Statement on Frances Adamson

  • Statement

I pay tribute to the distinguished career of Frances Adamson, who will end her term as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 25 June 2021.

Ms Adamson is one of Australia’s most accomplished and respected public servants and diplomats, and has served as the first female Secretary of DFAT since 2016.

Her oversight of the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper was instrumental in guiding Australia's foreign policy agenda.

Ms Adamson has led the Department ably during a period of considerable strategic challenge, including leading implementation of the Pacific Step-up; enhanced engagement in Southeast Asia; and a reorientation of the aid program towards regional recovery from COVID-19.

Under her leadership, the Department has undertaken the largest consular operation in DFAT’s history in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. During this critical time, Ms Adamson’s support to her staff, including those posted overseas, has enabled them to provide continuing assistance to Australians abroad.

Within the Department, Ms Adamson has championed ambitious internal reform, including a highly successful Women in Leadership Program, and a strengthened focus on diversity and inclusion. Her intellect and experience are respected across government, business and the broader community.

Ms Adamson has served in senior roles overseas, most notably as Ambassador to China from 2011 to 2015 and earlier as Australia’s Representative to the Australian Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei and Deputy High Commissioner in London. She has been a valued adviser to successive Australian governments, including as International Adviser to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and, earlier, as Chief of Staff to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and then the Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith.

I congratulate Ms Adamson on her appointment, from October, as the next Governor of South Australia and wish her every success in this role.

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