A Remarkable Woman and a Life-changing Scholarship

15 April 2024
On Thursday 25 May 2023, Walford Anglican School for Girls hosted an Evening with the Governor.

On Thursday 25 May 2023, Walford Anglican School for Girls hosted an Evening with the Governor.

Our special guests were Her Excellency, The Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia, and her husband Mr Rod Bunten. In attendance were Mr Peter Hastings Chair of the Walford Council of Governors, members of the School Council, old scholars, parents, staff, friends of Walford, and Walford students.

In Walford’s 130th birthday year, we enjoyed welcoming Her Excellency back to her school. I am new to South Australia, having arrived here from Western Australia in January, and I have quickly become inspired by and, in fact, in awe of, Her Excellency – the Governor of South Australia, and a Walford old scholar who completed Year 12 at Walford in 1978, graduating as Science Dux and Vice-President of the Student Representative Council. Her Excellency’s mother, the Honourable Jennifer Cashmore, former South Australian Liberal MP, Minister for Tourism, and Minister for Health—was also a Walford old scholar only the third woman in the state to be elected to the House of Assembly.

Her Excellency was repeatedly ranked as one of South Australia’s most influential people before her appointment as the 36th Governor of South Australia. During her Bachelor of Economics, she was the University of Adelaide’s first female captain of the boat club in its 103-year history and went on to join the Commonwealth Department of Foreign Affairs. She worked as a Foreign Diplomat in Hong Kong, headed the Australian Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei, and later served as Australia’s Ambassador to China. Earlier in her career she served twice in the Australian High Commission in London. In 2016, Her Excellency was appointed Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She has also been International Adviser to the Prime Minister and Chief of Staff to the Foreign Minister and Defence Minister. She is clearly a remarkable woman, exemplary leader, and an inspiration.

I particularly admire Her Excellency’s service to international diplomacy and democracy; her commitment to excellence and equity in education for all; and her deep respect for Kaurna language, people and country, and other South Australian Aboriginal lands. In many of her roles she has been the first woman, a literal trail blazer who has created a path along which others might follow, or she has opened a door for the first time so that other women may later more easily walk through it. I think of our, and the kind of courage and truth it must take to forge such a career grounded in deep service, while also living a rich family life.

An Evening with the Governor included an Acknowledgement of Country by Junior School leader Phoebe, a brief video showcasing our school, and a superb violin solo by Annabelle (accompanied by Jamie Cock). Her Excellency addressed the audience, after which I was privileged to have an informal conversation with Her Excellency during which she answered questions from me and from the audience, including from students. The Governor spoke about her experience of the Coronation of His Majesty Charles III, and how Walford crossed her mind as she sat in Westminster Abbey; about the resonance of the Walford School motto, Virtute et Veritate (With Moral Courage and Truth), throughout her life and career; and about the importance of inclusion, social justice, and gender equity. It was interesting to hear about challenges she has faced, inspiration she has drawn, and that there is a distant family connection between Her Excellency’s family of Adamsons, and Lydia Adamson, the founding Principal of Walford. The Vote of Thanks was given by our School Captain Lara and Vice Captain Ava, who escorted Her Excellency and the official party to and from the event.

This event is one that reflects our School – while it was a formal and important occasion, it was also intimate, personal, and shared with our close-knit community. The buzz in the room after the event was testament to how energising it was for the audience to hear from Her Excellency. Our students, inspired, were flocking around the Governor to speak with and thank her during the reception that followed.

I was thrilled during the evening to announce, alongside Her Excellency, the establishment of a transformational scholarship. In this 130th year of our school, we are launching the establishment of a scholarship to which Her Excellency has generously offered her name: the Frances Adamson Scholarship. This scholarship—which has social justice, integrity and the empowerment of young women at its heart—will provide the dream of a Walford education, to courageous and compassionate young women, for whom this would otherwise not be possible. Applications will be invited from students who would not otherwise be able to attend Walford, including from students identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and of refugee status.

The scholarship will be open for applications in 2024 for commencement in 2025, for students entering the School in Years 9, 10 or 11. It is part of a suite of actions the School is taking as part of its Reconciliation Action Plan and the 2023-2025 Strategic Plan, focused on the strategic pillars of:

  • Big Hearts: ensuring the wellbeing and belonging of all students in an inclusive diverse, connected community.
  • Bright Minds: engaging all students through future-ready learning and teaching that inspires and empowers.
  • Bespoke Pathways: enabling personalised excellence by supporting each student to achieve her best, her way.
  • Bold Futures: ensured through opportunities to learn, lead, serve, and be the change we want to see in the world.

We will soon be able to share more details about this transformational scholarship, and how you might contribute. We are hoping to change some lives.

Dr Deborah Netolicky