Australian Governor-General David Hurley was given warm welcome back to his hometown by Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery on Thursday on the eve of him attending an important fundraising lunch.
Cr Bradbery said the main reason the Governor-General was visiting was as special guest at Friday's Mental Health in the Workplace Luncheon being attended by 350 people at the Novotel. It will support the One Door Mental Health Clubhouse and a support program for Illawarra teenagers caring for parents with mental illness.
It is his first visit since being sworn in as Australia's 27th Governor-General on July 1, 2019. But came back several during his previous role as the 38th Governor of NSW between 2014 and 2019.
After growing up in Warrawong he joined the Australian Army in 1972. His four decade military career culminated in him becoming the Chief of the Defence Force from 2011 to 2014.
Cr Bradbery provided the Governor-General an opportunity to learn about council's environmental initiatives such as the Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) trial in 1600 households, plastic free initiatives and waste diversion.
He told him how council is proactively working to respond to climate change and how the 32 year old administration building has become a world-leader in sustainability earning a six star Green Star Rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.
"Seeing he is in the area he has asked to have a look at the council building and what we have done to bring it up to a higher standard of sustainability. It is also an opportunity for him to meet some of the community groups who have also engaged in that space including some of the surf groups who have taken on the responsibility of lessening waste".
Cr Bradbery said having a Wollongong born Governor-General with others who have reached the pinnacle in business, sport and the arts provides the city with a great honour roll of names that include people such as Anthony Warlow, Richard Tognetti, Wayne Gardner and the late Kerryn McCann.
"He is a prime example that no matter where you go and what you do, the connection to this beautiful place between the mountains and the sea is never lost".
The Governor-General is being joined on this weeks visit by his wife Linda Hurley.
"Linda and I are delighted to be back in Wollongong for the first time since I was appointed Governor-General. It is always fantastic to visit the region and catch-up with the local community," he said.
On previous visits he recalled how his childhood near Lake Illawarra served him well in preparing him for his career.
After his birth in 1953 he spent the first 18 years of his life in Warrawong.
"I am a product of all the Port Kembla schools. I virtually grew up on Port Kembla Beach."
At an Illawarra Connection dinner in October, 2012 he recalled cruising down Crown Street in his late teens in search of the best hamburger. And how when he graduated from Port Kembla High School 53 per cent of the children in his senior class were new Australians.
He said growing up in such a multicultural environment was really good.
"I have been fortunate to live in a number of countries, so that gave me the ability to walk into any community and feel at ease with people with different values, a different approach to life, a different language and different food".
Australia's new Governor-General said he received a good education at Port Kembla High School and will never forget how good the first 18 years of his life in Wollongong were.
"It was a really happy free life. I was taught well and I had a very supportive community behind me. What I remember most is growing up without any concerns or cares."
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