Tuesday, April 26

Welcome everyone to Government House to celebrate the achievements of Australia Award recipients and New Colombo Plan scholars.

Australia has for decades viewed education as an investment in our region, in our regional and bilateral relations, in our shared future and, very importantly, in individuals.

This vision was first enshrined in the original Colombo Plan more than 70 years ago.  South Australia after World War II was a destination for students under the plan and close relationships with leaders in the region were founded during this time.

And the vision has evolved over time, including the New Colombo Plan and the Australia Awards, and is represented in its contemporary guise by you, here, today.

In my previous role as an Australian diplomat, I was privileged to see first-hand how people-to-people engagement strengthened understanding and co-operation between countries.

That deepening of relationships is essential if we are to chart a productive future for the region, based on shared values and enduring links between institutions, universities, businesses and people.

The Indo-Pacific is our place in the world.

Whether a large nation or smaller developing country, there are challenges that are common: regional security, economic development, climate change, harnessing technology, ensuring healthy futures for our citizens, water and food security.

And to complicate matters, all these must now be seen through the prism of recovery from the global pandemic.

COVID-19 meant we all had to reorientate our plans, reset our priorities and respond to emerging national, regional and global imperatives.

In your own lives, you have had to overcome the challenges of disruption to studies, border closures, travel restrictions, being apart from loved ones and embrace online learning and the constrictions on fully participating in cultural life.

Yet during that time you also learned to be resourceful, nimble and resilient and gained experiences that will be advantageous in navigating the next challenge.

Here in this courtyard, we have a collective of immense expertise in areas as diverse as public administration, medicine, law, social work, agribusiness, environment, disability, economics, education, engineering, language science, political science, international development, heritage and population studies.

As future leaders in your chosen fields, you will play a part in progressing our mutual desire for a strong, safe and prosperous region.

To those Australian students who have had the opportunity to study and undertake an internship or mentorship overseas, I trust this experience has not only deepened your expert knowledge but also expanded your understanding of different cultures and environments.

To those from overseas who are approaching the end of their studies or short course and will return home, I hope this is part of a life-long connection with South Australia.

I am sure that during this time you have discovered why the 2021 Economist’s Global Liveability Index named Adelaide as Australia’s most liveable city and the world’s third most liveable city.

Contributing to that is our commitment to multiculturalism which has forged abiding cultural and spiritual bonds which have developed over many generations.

Looking beyond our borders, those bonds are a valuable enabler for enhanced trade and economic development.

Again, congratulations for your commitment.

As you progress in your professional careers, I hope you will actively draw on your study experience in South Australia, or overseas, and use it as a platform for your next endeavours in driving change and development.

Please continue to think of South Australia as an enduring partner in your careers.