About the competition
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 states and territories 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.
PESA 2021 state finalists
The VCAA congratulates the six state finalists for the Plain English Speaking Award 2021.
|Zuva Goverwa||Haileybury||Seen and not heard|
|Leo Louis||Melbourne High School||Fixing racism with kebabs|
|Gitaanjali Nair||Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School||The perils of privilege|
|Skyla Ruthven||McKinnon Secondary College||Wasting away|
|Leanne Sebastian||St Monica's College||Consent education|
|Alexander Xing||St Kevin's College||The greatest threat to democracy|
The PESA state final will take place at 10am Friday 23 July at The Wheeler Centre. Book your tickets to attend in person or watch online via
The Wheeler Centre website.
PESA 2021 semifinalists
The VCAA is proud to announce the PESA 2021 semifinalists. Over 150 students competed in the state heats of PESA 2021. The PESA semifinals took on Thursday 24 and Friday 25 June 2021 at Forum Theatre, The University of Melbourne.
What is plain English?
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
2017 ESU International Public Speaking Award winner, Luke Macaronas