strategies to ensure that every young Australian has the opportunity to complete The Award, regardless of their circumstances, location or background.
We are creating Open Award Centres to complement our on line technology providing access to every remote community and have upped the ante and set ourselves the goal of over 50,000 young people commencing their Award program annually.
I also know we can’t do it alone.
I am confident that going forward with your help we can make that vital difference.
The Hon Shane L Stone AC QC
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award in Australia