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Speech given by the Governor at the Royal Melbourne Hospital's 175th Anniversary Reception.


First, I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we gather – the Wurundjeri and Bunurong People of the Kulin Nation – and pay my respects to their Elders, past and present, and to Elders of other communities who may be with us.

Tony and I are delighted to welcome you to Government House for the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s 175th anniversary.

It strikes me that much has changed since we last gathered here for your 170th anniversary celebration.

Across these last five years, our Royal Melbourne Hospital has treated Victorians caught in the terrible Black Summer bushfires, supported others through the mental toll of last year’s devastating floods and, in particular, borne the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Indeed, whilst most Victorians are eagerly returning to “normal,” you have continued to support the most vulnerable in our state.

I know many in the community have expressed their gratitude for your hard work and resilience and I hope you’ll allow me tonight to add to that chorus of thanks.

Thank you for – amongst other things – providing comfort to patients when their families were unable to visit and for organising innovative solutions to the challenges of a strained medical system.

Although brought into sharp focus by this pandemic, none of this is new to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Since its doors first opened in 1848, the Hospital has maintained its commitment to patient care. It is hard to estimate how many hundreds of thousands of Victorians have been looked after. And how many have been the beneficiaries of life saving and life changing innovation.

It was, after all, at the Royal Melbourne Hospital that Australia’s first successful kidney transplant was performed, its first cardiac pacemaker developed, its first coronary angioplasty performed and the first bionic ear electrode implanted.

In the last five years, pioneering research has continued, leading to important discoveries for the treatment of ischemic strokes, the early diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and the development of a blood test for dementia.

Behind every brilliant innovation – behind every ‘first’ – lie the real-life stories of the people who rely upon the Hospital – including in just the past year, the more than 90,000 who presented at the Emergency Department.

As you stand on the cusp of the exciting new project to build a new Arden campus and redevelop the Royal Melbourne and Royal Women’s Hospitals, this anniversary provides the opportunity to look forward as well as back.

It is an opportunity too to thank all of those in the past, as well as today, for all they do.

Thank you to the doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and researchers for giving their time and expertise to this important work.

Thank you to board members and partners for their role in ensuring the Hospital remains an integral part of Melbourne’s health care network.

And thank you to the countless volunteers and donors whose contributions reflect the altruistic spirit at the heart of the Royal Melbourne’s work.

On behalf of all Victorians, congratulations on the 175th Anniversary of the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

And it is now my pleasure to invite Minister Thomas to speak.