Friday, 20 October 2023

St Peter's College Year 12 Speech Day

I’m very pleased to be here today to celebrate the Year 12s and the culmination of their schooling.

Congratulations on reaching the end of the school year.

I know that final exams are still ahead of you – in fact for some have already started – but I encourage you to take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve come this year.

From my own memories of Year 12 – which remain remarkably fresh in my mind, and no doubt in many of those in this hall also - and from watching my four adult children go through the experience, I know that Year 12, with its workload and other pressures, can be a very challenging time.

So, too, the pressure to know definitively what you will do next, or at least to have a good answer to what may feel like interminable questioning on the subject.

The triumphs and setbacks keenly felt along the way, are felt also by your parents or guardians, who are there to lend support and provide a wise sounding board.

Year 12 is also a time where many happy memories are made – time with friends, the school formal, sports day and other activities.

I know that your school community is very proud of the way you have all handled your final year of schooling.

I hope you feel a sense of pride in what you have achieved.

My late grandfather Ken and father Ian were both old scholars of this school and my brother Stuart is an old scholar too.

They all took great pride in being ‘Saints’, and in being members of Dacosta House.

As former diplomat and a teacher, my husband Rod was fond of telling his students that as Australian citizens, we have won the lottery of life. A global perspective makes that abundantly clear.

You have had the added good fortune of being part of an exceptional community of learning, here at Saints, where the values of truth, respect and service are lived every day.

You have spent your days learning in the same classrooms and playing on the same fields as three Nobel Laureates, ten Australian Premiers, 42 Rhodes Scholars and many other leaders within South Australian society, statistics I expect you will always remember, even as you have the opportunity to add to them.

No doubt you are grateful for the privileges this has afforded you, and I encourage you to consider how you might use your talents, all you have learned and experienced in your lives, both for your own benefit and for the benefit of the broader community, particularly for those less fortunate.

I see many Saints Old Scholars active in volunteering, actively contributing, active in philanthropy.

You are about to embark on the next phase of your lives, and it is an exciting time, if perhaps also a daunting prospect as university, a gap year, employment, or other endeavours loom.

As you look forward, with a youthful perspective, it may seem that the world will always be as it is now in 2023 as you set your plans in motion.

Yet history shows, and strikingly so in the past few years, that the world can change, and change rapidly, not only in the course of a lifetime, but in a matter of years and sometimes almost overnight.

We may be confronted with unforeseen challenges, or today’s seemingly minor issues may become imperatives for action.

With the ability to set goals and see them through, you will be well placed to help guide, shape and lead the future of our community.

Young voices are important voices, and I hope you will always have a sense that you can use that voice, as we tackle vital global and local issues such as climate change, reconciliation, inequality, homelessness – there are many – all while governments in our region of the Indo-Pacific seek to maintain peace and prosperity against a backdrop of growing rivalry between major powers.

South Australia, its people, institutions, and industries are capable of being at the forefront of developing solutions to the challenges we will face.

Our state has many opportunities for you to explore.

We are leading the way in multiple industries: space, renewables, AI, medical research, Defence and more.

I urge you to explore how you might play a role in shaping South Australia’s future, by finding the best possible combination of what you can do for good and what you love to do.

I hope you will think broadly about your futures, about the possibilities of not just the elite workforce, but trades, or going on to the land or in the country.

You will doubtless be receiving advice from many quarters at this time in your lives, but let make three suggestions from my own experience, which you might like to consider.

Firstly, keep an open mind, and be willing to do things that you may have previously ruled out.

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Secondly, in life, there will be success and sometimes setbacks. Setbacks, failures even, are opportunities to learn.

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By completing Year 12 you have already shown yourselves to be resilient, determined and having leadership abilities, ready to be drawn upon to tackle these tests.

Thirdly, I encourage you to say ‘yes’ when offered opportunities or asked to do something.

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Finally, I hope as you navigate your own futures, you will embrace diversity as a strength.

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I thank the Saints community for supporting your Year 12s through the challenges and joys of their Senior Year.

I thank teachers for their commitment to giving students every opportunity to reach their potential.

Your long hours of planning and marking, the encouragement you offer your students, and your unwavering belief in them is very much appreciated.

To the parents, family members and friends of Year 12s, thank you for the practical and emotional support you have offered.

Every large or small gesture, every hug you have given, every favourite study snack you have made or purchased, has helped your child reach this moment tonight.

Year 12, congratulations on reaching the end of your schooling career, and congratulations to those students receiving prizes this evening.

I have every faith you will go out into the world and live the values your Saints education has given you: as confident, compassionate, capable and caring young people who will contribute positively to our state, our nation and, if the past is any guide, our world.

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