Tuesday, 20 February 2024

Governor's Civics Awards

Rod and I welcome you all to Government House to celebrate the winners of the 2023 Governor’s Civics Awards.

On 28 December last year, Proclamation Day, I had the pleasure of presenting the majority of primary school awardees with their medallions at the Old Gum Tree in Glenelg.

Congratulations once again to these students.

This afternoon we have gathered to present the remaining awards to individual recipients, mostly secondary school students, as well as winners in the Group and Schools categories.

Students, from your thoughtful award entries, which focus on topics including emerging technologies, environmental sustainability, wellbeing, diversity and inclusion - as well as your contributions to this afternoon’s roundtable discussion - you have demonstrated an excellent understanding of one of the most important aspects of being South Australian: active and informed citizenship in our multicultural and democratic society.

In my former role as an Australian diplomat, I observed how governments work in many other countries, and I know that our system of government, while not perfect, works pretty well.

I also know it works best when we all exercise our rights and responsibilities and put forward ideas for improvement.

South Australia has a rich history of leadership.

We were founded on the principles of a free democracy which encouraged diversity, free thinking, freedom of religion and free enterprise.

We were the first place in Australia to grant women right to vote and stand for Parliament; and we were the first Australian colony to adopt the legal provision that evidence from Aboriginal people could be accepted in courts of law.

These are just a few examples, but ones of which we can all be proud.

As Governor, it is a pleasure to visit schools and meet students across South Australia, city and country, state, independent and Catholic.

I am impressed and inspired by the consideration that these students, and our award winners, give to exercising their rights and responsibilities as citizens.

You are also taking action in your school communities and beyond to exercise this citizenship.

From formal leadership roles to participation in social justice clubs and activities, you are educating yourselves on local and global issues of concern while playing an active role in building strong communities.

In this way, you are also preparing yourselves to be future leaders and active citizens of your workplaces, families and society.

Students, civics is for life: what you learn in school and civics will always be useful.

When you learn how to participate actively and make positive change, it will enable your generation to shape things for the future.

The actions you take matter. Casting your vote in elections once you turn 18 and possibly one day standing for election yourself.

Devoting your time and energy for causes you believe in and for people less fortunate than you, matters.

What role do you want to play in shaping our community?


Entries for the 2024 awards are now open, and information is currently being distributed to schools and is available online.

I encourage everyone – teachers, students, parents – to spread the word about the awards, and if you would like, to follow me on Instagram and Facebook @governorsouthaustralia.

Much of what I post acknowledges active and engaged citizenship in all its many forms.

Principals and teachers, thank you for taking the time to learn about the awards and build them into your civics curriculum.

Students, congratulations once again on receiving an award in 2023.

Service is the primary route by which most South Australians visit Government House, and if you continue your journey as active citizens, no doubt many of you will make further visits in the years to come. I look forward to seeing you next time. 

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