Travers Morphett Lecture

17 September 2019

On Tuesday 17 September, successful alumni, Ms Peri Buckley (Class of 1978) delivered the 2019 Travers Morphett Lecture to a captivated audience comprising girls in Years 8–12 and invited guests.

Peri’s address, titled ‘Blowing the Whistle on the Fear of Failure’, was the tenth in a series, named in honour of the founders of the School, Miss Isobel Travers and Miss Audrey Morphett, and inaugurated in 2010 to commemorate the School’s 75th anniversary. The lectures are designed to showcase members of the Fahan Alumni who have gone on to become leaders in their fields. Peri drew on her experiences in sport to talk about the importance of embracing failure and how you can learn from these experiences.

In the years since graduating from Fahan in 1978, Peri forged a successful career in the sport of hockey, both as a player and technical official. On retirement, she had umpired an accumulated 163 international games, a record for an Australian, with three Olympic Games including the gold medal final in Barcelona, three World Cups, two Junior World Cups, a Commonwealth Games and three Champions Trophies. In recent years Peri’s success has moved to the bowls green with her gaining seven Southern Premierships and two State Premierships. She is a qualified bowls umpire, coach and selector.

In speaking about her experience umpiring hockey at an international level, Peri was honest about her setbacks. “Disappointments are not failures, they are just part of the learning process and a means of tuning your mind to being better. I realised that I couldn’t afford to rest on my laurels but needed to continually strive to be even better,” she said.

Peri spoke about the quest for gender equity in sport and how, despite its coming a long way over the years, there is still much to be done. She encouraged our girls to have a go at everything presented to them without being afraid of what others may think.

“I was very fortunate, as you are, to come through Fahan. Fahan has a nurturing but challenging environment that empowers its girls to be independent and confident. Whether it is in sport, business or simply life, focus on achieving success rather than avoiding failure. There is no such thing as failure; it is just a step on your road to success.”

Fahan School Principal, Mrs Penny Curran-Peters, commented that Peri’s address was inspiring to all who listened. She said, “It gave Fahan girls the opportunity to hear about a life lived with enthusiasm, energy and a never-ending quest for personal and professional excellence. It also allowed our girls to envision a path forward for themselves in their chosen area of interest or expertise, safe in the knowledge that some incredible women have gone before them to create these pathways for them.”

“Her authentic manner and willingness to share the weakest moments in her career gave us all permission to acknowledge and embrace the power that is inherent in failure as a motivator for improvement and learning.”

Year 12 Deputy Head Girls, Emma Ward and Sophie Young, said the lecture was an eye-opening experience. “We learnt about overcoming failure and that disappointments we may have throughout our lives are not failures – they are just part of the learning process and a means of adjusting our minds to being better,” said Sophie.

“As we both play sport, it was interesting to hear Peri speak about how successful athletes learn to embrace competition by accepting they can only manage factors that are within their control. Hearing Peri talk about the setbacks she overcame and how she didn’t succumb to the pressure but kept doing what she loved, was really motivating,” said Emma.

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