Governor speaks on leadership, culture, values, and service

The Governor of South Australia, the Hon. Frances Adamson AC, recently spoke to students at St Mark’s about the “tremendous opportunities” of College life, and her six pillars as Governor – leadership, civics and schools, international engagement, gender equality, Indigenous issues and reconciliation, and business.

It was, she said, the first time she had spoken as Governor about these six pillars of her Governorship, in which she had a very strong community role alongside her constitutional and ceremonial roles.

Speaking at Formal Hall at St Mark’s, the Governor said that she had learnt a great deal about college life and the opportunities it gave students from her husband, Mr Rod Bunten. As a result, three of their four children had college experiences in Canberra and in Adelaide.

Referring to the celebration of the 40th anniversary of coeducation at St Mark’s, Her Excellency said it was “wonderful to see” the portraits of women as well as men in the College dining hall. They and the profiles of 40 St Mark’s women which are being published as part of the 40th anniversary celebration would help to shape the culture of the College.

The Governor also acknowledged the strong sense of community and volunteering at St Mark’s, and gave “a big cheer for the volunteer”. She encouraged students to recognise the great sense of satisfaction that came from volunteering and helping others.

In discussing her work as Governor in supporting future leaders, both in South Australia and beyond, Ms Adamson spoke of the importance of leaders working to create a culture where everyone has a strong sense of belonging, can thrive, and achieve their potential.

In speaking of leadership and culture, Her Excellency spoke of the importance of adhering to the values one stands for – she spoke as a Christian and an Anglican – including when, as happens from time to time, there are challenges to the culture you are aiming to have. How we respond to challenges and the lessons taken from that experience are important.

The Governor – a former Australian diplomat whose stellar career culminated as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – encouraged students to take opportunities to gain international experience. Especially with so many careers having international dimensions, she encouraged them to consider the prestigious and valuable opportunities available through the New Colombo Plan to understand our region better; the New Colombo Plan supports Australian undergraduates to study and undertake internships in the Indo-Pacific region.

It is, she said, important to understand Australia’s external strategic environment, especially at a time such as this when it is deteriorating. Our students could in future help to determine Australia’s course.

Ms Adamson referred to the strong history of members of St Mark’s participating in public life, including many alumni entering Parliament, and said that she expected that “your generation will be the same”.

“Be true to your values and support each other”, Her Excellency encouraged the students, who greeted her address with enthusiastic applause.

The Head of College, Professor Don Markwell, thanked Her Excellency for her “thoughtful and inspiring” address, before the Governor and Mr Bunten engaged in a most stimulating discussion with a group of students in the College Ballroom.

“Awesome” and “cool” were just two of the superlatives with which students described the Governor’s address and conversation with her.

Photos by Emerson Fielke