Australia Day Ambassador’s address

Diana Butler OAM.

SERENDIPITY provided New Norfolk’s Australia Day celebration with an Australia Day Ambassador with an unexpected local connection.

Transferred from another Australia Day Ambassador posting due to the unavailability of Mitch McPherson, Launceston nurse Diana Butler continued the tradition of inspirational speakers who have shared their story at New Norfolk’s Australia Day events.

Mrs Butler was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours, for her humanitarian work in Africa. Her visit to the Derwent Valley for Australia Day was something of a homecoming as Mrs Butler is a member of the Allwright family, formerly of Rathmore at Hollow Tree.


Educated at the Gretna State School and Glenora District School before becoming a boarder at St Michael’s Collegiate School, the smoky conditions of the Australia Day weekend reminded Mrs Butler of her first day at the Gretna school on February 7, 1967 – the day of the Tasmanian bushfire disaster known as Black Tuesday. “My twin brother and I were not able to get home on the school bus that day and stayed with the Binny family at Gretna,” Mrs Butler said.

Another of Mrs Butler’s brothers, Jim Allwright, lives and farms at Jones River, near Ellendale, and is deputy mayor of the Central Highlands Council.

Employed as the after-hours nurse manager at the Launceston General Hospital, Mrs Butler has a background in emergency nursing. In 2007 she co-founded the Care for Africa Foundation to address poverty, lack of water, medical and educational services in Tanzania.

Mayor Ben Shaw presents an Australia
Day pin to Diana Butler.

Mrs Butler said she was proud to be part of the Australia Day Ambassador program, noting that ambassadors were participating in celebrations right across Australia. Derwent Valley mayor Ben Shaw invited Mrs Butler to perform the flag-raising ceremony and later presented her with an Australia Day Ambassador pin.

The following is a lightly edited version of Mrs Butler’s Australia Day address given at New Norfolk on Saturday:

“Today I am going to talk about kindness and purpose. I’ve always approached my life from this prospective. Kindness and purpose are at the very core of my existence and all that I do. In particular my life as a mother of three wonderful well-adjusted successful young men; as a nurse; and in my creation of Care for Africa as the co-founder and CEO.

“Care for Africa works in remote Tanzanian communities that live in extreme poverty. We facilitate lasting change through the development water, health and education which is sustained through the empowerment of Women. This is all initiated and driven from the people.

“Having a purpose makes it impossible to just merely exist. When you have a definite reason for living, a ‘why’ behind every action, your passions and talents will drive you toward a happy fulfilling destination.

“Kindness is fundamental to human existence. We are thrust into the world as newborns and enriched with kindness of our parents nurturing for the ensuring years. Humans are the only mammals with a prolonged post-gestational period. Other creatures rely on the support for a brief time before becoming self-reliant. We are powerless at birth and depend on our caregivers to provide for our needs. Therefore, kindness is sewn into the framework of our DNA. We are literally wired for kindness.

Australia Day Ambassador Diana Butler OAM speaking at
New Norfolk on Saturday.

“Lack of connectivity in our society is the very source of our lack of kindness. It is the mother’s kindness that nurtures her child to find its true purpose in life. It is the nurse that holds the hand of the dying and grieving through their depths of despair to allow them to find purpose to keep going.

“It is the volunteer that travels to the impoverished community in Africa that empowers to give purpose to the people to escape their lives of poverty. It is the volunteer firefighter that gives up his time to fight fire to allow his fellow human to continue their life after the fires with purpose.

“Our Australia Day award recipients have kindly given of their purpose to allow for a better life for all.  We all have kindness in our hearts – so let our kindness reign supreme to allow and encourage our families, friends, communities & all to find and fulfill their true purpose in life.

“It is through events such as Australia Day that our true sense of community and purpose can be expressed, and this is only made possible through the kindness, hard work and connections of many people within the community.

“I would like to thank the Derwent Valley Council and the Tasmanian Government for inviting me here today. Happy Australia Day everyone – my best wishes for the coming year.”

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