Wednesday, 14 February 2024

St Mary's College Ceremony

I am pleased to join you for this ceremony to acknowledge recent graduates for their achievements in the 2023 SACE, as well as senior student award winners.

Thank you to student leaders for your warm welcome upon arrival today.

It’s been my pleasure to host St Mary’s school captains as guests at a Government House reception for South Australian school leaders for the past two years, and I look forward to seeing your current leaders at Government House in late 2024.

As patron of Debating SA, I am also proud that St Mary’s students have taken part in this debating competition for 20 years – an excellent way to develop leadership and communications skills.

Last week at Government House we hosted the SACE Merit Ceremonies, and I congratulate all the St Mary’s graduates who attended to receive their merit certificates.

In addition to the 24 St Mary’s graduates who received an ATAR of 90 or more, 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 members of the Class of 2023 celebrate their achievements and enjoy their extended break, I’m sure you are also all looking to the next phase of your lives.

It can be both exciting and somewhat daunting.

You may have a sense that school is one thing, a big thing certainly, and soon you will come to appreciate that university, or learning a trade, and employment can be something else, often something bigger and more challenging.

Just when you thought you had passed a huge test with flying colours, you discover there are further, larger tests.

Academic tests, tests of character, tests of stamina and nerve, moments of decision and indecision.

Sometimes, defining moments.

Our graduates here today – in fact many of you, as students – will know what it feels like to be successful.

Perhaps even more usefully for life and leadership, some of you will also know what it feels like to have failed, or not done as well as you might have hoped.

During my career, I have learned that a deeper sign of success is not only when you succeed at your goal.

It’s when you choose to learn from obstacles on your path, and draw on your resilience and resourcefulness to overcome them.

Over time, this will develop your character, as well as give you an inner sense of strength and confidence to set yourself ambitious goals.

Resilience is crucial to any pursuit of leadership, and I encourage you all to think about opportunities to be a leader in your school community, or for our graduates, how you may pursue this in the next phase of your lives.

St Mary’s has a long history – 155 years, in fact – 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 – we were the first Australian state to enable women to vote and run for parliament, and are home to the first Australian university, Adelaide University, to permit 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 Mary’s places on social justice and service, both in the school community and beyond.

As Governor of South Australia, I have the privilege of getting to know young people in local communities right across the state.

I have seen the impact that volunteering can have, how it enriches the lives of Australians and the amazing contributions of those who give of their time and talents.

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 be active citizens in service to their communities.

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

Congratulations once again to our high achieving students here today.

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, and graduates, as you move out into the world.

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.

Coming events