22 February 2009, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia
To each and every one of you sharing this quiet. To those in all the towns about. To those in homes, in prayers, in pubs, in hospitals, in city streets. To those in the relief centers, the staging points. To those who have assembled here. To those buried in each other's arms, holding each other's hands, wiping each other's tears. To those trembling still. To the children in wonder. To those who answer the call from far and wide, in yellow, in green, in orange, in blue, in khaki, in white, and under the cross of red. And those still dusted in black.
To those pitching the canvas, those under it, those who have lost homes, lost livelihoods. To family and friends of those who have perished. But most of all, to those who have seen the flames. To those who have been blinded by the darkness of the day, smelled the smoke, heard the roar, and then in turn, been deafened by the silence.
As simple message is, we are as one. Victoria is as one. You have our hearts, you have our hands. We could quell these fires with tears, but tell your stories. Tell your stories and let's lift the sadness together. Victoria at its most ferocious is now at its finest.