SPEECH – Gallipoli scholarship is a testament to Turkish-Australian relationship after war
CANBERRA – 24 May, 2021
How we honour the service and sacrifice of those who have fought to defend our country is an important reflection of who we are and what we value.
A big part of this is the recognition we provide through memorials and commemoration.
But acts of recognition that seek to provide opportunities to our following generations, and bring Australians together – these are the most special kinds of recognition.
This is what we’re acknowledging here today, and I’m pleased to rise to speak in favour of this motion acknowledging the Gallipoli Scholarship Fund and the Mustafa Kemal Ataturk Bursary.
The Gallipoli Scholarship is a great story.
It was originally established by veterans of the Great War.
They wanted to provide opportunities for the descendants of veterans to pursue higher education.
Australian citizens who are the descendants of ANZAC Veterans who served in any peace or conflict operation since the First World War may apply.
While the scholarship recognises academic achievement, weighting is given to the circumstances of the applicant, to ensure that support flows to the most deserving candidates.
The scholarship fund has since expanded, and today we’re talking about an important new development.
The Turkish-Australian community has come together to create a new bursary under the scholarship fund.
The Mustafa Kemal Ataturk Memorial Bursary will from next year support even more young people to pursue higher education.
I attended its launch at the Australian War Memorial here in Canberra in March.
It was great to join with others to mark this important occasion.
Ataturk was the commander of Ottoman Forces at Gallipoli, and went on to found and lead the modern state of Turkey.
It is poignant that a scholarship fund named for the bravery and sacrifice of our ANZACs in their first great engagement will offer a bursary named for the commander of their adversaries.
Deputy Speaker, I’ve been to Gallipoli on ANZAC Day – it’s an incredibly moving experience.
At the site there’s a bronze bust of Ataturk, inscribed with this following quote, honouring enemy soldiers who died in Turkey:
“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives; you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore, rest in peace.
“There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us, where they lie side by side here in this country of ours.
“You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
“After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.”
It’s an incredibly generous sentiment expressed by Ataturk on behalf of the Turkish people.
The power of the Gallipoli story rests in capacity to bring people together, and this Bursary is a wonderful example of this.
Turkish-Australians have made an outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Australia.
This Bursary demonstrates the dividends possible in the aftermath of war.
This scholarship fund, and this new bursary, is a living memorial to the sacrifice of our ANZACs.
But in a larger sense, its stands as a reminder of our subsequent friendship with Turkey, and the ongoing contributions of Turkish-Australians.
It will directly improve lives – creating opportunities and making higher education a real possibility for those who would otherwise be denied it.
This is a great Australian story.
None of this would be possible without the hard work of the Gallipoli Scholarship management committee, including its Chairman, Michael Smith.
Michael has had a distinguished career of service, retiring from the Army as a Major General.
He also served as the founding Executive Director of the Australian Civil-Military Centre.
He is here in the gallery today with another great Australian, Omer Incekara.
Omer is the Chair of the Ataturk Scholarship.
The Ataturk Scholarship contributed the Bursary to the Gallipoli Scholarship Fund.
I thank Omer and Michael for their ongoing contributions.
I represent a large community of veterans back home, and I look forward to talking further with them about the Gallipoli Scholarship, and the possibilities it entails.
I encourage all members and senators to do the same.