Monday, 8 November 2021

Rod and I welcome you to Government House to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Ionian Club.

Like many of our predecessors, we want Government House to be a place where all South Australians feel welcome.

As that very sense of welcome and friendship is at the heart of the Ionian Club, it’s wonderful that your milestone is being celebrated here.

Seventy-five years ago, a warm-hearted woman in Tasmania, Phyllis McDonald, recognised a need and was willing to make a difference.

Her own experience of loneliness and isolation when moving to Launceston inspired her to form a group for women to support each other and enjoy each other’s company and interests.

This idea fuelled the energy and drive of others to establish Ionian Clubs around Australia, New Zealand, London and two here in Adelaide, I understand that more than 30,000 women in Australia, New Zealand and London have since found friendship and a sense of belonging through these efforts.

You have been a lifeline for those who often had few friends or family nearby. I well know how important that is.

In my late teens, I was an International Exchange student, and spent a year in the Netherlands.

There were times I felt lonely and missed family and friends. There was no live video calls or instant messaging, just weekly letters and phone calls on birthdays and other special occasions.

Fortunately there were those who made me feel welcome and involved in a new community. They became, and still are, friends.

Similarly, in my diplomatic career I moved cities many times and found on each occasion there were wonderful people who smoothed the way. Those networks were invaluable.

During these challenging times of COVID-19 it has been remarkable how groups have been able to stay connected and supportive of each other, particularly those in other States where restrictions have hit hard.

In Adelaide, while you have been apart, zoom meetings provided connections, and phone calls were made to check everyone was alright.

If there are positives to come out of the pandemic, our experiences have proven that we value being part of a community and we go out of our way to care for each other. Thank you for being part of that.

Of course, isolation and loneliness are not only confined to moving to a new place. It can be part of a changing life journey – children leaving the family nest; retirement when many work networks and connections are lost; the death of friends, and relatives.

The Ionian Club has adapted over its history to include those circumstances and extend the warmth of friendship to support changing roles in society and women’s lives.

Your active program of talks, activities and meetings ensures a valuable social, intellectual and cultural network exists for women.

I thank the many club members for your commitment to the longevity of the organisation. That takes on-going energy and determination.

I wish the Ionian Club well for the next 75 years as you adapt to the future.

May you long provide “Friendship in Action”.

Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC

GOVERNOR OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA