Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards - "The Key Makers"

When I got this job a few weeks ago the first thing I did was go back to my old primary school and give my teacher Mrs Fry a hug. 

It just seemed like the right place to start. 

Cathy started there, at Cabramatta Public School, in 1978.  And she is still there. 

Changing lives. 

Cabramatta is not a flash, wealthy part of town. 

It wasn’t when I went to school there. It still isn’t today. 

It’s full of people from around the world. Working hard. Scraping by. But they want the best for their kids. And they know the power of education. 

The kids I shared a classroom with came from everywhere from South America to Southeast Asia. 

A lot couldn’t speak English when they first came to school. 

I'm still friends with a lot of those kids. 

This sounds like a cliché, but I can tell you it’s true.

Today they are partners in law firms, pharmacists, multi-millionaire start up business owners. 

How? How does this happen?

You know the answer. 

Because of people like Cathy. And people like you. 

The same story is still repeating itself at Cabramatta Public School today. 

And countless other places across the country. 

Cast your mind back to when you were at school. Think about the teachers who taught you. 

You can still remember some their names can't you?

Now think about that one teacher who stands out. The one who shaped you. Changed you. Inspired you. 

You have now become that person.

I am sure of it.  

Paul Keating used to say a good education was like having the “keys to the kingdom”. 

A master key that unlocks every door. Every opportunity. 

If he's right, and you know he is, then you are the key makers. 

You are opening doors that would have otherwise stayed locked. 

And while not everyone who walks through those doors will realise that you opened them. They will. They will get it one day.

Like I did.

And when they do, they will say to you, what I said to Cathy a few weeks ago.

Thank you for what you taught me.