Thursday, 30 May 2024

Royal Geographical Society of SA 2024 Awards

Rod and I are pleased to be with you this evening for the presentation of the Royal Geographical Society of South Australia awards for 2024.

As joint patrons, it is our pleasure to have presented awards for several years now.

During this time we’ve had the opportunity to develop a strong relationship with the Society, to speak with award winners and learn about their connections to this important field of study.

I’ve had a connection with geography since my early career.

As a newly appointed diplomat on my first overseas posting in Hong Kong I was an enthusiastic member of the Royal Geographical Society.

As my career progressed, I learn more about the interconnections between geography and diplomacy.

The great challenges of the 21st century – such as the growing global population, climate change, international migration, and food security – have implications for every country in the world, and therefore the diplomatic relationships between them.

At the heart of geography is the study of places, and the relationships between people and their environments.

As Governor I have the privilege of exploring South Australia’s geography, including its many beautiful and varied landscapes, its remote and urban areas, and how our population interacts with them.

In Coober Pedy, for example, we experienced the arid desert landscape paired with cool underground buildings and learned the region’s rich and varied history – thousands of years of indigenous occupation followed by the arrival of opal hunters, seeking their fortunes, and now tourists from around the world.

In Roxby Downs I descended hundreds of metres into a working mine at Olympic Dam, and later, walked on country with indigenous man Roger Thomas.

I was half looking at the track, half looking at the sunset, when Roger suddenly bent down and picked up a flint. It had a deep impression of a thumb print and a sharp edge.

He was in tune with country in a way I would like to be.

In the City of Prospect, we enjoyed the vibrancy of a dense, inner city community.

Its public art, narrow streets and historic cottages, restaurants and cafes create a completely different experience to the one lived by people in remote South Australia.

Rod and I were taken on a tour of Prospect Road and at one point, standing in the well-known Muratti patisserie surrounded by incredible cakes, we felt a world away from those desert regions.

All of this is to say - geography is a fascinating lens through which to look at the world.

Studying geography gives you the knowledge and skills to engage with your environment, to ask questions of it, wherever you are on the planet.

It also equips you with strong technical skills, through fieldwork, sample analysis and data analysis.

These are all highly transferrable skills, desirable to employers in a range of industries.

The award winners here this evening obviously have a talent for geography, and hopefully a passion too.

I trust you will all consider continuing your geography studies, whether that’s at the secondary or tertiary level, and consider a career that encompasses this discipline.

I thank the Royal Geographical Society for running these awards each year, recognising high achieving young South Australians in the field of geography.

Your successful participation in the SA History Festival, which exposed your organisation to many newcomers, was an excellent opportunity to share your passion for geography with the broader community.

The upcoming publication of ‘Antipodean Perspectives on Geography’, a series, will provide an important platform for South Australian geographers to share their work.

Congratulations to this evening’s award winners and I wish you all the very best for your future studies and careers.

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