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PESA Victorian state final

An and Oscar holding their trophies

An Dang, Brunswick Secondary College
and Oscar Pearce, Albert Park College

A passionate and unique performance by An Dang of Brunswick Secondary College secured the coveted winner’s trophy at the state final of the Plain English Speaking Award (PESA) at the State Library Victoria on Friday 26 July 2019.

An not only presented her speech about the deaf community’s place in Australia in spoken word but combined it with Auslan, the Australian sign language. At one point during her performance, she invited the audience to learn how to say a few phrases in Auslan, including ‘hello’, demonstrating that learning sign language is not too difficult.

‘Speaking about something you are already passionate about is such a joy,’ An said.

‘I’ve only been in Australia for 18 months and I’ve done three courses and have talked to over 50 people in sign language. If I can do it, so can you.’

The runner-up was Oscar Pearce from Albert Park College, whose thought-provoking speech challenged the audience to consider how emotion has crept into politics. He used examples from the recent Australian federal election campaign, Donald Trump’s rise to the US Presidency and post-Brexit Britain.

‘Right from the start everyone had a unique perspective and well-thought speeches,’ Oscar said.

‘It was just awesome to hear from so many people with really cool ideas.’

An and Oscar were joined by Tom McKenzie from Ballarat Grammar, Amy Chilcott from Fintona Girls’ School and De Kai Chue from Suzanne Cory High School. The finalists were selected from over 200 students from Victoria’s government, independent and Catholic schools who participated in PESA this year.

Adjudicator Christopher Holtby OBE, the British Consul General in Melbourne, said that each of the finalists spoke about issues they cared greatly about, making it a difficult decision to choose the winner.

‘This state final was outstanding, an astonishing display of brilliant young people,’ he said.

An received a trophy donated by the Australia–Britain Society (Victoria) and will compete in the national final in Brisbane on Monday 12 August 2019.

The winner of the National PESA competition secures a coveted place at the 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 to represent their countries at the ISPC.