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The Plain English Speaking Award (PESA)

PESA 2018 state final

Six young people stand together outside, smiling, in the middle of a large public sculpture

(L-R) 2018 PESA state finalists Caitlin Grieve (runner up), Susan Malikoff, Samuel Roach (winner), Jade Vergara, Karmil Nguyen, and Alessandra Negline.

Congratulations to Samuel Roach (St Kevin’s College) who won the Victorian state final of the 2018 Plain English Speaking Award.

In his speech ‘The phase’, Samuel spoke about the awkward years when boys transition into men and the role parents can play during adolescent years. Referring to his cohort of Year 10 male students, Samuel encouraged a new kind of relationship between young men and their parents. ‘Guide us, inform us, and demand of us your expectations. And I promise you, we will rise to them,’ he told the crowd.

The runner up was Caitlin Grieve from Ballarat Grammar who explored farming for the future, exploring the future possibility of ‘entomophagy’, which is insect-eating, and the laboratory production of protein based foods, which Caitlin labelled as ‘fake meat’.

Samuel went on to compete in the PESA national final, which took place in Darwin, NT on Sunday 12 August 2018.

Read more about the 2018 PESA state final

View transcripts of 2018 state finalist speeches

About the Award

PESA is a public-speaking competition for students aged 15-18 years. It 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 (Victoria), the Australia Britain Society Foundation and the English Speaking Union (Victoria) generously sponsor the Award.

What is PESA?

Learn more about the competition and what it means to speak in plain English.

What is PESA transcript (docx - 27.49kb)

History of PESA - 40th Anniversary

This short documentary celebrates 40 years of the national competition. The 40th anniversary national final was held in Melbourne in 2017.

History of PESA - 40th Anniversary transcript (docx - 31.3kb)

National final – Plain English Speaking Award – 14 August 2017

The 2017 national final of the Plain English Speaking Award, hosted by the VCAA, took place on Monday 14 August at the National Gallery of Victoria. Seven Finalists gathered from around Australia to share the winning speeches from their state and territory finals. The competition was extremely close and saw Emily Kim from North Sydney Girls' High School in New South Wales take out top honours, with Aditi Tamhankar from St Peter's Girls' School, South Australia as the runner-up.

Emily Kim, whose winning speech 'The P word' unpacked the stigma around menstruation, will go on to represent Australia at the English Speaking Union's 2018 International Public Speaking Competition (IPSC) in London. The IPSC is one of the world's largest public speaking competitions, attracting more than 50,000 students from up to 50 countries across the globe.

Victoria was represented by state champion Fergus Dale, Caulfield Grammar School, whose speech 'The disregarded identity of regional Australia' challenged the long-held stereotypes of rural Australia by highlighting the innovation that occurs within regional multicultural societies.


​​Past Participants of PESA