The program this week focused on international engagement and celebrating Victorian organisations and people who have made significant contributions to our State.
Promoting Victoria’s international, economic, social and cultural interests, both at home and abroad, is an important component of the Governor’s contemporary role. Throughout the week, the Governor met with a number of new Heads of Mission on their first official visits to Victoria, including Her Excellency Pernille Kardel, Ambassador of Denmark and His Excellency Mr M Allama Siddiki, the High Commissioner of Bangladesh. Both meetings were an opportunity to further develop Victoria’s international relationships and discuss future opportunities for partnerships in trade, education and culture.
This week the Governor and Mr Howard also hosted trade delegations from both London and Paris. On Thursday, the Governor held a dinner in honour of the Right Honourable Nicholas Lyons, Lord Mayor of the City of London. The Lord Mayor of the City of London is an international ambassador for the UK’s financial and professional services sector, the Lord Mayor also heads the City of London Corporation, the governing body of the Square Mile. Alderman Lyons was on an official three-day visit to Victoria. Accompanied by a delegation of finance and superannuation companies, the visit provided an opportunity to expand and build on Victoria’s relationship with the City of London, further strengthening business and financial ties between Victoria and the UK.
On Friday, the Governor hosted a dinner in honour of Valérie Pécresse, President of the Île-de-France Regional Council. Centred on Paris, Île-de-France is one of France’s smallest regions by land area but is home to 12 million people and contributes around a third of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. French Regions are responsible for several functions including economic development, the environment, transport, science, education, vocational training, cultural affairs, and regional planning. The President was accompanied by a trade delegation. The visit to Melbourne comes at a time when Victoria is strengthening its engagement with France and Europe. The Victorian Government has recently opened a trade and investment office in Paris. This is the newest office in the Victorian Government Trade and Investment network, and it will continue to build on the already strong business and trade links Victoria shares with France and Europe more broadly. The dinner in honour of President Pécresse was an opportunity to further strengthen the relationships and collaborations across urban transport, hi-tech start-ups, and major sporting events and infrastructure.
On Sunday, the Governor and Mr Howard attended the State Memorial Service for Dame Olivia Newton-John AC DBE at Hamer Hall. Dame Olivia was a British-Australian actress, singer and activist, best known for her role as Sandy Olsson in Grease. Later in life, she became an activist for cancer research following her own experience of breast cancer. She partnered with the Austin Health Hospital to create the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre. Learn more about the work of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre here.
Supporting organisations and charities that benefit the Victorian community is a key element of the Governor’s community engagement program. On Thursday, the Governor hosted a reception to acknowledge and celebrate the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation Centenary. Established in 1923 by the then Lord Mayor, Sir John Swanson, the Foundation currently focuses on addressing the key issues affecting Greater Melbourne. This includes housing, economic stability, philanthropy and caring for the environment. Speaking to guests, the Governor congratulated the Foundation on its 100-year anniversary and thanked members for their role in supporting the broader Melbourne community. Read the Governor’s speech here.
On Friday, the Governor visited Pope Road Kindergarten in Blackburn. The connection between Government House and Pope Road Kindergarten is long with Lady Brooks, wife of Governor, Sir Reginald Alexander Dallas Brooks KCB CMG DSO, officially opening the preschool in 1952. The Governor met with children in the three-year-old program and read a story to them before touring the kindergarten. The Governor also met with Leanne Mits, Director of Pope Road Kindergarten to discuss the Preschool’s approach to early education. Ms Mits was awarded Early Childhood Teacher of the Year Award in 2019 and received an OAM for her service to early childhood education.
Presiding at investitures for the Order of Australia and other awards is an important component of the Governor’s contemporary role. On Wednesday, the Governor presided at the investiture of Professor Paul Kane AM as an Honorary Member of the Order of Australia. Professor Kane was invested for significant service to literature, particularly through the promotion of Australian arts, poetry and emerging talent.
Further acknowledging Victorians through the Order of Australia, the Governor and Mr Howard also hosted a lunch for some of the many recipients of the Companion of the Order of Australia. The lunch was an opportunity to bring together a diverse group of people from across business, the law, the arts, industry and sport to thank them for their significant contribution to the State.