Wednesday, 06 September 2023

Zonta Young Leaders Graduation

I am delighted be with you this evening to celebrate the graduation of 20 exceptional young women who have undertaken the Young Leaders Program, organised by the Zonta Club of Adelaide.

I congratulate you all. Please be very proud of your achievements because we are all proud of you.

I was delighted to be invited to address you today, because as Governor I stand ready to assist in any way I can in encouraging young women to see themselves as leaders.

Because we are not only women, or mothers, or daughters - we are scientists, doctors, parliamentarians, athletes. We run businesses; we head organisations.

We are leaders.

I hope that after completing this course you will always dream big and take action to fulfil your own potential.

Year 10 is a pivotal time in your lives, where you start to make decisions about which pathway you are likely to follow – even though that may change over time.

And wherever life takes you, I trust that you will be able to gain insights from people who are willing to share their own experiences and that you will be willing to share your experiences too. That kind of learning can be very valuable.

Through the Young Leaders Program, you have acquired an understanding of leadership styles, how to work in teams, how to build confidence, set goals and manage your time.

Importantly you have discovered how to be an agent of change.

These will all be useful in navigating life’s challenges.

Just recently we have had an example of the Matildas inspiring us with their courage, determination, and skill.

We were also struck by how they extended a hand to their rivals when they were down, how members of our national team encouraged each other and how hard they trained and played.

Recently at Government House we hosted an “Into the Light” illumination on our front façade, as part of Illuminate Adelaide. You may have been among the 60,000 people who came to see it.

The short audio visual featured outstanding women of South Australia’s past and present, including Maggie Beer, chef, author, and gourmet food manufacturer; Sandra Miller, indigenous health advocate and 2023 SA Senior Australian of the Year; Nancy Bates, First Nations singer-songwriter and social activist; Professor Maria Makrides, professor of Human Nutrition; Katherine Bennell-Pegg, the first Australian woman to train as an astronaut; and Isobel Marshall, 2021 Young Australian of the Year.

By displaying these stories so prominently we can change perceptions.

In my own career, while my appointments as the first female head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the first female Ambassador to China, were the topic of headlines, I am pleased that my appointment as the third female Governor of South Australia was received as relatively unremarkable.

It's a sign of some progress that my gender took a somewhat back seat to the actual appointment.

Of course, there is obviously still a way to go.

Further progress will take self-belief, a willingness to learn from others, and recognition that diversity and diversity of opinion can contribute much to the strength of our community.

You have already started on that trajectory.

I must say that I found having a good network of people, some of them friends, to be a good sounding board for ideas, and for support when times are tough.

I thank the Zonta Club, your schools – Adelaide High School and Mitcham Girls High School, and the Leaders Institute for affording you this opportunity and congratulate those involved for their vision in steering this program for its fourth year.

To the graduates, I hope you will always see yourselves not as being at the back of the room, but at table where opinions are expressed and decisions taken.

Well done, and I wish you all the best as leaders now and in future.

Coming events