Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC was born and grew up in South Australia.
She studied economics at the University of Adelaide, while there becoming the first female captain of the boat club in its 103-year history and went on to join the Commonwealth Department of Foreign Affairs in 1985. Her Excellency worked in Hong Kong during the early years of China’s reform and opening, 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, pursuing Australia’s interests as world powers shifted and the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. She also led the department through a period of cultural change, encouraging more women into senior ranks.
She has also been International Adviser to the Prime Minister and Chief of Staff to the Foreign Minister and Defence Minister.
In June 2021 Her Excellency was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for eminent service to public administration through the advancement of Australia’s diplomatic, trade and cultural interests, particularly with the People’s Republic of China and the Indo-Pacific region, to innovative foreign policy development and high level program delivery, and as the 36th Governor appointed in South Australia. She is also a Dame of Grace of the Order of St John and patron of some 100 organisations in her own right and a further 52 jointly with her husband Rod.
Her Excellency is a Fellow of both the Institute of Public Administration of Australia and the Australian Institute of International Affairs. She holds Honorary Doctorates from the University of Adelaide and the Australian National University.