VICTORIA Cross winner Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith has inspired Ipswich Girls' Grammar School students to define their futures by the way they live their lives.
The Digger, renowned for his heroic efforts drawing fire away from colleagues in Afghanistan in 2010, spoke at the IGGS Anzac Day ceremony yesterday.
The veteran of three tours of Afghanistan and two of East Timor told the students of his wife Emma's former school that you only failed in life when you stopped trying.
"What I'd urge people this Anzac Day to strive for is to be able to help their community regardless of what their job is," he said.
"If they're a gardener or lawyer it's irrelevant. Everybody can give back to their community."
He used the community's response to the 2011 floods as an example of the Australian spirit.
"Everyone stood up and helped each other out and that's what being a good Australian is all about," he said.
"I think it's what all Australian kids need to hear. They need to remember how Australian spirit was forged, which was initially by the Anzacs.
"But all service men and women in today's defence force and those before us maintain that ethos and those values, so I think it important for everybody in their own communities to maintain that spirit."
Head girl Lara Turner said Cpl Roberts-Smith's motivational address was what they had expected from the war hero.
"I feel inspired to be better.
"People like him and others are giving everything they have so we can live our lives in peace," she said.
The address was the first Cpl Roberts-Smith had given at an all- girls school, and he was pleased it was at his wife's old school.
"It was great to be able to come back to Emma's old school. It was pretty special, particularly for her to see her old teachers."
Tale of valour
In 2010 Cpl Roberts-Smith was part of a troop of the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan conducting a helicopter assault to capture a senior Taliban commander.
Two soldiers were wounded in action and the group was pinned down by enemy fire.
The corporal exposed his own position in order to draw fire away from his patrol.