It is Still Winter at Home: On the Occasion of an Ecumenical Service for the Victims of the Canyoning Tragedy by Sir William Deane

Sir William Deane

Sir William Deane

This is another one of the new speeches in the 2009 syllabus for Module B: Critical Study of Texts – Speeches. The speech “It is Still Winter at Home” by Sir William Deane.

It’s the shortest speech in the lot, but I find this actually gives you less to talk and analyse about. However, it works as a good comparison to Paul Keating’s speech “Funeral Service of the Unknown Australian Soldier”.

Both speeches turn individual tragedies into messages about national unity.


  • Sir William Deane was  the Governor General of Australia from 1996 for 6 years.
  • For law students, you will recognise him as Justice Deane of the High Court! He was in the majority of the Mabo case and is even mentioned in Noel Pearson’s speech.
  • Also delivered speeches at other tragedies (Threadbo, Port Arthur) as well as eulogies (Sir Donald Bradman).
  • Was well loved and regarded during his term – avoided political controversies.


  • Hundreds of people including mourning family and friends of the deceased.
  • Both Australians and Swiss audience.


  • Delivered on 5 August 1999
  • On 31 July 1999, a flash flood burst through the Saxeten River near the Swiss Alpine resort of Interlaken. It killed 21 people, including 14 Australians.
  • A memorial service as held on 5 August 1999 at Interlaken in Switzerland.

Techniques by Paragraph

I won’t do your analysis for you, but here is a general guideline:

  1. Identify where the listed techniques are in the speech.
  2. Explain their effect/purpose.

Para 1:

  • Numbering
  • Emotive language
  • Religious allusions

Para 2:

  • Statistics
  • Grandiose language

Para 3:

  • Inclusive language

Para 4:

  • Juxtaposition
  • Imagery

Para 5:

  • Alliterations

Para 6:

  • Triple utterance
  • Parallel syntax
  • Inclusive language
  • Emotive language
  • Numbers
  • Famous quotation

Para 7:

  • Anecdote
  • Numbers
  • Patriotic image

Para 8:

  • Spiritual reference

Para 9:

  • Anecdote
  • Symbolism
  • Metaphor
  • Imagery

Para 10:

  • Religious reference


  • Ecumenical – universal


16 comments for “It is Still Winter at Home: On the Occasion of an Ecumenical Service for the Victims of the Canyoning Tragedy by Sir William Deane

  1. sino
    June 15, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    “For law students, you will recognise him as Justice Deane of the High Court! He was in the majority of the Mabo case.”

    Also, I notice he was quoted in Noel Pearson’s speech as one of the judges who “canvassed the moral consequences of the Mabo case conclusion”. Its fairly interesting to find some hidden links between speeches, that looks like they were placed thee like easter eggs by the board of studies.

    • tutortales
      June 20, 2009 at 6:23 pm

      That is an interesting link between the 2 speeches! I’ll add that to the posts. Thanks!


  2. nic
    July 14, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    in having to compare the deane and the keating, would you say the main themes/ ideas for this speech would be death and unity of nation/ strength and pride in identity… ?


    • tutortales
      July 17, 2009 at 8:49 pm

      Yes, I think both Deane and Keating explore the theme of death and its universality. They also show how death can be a means of unifying a nation (or nations).

  3. olive
    October 10, 2009 at 9:51 am

    what was the immediate reception and what is the contemporary reception of this eulogy?

  4. kathryn
    March 25, 2010 at 10:05 am

    What was the immediate reception and the contemporary reception regarding this speech? My thoughts is that it was received well at the time and still is, but if you have any backup information to support it could help greatly. Also being a text that has a significant purpose it has no textual integrity, according to Wilde’s definition, but does have integrity and value.

    • tutortales
      March 27, 2010 at 8:18 am

      Sorry I can’t find much information that directly comments on its immediate or contemporary reception. Most of the newspaper articles at that time didn’t focus on Deane’s speech, but there was no criticism at all – so I think you can assume that it was received well and people thought it was appropriate/moving at that time.


      • courtney
        April 16, 2010 at 6:04 pm

        Deane’s speech has never been fully broadcast. all that has been shown are excerpts on the news after the service. so we may never gain a full understanding of how it was received by the Australian public, it is assumed that at the service it was praised and respected and this feeling reverberated around the country. At the same time it brings in the question: Are speeches relevent in this day and age if they are not fully broadcast. Look at this speech and then look at Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen generations which was or at Keating’s Address at the Funeral Service for the Unkown Soldier which was broadcast in full only two years earlier.

    • Josie
      October 7, 2015 at 5:09 pm

      Wilde’s definition of textual integrity? Could you tell me what that is?

  5. courtney
    April 21, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    sorry. Keating’s speech was several years before. however Sadat’s speech was broadcast those nations affected by the conflicts

  6. Paige
    October 9, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    hi, what does the technique triple utterance mean? and in the same paragraph (para 6) what is the example of parallel syntax? thanks

  7. john
    March 23, 2011 at 8:13 am

    i love speeches so much

  8. Chloe
    June 29, 2011 at 9:28 am

    i can’t find any symbolism within this speech… help guys?

    • VJ
      July 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm


      The bringing of the wattle signifies a piece of Australia being brought to them, to esnure they remain Australians for ever.

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