Friday, 20 May 2022

I had hoped we would be meeting each other in warmer weather, but nonetheless I trust you feel warmly welcomed to Government House, wherever you have come from across our great state.

This evening we have gathered to celebrate the achievements of students who completed the South Australian Certificate of Education in 2021 and received multiple merits or a Governor’s Commendation - Excellence award, or both.

Congratulations to each of you.

I hope the postponement of this ceremony has not diminished in any way your sense of pride in your accomplishments.

Indeed, perhaps it has enabled you to put it them in a broader perspective in a couple of ways.

The first is obvious.

For the past two years, not only have you excelled academically and, for many of you, in your extracurricular and community work as well, but you have done so during a pandemic, the likes of which has not been seen for a century.

That is quite something.

As a mother of four adult children aged from 21 to 30, the pre-pandemic Year 12 experience is still fresh in my mind and I think it probably always will be.

I well remember the commitment and determination it takes to achieve the results you hope for, and the ups and downs which are so keenly felt along the way - also by your parents or guardians and teachers, who lend so much support.

But while SACE and the pandemic were challenging, they will also have developed in many of you resilience and resourcefulness, of a kind you needed to dig deep to muster.

You may not yet fully appreciate the value of resilience and resourcefulness, but I believe they will stand you in good stead.

Indeed, perhaps the difference between a February SACE merit ceremony and a May one is worth pausing to think about.

That’s the second broader perspective I have in mind.

February falls squarely in that post-results “high” period, when whatever comes next  – tertiary study, vocational training, travel, employment or even a period of reflection - still lies ahead.

The end of school and the beginning of the rest of life.  It’s an exciting and somewhat daunting prospect.

But now, in May, you will know a little more, many of you anyway, about what the rest of life might look like.

You’ll have a sense, too, that school is one thing, a big thing certainly, but that university, or learning a trade, and employment can be something else, often something bigger and more challenging.

Just when you thought you had passed a huge test with flying colours, you discover there are further, larger tests.

Academic tests, tests of character, tests of stamina and nerve, moments of decision and indecision.

Sometimes, defining moments.

As Governor, one of my priorities is to encourage South Australia’s leaders and future leaders in all fields and in all parts of the state.

You have already shown yourselves to be leaders.

You know what it feels like to be successful.

Perhaps even more usefully for life and leadership, some of you will also know what it feels like to fail.

You have demonstrated resilience and resourcefulness and you will be able to draw on them again when you need to.

Many of you, including recipients of Governor’s Commendation – Excellence Awards, will have discovered the deep sense of satisfaction which comes from serving your schools and your communities and this may shape your future careers, as it did mine.

And you know how to support each other and to give generously to those who need your help.

May I suggest you be patient with yourselves and kind to each other as you navigate the new challenges you know more about now than in February, and the ones you will encounter in future.

Some of you will return to Government House one day, perhaps decades from now, perhaps to be invested in the Order of Australia for civilian, military or emergency services service to our community, perhaps as a teacher or principal at a future SACE awards ceremony, or to be sworn in as a minister or even the Premier.

Finally, I thank all the teachers and principals who set our students up to achieve their best, as well as the parents, guardians, siblings and friends who provided love and encouragement.

I thank the SACE board and staff for their commitment to delivering an outstanding certificate of education for students, equipping them with the skills and knowledge to maximise their potential as Australian and global citizens, and to face the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

In 2021 a record number of students completed their SACE, and I commend the board on this result.

Merit recipients, congratulations once again on your outstanding achievements in the SACE and my very best wishes for the future, wherever it may take you.