Monday, 17 January 2011

Comes the hour, comes the man (or woman)

I have just returned from Queensland where we have experienced the worst floods since 1974. Entire communities have been devastated. Out of this misery has emerged the shining example of the indominatable Australian spirit. Complete strangers risking their lives to save others, incredible stories of heroism and the quiet pride, determination and resilience of those who have lost everything. And the emergence of a crisis leader in the mould of wartime politicians; Anna Bligh, Premier of Queensland.

Communicating during a crisis is never easy. Managing the balance between empathising with loss, creating a shared identity and establishing strong leadership to allow people to move forwards is a challenge. The most memorable speeches acknowledge the darkness of the times whilst identifying the qualities which will allow a people to move on (The classic example of this must be Churchill's speech made after the Dunkirk evacuation, a stirring use of rhetoric; "We shall fight them on the beaches.... we will never, never surrender.") Ms Bligh gave an incredibly moving speech which spoke directly to Queenslanders and seems to have encapsulated the incredible fortitude of these incredible people.

My thoughts are with the people of Queensland as they try to make sense of the events of the last week and with Premier Bligh as works tirelessly to put her state back together again.

The Sydney Morning Herald's coverage

The speech in full. I would recommend listening rather than watching so you can focus on the words alone

Winston Churchill's speech in full

More about Anna Bligh and a link to donate directly to the Queensland Flood Appeal