Gillard remembers father as she returns to work

Julia Gillard has returned to work with a speech in which she has reflected on spending her first Christmas without her father.

Ms Gillard spoke in Adelaide, the city her parents chose to make their home when they migrated from Wales in 1966.

The Prime Minister delivered her speech in Glenelg's Old Gum Tree park, near the site where Governor John Hindmarsh proclaimed South Australia on this day in 1836.

"More than 170 years on ... this is a rare and important day, when our civic leaders publicly reflect on what this city of Adelaide and this state of South Australia mean to our nation and our people," she said. "But for me, this time of year, here in Adelaide, is one of personal reflection."

"This is the city where I grew up. This is the city of my childhood memories. This is the city my father and mother chose to be their home in 1966. This is the city where my family will make its future."

"These public and private reflections are brought together for me here at Glenelg every year on the 28th, because in his ships Hindmarsh brought more than British custom and law, more than a government to establish; he brought men and women and their families."

Ms Gillard said the task of leaders was to meet the changing needs of families of every shape and size.

"Each year when I come to Adelaide, I get to celebrate the next step my niece and nephew have taken in their adult lives – even though it feels not so long ago we talked about their favourite teachers and school friends," she said.

"Each year my parents have got older, too, and this year was our first without Dad."

Ms Gillard's father John died unexpectedly at the age of 83 in September, while Ms Gillard was attending the APEC summit in Russia.

"Like so many families today, my family knows what it is to wrestle with the options and choices ahead for an ageing parent."

"Much has changed in the way we live, even in the years I have been coming here to Glenelg to address this day," Ms Gillard said.

"What doesn't change is that the future of the city, the state, the country, relies on the hard work and resilience of the families who live here. What doesn't change is that building the future requires leadership, facing up to tough decisions, optimism and unity."

This story Gillard remembers father as she returns to work first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.