Tuesday, 18 July 2023
Reception for 28th Youth Parliament
I warmly welcome you all to Government House and congratulate you on your participation in the Youth Parliament.
Welcome back to those who participated last year, and a special welcome to those who have travelled long distances to take part in this program.
Today we gather in the oldest Government House in Australia. Here in the ballroom, we are surrounded by many of the symbols of our Constitutional Monarchy.
It is here at Government House that I as Governor sign the Bills that have been passed by the Parliament of South Australia to make them part of the law of South Australia.
I regularly preside over a meeting of the Executive Council, attended by two Cabinet ministers, which takes place in the library just over there.
By participating in the Youth Parliament, you have engaged in debate, in a place where debates matter. You have shown leadership.
As a former diplomat and head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and as Governor, I am often asked about what makes a good leader.
I believe a good leader is one who listens, is generous in sharing opportunities, genuinely encourages the sharing of ideas and expertise, actively seeks and embraces diversity and diversity of opinion, provides helpful feedback and rewards effort and achievement.
We need leaders who have vision, integrity, humanity and deep self-awareness, including of their vulnerabilities.
I commend you for being on a path as leaders. You are empowering yourselves and your peers to gain the skills, confidence and knowledge to participate fully in our civic processes and be advocates for change.
Change that will strengthen our community.
The range and depth of issues you are debating is impressive - statutory duty of care on social media platforms, soft plastic recycling, youth vaping reduction, human rights – all relevant, none easily remedied.
Youth brings a different perspective, new ways of doing things, and a deep care about the world you are inheriting.
You may think, I am young, would my voice be heard? The answer is yes.
You may think, there are so many big issues confronting us today – climate change, poverty, homelessness, protecting the environment – can I do something as just one person. The answer is yes.
An excellent example of something simple that can have positive impact was an entry in the Governor’s Civics Awards from Prospect Primary School, which focused on changing the name of the Stranger’s Gallery in the House of Assembly to the People’s Gallery.
After writing to the local MP, Parliament voted on the matter and the name has been changed thanks to young people believing that such a change would be more inclusive.
Just one word can change perceptions. After all, people should not be considered strangers when viewing the workings of our democracy.
Within that democracy I am proud to perform my role as Governor.
This can be encapsulated the three ‘C’s:
- Constitutional: following the political process; upholding the Constitution ‘constitutional umpire’ while remaining apolitical.
- Ceremonial: Opening of Parliament, ANZAC Day.
- Community: hosting/attending events including receptions
It is also my great pleasure to host, every year, the Governor’s Civics Awards that I mentioned earlier.
The skills and knowledge you’re developing in Youth Parliament would certainly assist your participation in these awards where students respond to a history or civics question.
I thank YMCA South Australia for running this program, and the Youth Parliament Taskforce, who volunteer as mentors.
I wish the students all the very best for the future, wherever your passions lead you. I trust you will always remain actively engaged citizens.
I hope you will all stay in touch through my Facebook and Instagram pages and learn more about the role of Governor and see how the achievements and service of South Australians are recognised.
And maybe one day we will even see some of you in Parliament or here at Government House.