Thursday, 07 March 2024

St Dominic’s Priory Investiture Mass

I am pleased to join you for this ceremony to recognise student leaders, from reception to year 12, as well as the Year 12 Class of 2024.

I have recently visited both Cabra Dominican College and St Mary’s College, and it is a pleasure to be among the Dominican education community once again today.

Thank you to Head Prefects Jasmine and Vanessa for your warm welcome.

It’s been my pleasure to host St Dominic’s Priory College Head Prefects as guests at a Government House reception for South Australian school leaders in previous years, and I look forward to seeing your current leaders at Government House later this year.

As patron of Debating SA, I have been pleased to see that St Dominic’s students have taken part in this debating competition for many years – an excellent way to develop leadership and communications skills.

Last month at Government House we hosted the SACE Merit Ceremonies, so let me once again congratulate the St Dominic’s graduates who attended to receive their merit certificates[1].

And, lastly, I am pleased to see that the Class of 2023 received a 100% SACE completion rate.

This speaks to the hard work and dedication of every single graduate, as well as their teachers, parents and caregivers.

As the Class of 2023 begins the next phase of their lives, a St Dominic’s education standing them in good stead, Year 12 students here today are already well into the 2024 school year.

You may have already decided what you’d like to do next year and be working towards gaining entry into a course at university or TAFE.

Or, you may still be questioning what you’d like for your future.

When I left school, I thought Law would be a good thing to do but found it wasn’t for me and settled instead on Economics at the University of Adelaide.

Sometimes it takes a while to find that combination of what you love and are good at. In my experience it’s worth persevering until you do.

This led me to a career after graduation in foreign affairs, eventually becoming the first female Australian Ambassador to China and subsequently the first female head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, after which I returned to South Australia to become Governor.

None of this was on my radar when I was young.

I share this with you to show that no-one knows exactly where their life’s journey will take them. Hopes and dreams change. The journey has many twists and the road can sometimes make an unexpected turn.

I have learned through life that resilience, the ability to learn from times when things don’t go as you would like, and a willingness to say ‘yes’ to new opportunities, are more important than trying to plan out your future perfectly.


St Dominic’s has a long history of empowering its students and producing confident, compassionate young women who go on to become community leaders.

Many firsts in terms of gender equality have happened right here in South Australia. As you will undoubtedly all know, we were the first in the world to enable women to vote and run for parliament, and are home to the first university in Australia, the University of Adelaide, to allow entry to female students.

The first woman Supreme Court judge and the first female Governor was also South Australian - my predecessor, the late Dame Roma Mitchell.

What might you be the first woman to do?

I am also pleased to see the focus St Dominic’s places on social justice and service, both in the school community and beyond – as do all Dominican schools.

And in this regard, I see an immediate connection with your school theme for 2024, ‘In the light of truth’, inspired by the Dominican motto of ‘truth’, to which the Sisters who founded your school 140 years ago were dedicated, and to which your community remains committed today.

I encourage you to pursue opportunities for service at school, and in your lives beyond.

A well-functioning democracy requires all of our society, including young people, to be involved as active, informed citizens. Diversity of participation is what helps make such a system strong.

And by the way, service is one of the main paths by which adult South Australians are invited to Government House, as well! I look forward to seeing you there in the years to come.

The Governor’s Civics Awards are presented annually and encourage students to deepen their understanding of the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship, as well as to be active citizens in service to their communities.

We’d love to see some entries from St Dominic’s this year – teachers can find out more on the Education Department or Government House websites.

Congratulations once again to our student leaders here today. I encourage you to spend at least as much time listening – to your fellow students and each other – as you do speaking as leaders. Listening is such an important leadership skill.

Staff, thank you for all that you do to assist your students, both academically and in their broader lives, including their spiritual lives.

Thank you also to the families, caregivers and friends who offer students, particularly those in the senior years, the moral and practical support they need to thrive.

Students, I wish you the very best as you continue your schooling.

May you all pursue your highest potential, and in doing so, contribute not only to your own success, but the success of our community, our state, our country and our world.

[1] 13 merits were achieved by St Dominic’s Class of 2023: https://stdominics.sa.edu.au/why-st-dominics/student-achievements/

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