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​​The Plain English Speaking Award (PESA)

Congratulations to our 2018 Semifinalists

The Semifinals will take place on Monday 25 and Tuesday 26 June.

View the full list of PESA 2018 Semifinalists

All are welcome to attend the PESA semifinals and state final.

Please contact vcaa.events@edumail.vic.gov.au for details.


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.

State Final – VCAA Plain English Speaking Award – 26 July 2017

Congratulations to this year’s Victorian State final winner Fergus Dale from Caulfield Grammar. Fergus delivered a thoughtful speech, challenging regional Australian stereotypes and challenging country communities. He used the opportunity to ask all Australians to embrace their regional counterparts and explained why we must all acknowledge and empower regional Australia.

Runner-up was Cree Oliviera from Nossal High School whose speech ‘In defence of happy pigs’ reframed the success of reality TV in the context of Australia’s intellectual snobbery.

Fergus will now go on to compete in the National Final, which celebrate its 40th anniversary this year, and will be held in Melbourne on Monday 14 August 2017 at the NGV International.

Fergus speaking at the PESA event

Fergus Dale of Caulfield Grammar school delivering his winning speech (Photo credit: Nicole Cleary)

Cree posing with her trophy

Cree Oliveira from Nossal High School (Photo credit: Nicole Cleary)

A group of state finalists posing with Fergus holding his trophy

Victorian State Finalists (L to R): Cree Oliveira from Nossal High School, Emma Darvas from Bayside P – 12 College, Niamh Nolan from St Leonard’s College, Fergus Dale from Caulfield Grammar, Shahani Munaff from Al-Taqwa College, Anand Bharadwaj from Trinity Grammar School (Photo credit: Nicole Cleary)


2017 Victorian Finalists' speeches
Read the transcripts of students delivering their winning speeches at the PESA 2017State Final.

​​Past Participants of PESA