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The Plain English Speaking Award

2016 national winner, Luke Macaronas

Winner of the 2016 Victorian Plain English Speaking Award, Luke Macaronas, St Kevin's College

Congratulations to Luke Macaronas from St Kevin's College, who won the national 2016 Plain English Speaking Award (PESA) with his speech on locker-room culture.

As the national winner, Luke will travel to London in May 2017 to represent Australia at the English Speaking Union (ESU) International Public Speaking Competition, where speakers from up to 50 countries will compete to be named the best young English speaker in the world.

This is the second year running that a Victorian student will represent Australia internationally, with Mathew Hall from Ballarat Grammar winning the national competition in 2015.

Luke's winning speech focused on the ways the hyper-masculinity of the locker-room environment have shaped society's expectations placed on men, and led to antisocial behaviour, under-reporting of mental illness and violence against women.

Luke won $5000 from BBM Youth Support to go towards his attendance at the ESU International Public Speaking Competition in London in May 2017.

Luke secured a place in the national final after competing alongside five other Victorian students at last month’s state final. Almost Victorian 200 students competed in the regional heats held earlier this year.

Madeline Wang from Ballarat Grammar was the runner-up of the Victorian state final. Madeline spoke about the challenges faced by women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and how changes in attitudes towards professions in these fields could reduce barriers to entry.

The other finalists this year were Chloe Gration (Lauriston Girls' School), Arman Riazati (Melbourne High School), Daniel Rabbat (St Joseph's College Geelong) and Eloise McLean (The Hamilton and Alexandra College). These students spoke on a range of topics, including political correctness, feminism and contemporary approaches to multiculturalism.

All six state finalists presented well-researched arguments in their eight-minute prepared speeches. They all demonstrated commendable skill in their handling of the impromptu section of the competition. Students had only four minutes to prepare a three-minute speech on the surprise topic: 'It is important to value differences'.

Ellie Jamonts, who won the national competition in 2011 while a student at Star of the Sea College, was an adjudicator at the event.

Luke’s brother James was also a PESA state winner and represented Victoria at the national PESA competition in 2014.

Madeline Wang, Ballarat Grammar; Daniel Rabbat, St Joseph's College Geelong; Luke Macaronas,
 St Kevin’s College (rear); Chloe Gration, Lauriston Girls’ School; Eloise McLean,
The Hamilton and Alexandra College; Arman Riazati, Melbourne High School (front); .


About the Award

The Plain English Speaking Award (PESA) is a public-speaking competition for students aged 15-18 years. PESA provides an excellent opportunity for students to build self-confidence and extend their skills in oral communication, speech writing and research.

The competition encourages students from government, Catholic and independent schools to speak to their peers from other schools on topics they are passionate about.

In Australia each year state and territory committees organise and conduct competitions at school, regional and state levels. State winners then go to the national final, which is held in the various states and territories on a rotational basis.

In Victoria, PESA is organised and conducted by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. The Australia-Britain Society generously sponsors the Award.

​​Past Participants of PESA

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