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Plain English Speaking Award Finals 2017

Shahani Munaff speaking to an audience

Shahani Munaff

Six extraordinary Victorian students will be going head-to-head on Wednesday 26 July at the state final of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority Plain English Speaking Award (PESA).

Fergus Dale, a country student who boards at Caulfield Grammar School, will use his speech to challenge regional Australian stereotypes and champion our country communities. He will ask all Australians to embrace their regional counterparts who he says “…represent the literal and figurative heart of our Australian continent, and show some of the greatest cases of human compassion and empowerment I have witnessed.”

Emma Darvas, from Bayside P-12 College, will argue that Feminism is not a dirty word, and will counter anti-feminist propaganda to show how to reclaim the movement’s original definition. She will talk about why feminism advocates for equality, and how confronting falsehoods publically is just one of many ways the movement can shed the myths it has become associated with.

Shahani Munaff, from Al-Taqwa College, will advocate for better mental health education and representation in media, examining how programs like 13 Reasons Why and the quest for TV ratings are putting young lives at risk. She will discuss how for most people, “mental illness is not a 13 episode TV series. There is no grand finale. We can’t simply pause, fast forward or rewind whenever we want to. There isn’t always someone to blame,” and why professional help is a necessity and should be promoted.

Anand Bharadwaj ofTrinity Grammar School will explore the critical role education plays in achieving reconciliation in Australia. Niamh Nolan from St Leonard’s College will speak about how society’s consumption of online news reinforces our existing opinions and denies us a full view of current issues. And Nossal High School student Cree Oliveira will reframe the success of the TV series Gogglebox in the context of Australia’s intellectual snobbery.

PESA is one of Australia’s largest public speaking competitions aimed at students aged 15-18 years old. It is a wonderful opportunity for young people who have a talent for the spoken word, storytelling and alternative writing styles to speak about issues that they feel passionate about.

These six students competed alongside more than 180 young people in 23 regional finals to advance to this year’s state final. The winner of the state final will go on to represent Victoria in the National Final in Melbourne on Monday 14 August 2017.

The National PESA champion will represent Australia in 2018 at the English Speaking Union’s International Public Speaking Competition (ISPC) in London, the world’s largest youth public speaking event. Over 50,000 students compete worldwide to win the chance at representing their countries at the ISPC.

This year’s PESA State Final has sold out. Keep your eyes out for tickets for the PESA National Final, which will be held in Melbourne in Monday 14 August 2017.