>> Back to video
Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award 2022 - NSW state final
OLIVIA WRIGHT: Good morning. I begin today by acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of New South Wales stands. I would also like to pay respects to the Elders past, present and emerging of the Eora nation. I extend that respect to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people here today.
The Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award is one of the premiere events in the public speaking calendar, attracting hundreds of entries from all educational systems and feeding into a national competition.
For the past 2 years, the competition has been conducted completely online. The young people of New South Wales, ensuring their voices were heard through a combination of submitted video speeches and Zoom meeting finals.
This year, local area finals again took place online with speakers Zooming in from all over the state. Regional finals also took place online, and 18 speakers were eventually chosen to compete in the semi-finals that were held at the New South Wales Parliament House in September-- the first in-person Legacy event since 2019.
If you refer to your program, you'll see the names of the winners in this competition, since it began in 1995, in association with the 50th anniversary of ending of the Second World War. It's worth noting that on 7 occasions, New South Wales' contestants have won the state final-- the national final. With this year, it will take place in Launceston in November.
Now before we get to the speakers, I need to begin by introducing you to the adjudication panel for today's final. Our 3 adjudicators for this final are Andrew Lasaitis, Sarah Jackson and Elinor Stephenson.
Andrew Lasaitis is the Arts Program and Partnerships Coordinator at the Arts Unit. As an English, drama and maths teacher at both St. John's Park High School and Riverside Girls High School, he was a regional debating coordinator for many years in southwest and northern Sydney and mentored a number of successful public speakers, including champions in this competition and in the Plain English Speaking Award.
Prior to his current role at the Arts Unit, he was the previous speaking competitions officer, as well as a learning quality advisor with the New South Wales Department of Education.
Sarah Jackson is an experienced adjudicator and public speaking coach in public and private schools. Her Year 11 debating team were runners up at the Premier's Debating Challenge state final in 2012.
In the years since, she's adjudicated many state finals about debating and public speaking competitions. Sarah has completed a Bachelor of Health Sciences and Masters of Global Health and is now in her penultimate year in the University of Sydney studying medicine.
Finally, Elinor Stephenson reached the 2017 state final of the Plain English Speaking Award and was part of the state champion team in the Premier's Debating Challenge of Years 11 and 12 that same year.
She also represented New South Wales in debating, winning the National School's Debating Championships in Year 12. In university, she was ranked in the top 10 novice and overall speakers in both the Australian Intervarsity Debating Championships and the Australasian Women's Debating Championships, reaching the semi-finals in both tournaments.
We now come to the prepared speech section of a Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award state final. In this section, each contestant may speak for 5 minutes on a topic of their choosing. There will be a warning bell at 4 minutes, 2 bells at 5 minutes, with a continuous bell should the speech exceed 6 minutes.
First up is our first speaker, Violet FitzSimons, a student from Oxley College. The title of her speech is entitled The Bathroom Binary. Please give a warm welcome to Violet FitzSimons.
VIOLET FITZSIMONS: Bathrooms. We've got to love them. There are just so many fun choices. Hand towel or hand dryer. Hot or cold water. Medium flush or large flush. But out of all the choices made in the bathroom, by far the most daunting is that of the door. Which one? Girl or boy? Which stick figure indicates to you which store you're supposed to go through?
Now, aside from a few awkward instances of why not paying attention and pushing open the wrong door, I haven't had much trouble with bathrooms. Unless, of course, you count my ongoing feud with automatic hand dryers. But that is a speech for another day.
This indifference towards bathrooms is something that I am privileged to practise. The fact that I don't fear that split second decision is a privilege. The fact of the matter is, in 2022, the confinement of 2 doors is buckling under the pressure of societal change.
Suddenly, the 4 straight and simple lines that contain a swinging door and not a passageway to amenities, but a box to place people into. It's nice and neat. Half through one door, half through the other. Easily definable as variable A or variable B. But of course, things aren't that simple.
With the rise of the LGBTQIA+ community and the overall increase of information on the spectrum of gender and sexuality, we are presented with a completely new set of variables. A completely new chapter on the topic of identity that was previously unknown.
Now, you can tell a lot about a person by their Instagram bio, but how do you judge a society's fear of the unknown? The bathrooms. Put simply, our bathrooms are perhaps the easiest gateway into understanding our society's hesitancy to comprehend gender fluidity.
Here's the thing about bathrooms. Fluid is always contained, whether it be the water that stays obediently in the bowl, in the sink, or the liquid soap that remains contained in its dispenser. we are used to the defined and the categorised. It's only logical that we place the next fluid thing into a container also, except gender isn't so compliant.
According to the 2016 Australian census, there are currently 10,000 gender fluid people living in Australia. That's 10,000 people posing at the bathroom door, fretting over defining themselves when their identity itself is undefinable.
That's 10,000 people, who we define as option A or option B purely because it is comfortable, purely because it is familiar. Those 4 walls of the bathroom have become a sacred space for people, a constant in a world of flux.
At the suggestion that a new door is required or that it should be no door at all, there is outrage. Arguments fly left and right, everything from labelling. Such a change is unnecessary to entertaining lunacy. Even outside the bathroom stalls, the habit of containing and labelling identities seems to be a visceral response.
As a society, we are essentially a toddler, who has gotten ahold of mum's label maker. We label this debate as conservative versus progressive, us versus them, the old versus the new. We trivialise people's dedication to ideas that were based upon love, forgiveness, and charity.
However misguided they may seem now, these ideas have existed and have had a huge role in civilising society for thousands of years. But we become so focused on criticising the mere existence of these beliefs and those who hold them that we overlook what's truly dangerous, the impact that these beliefs have.
In 2019, a sign was placed on a door in Parliament House. It read, please use the bathroom that best fits your gender identity. Simple as that. And yet within minutes of it being attached to the door, Scott Morrison had publicly stated that he expected for it to be taken down. Such things are ridiculous. This is where it gets dangerous.
It's one thing to say that someone shouldn't enter a bathroom, but it is entirely different to discredit their very identity. It's obvious, the concept of fluidity makes Mr. Morrison uncomfortable. That's OK. He has every right for his beliefs.
What he has no right to do is to undermine the importance of making others feel comfortable. The irony is, the discomfort he voiced at the presence of the sign is identical to that of the gender fluid community, who don't see signs like that every single day.
But here's the thing. Once we, as a society, let go of our desire for definition, it becomes apparent that fluidity is freeing, and quite frankly, already in motion. Our fashion is fluid. Models of all genders wearing clothes of all descriptions on the top runways of the world. Even something as simple as using they/them pronouns when addressing someone you don't know the identity of or whose identity exists outside of the binary.
Embracing a lack of binary is not something distant from us. It's something that we attempt to distance ourselves from. But this binary we placed ourselves in is artificial. It's all of our own making. And whilst it's instinct for some, it should not be expectation for others.
I know it's all too tempting to place this debate into the neat confines of conservative versus progressive. But you'll notice that brings us right back to where we started-- option A or option B. And at this point, if we haven't established that the world is far more complex than a binary, I am definitely doing something wrong.
So instead, let's combat the binary with something fluid, with something complicated and hard and just as complex as the issue itself-- empathy. You see, out of all the choices made in the bathroom, the most crucial is whether you choose to accept a person or your preconceived notions of them.
Because gender and political views form our identities, and it's only with empathy that we can unshackle ourselves from our discomforts and meet other human beings with respect and dignity. Thank you.
OLIVIA WRIGHT: Second contestant today is Anhaar Kareem, who is a student studying at Al Noori Muslim School. Her speech is entitled, It Couldn't Be Me. Please welcome Anhaar Kareem to the stage.
ANHAAR KAREEM: I've never been the bravest person. I look away when I see blood, I'm afraid of the dark, and I'm definitely not suited to horror films. So when I watch a true crime documentary for the very first time, as would be expected, I was absolutely terrified. But I managed to reassure myself by convincing myself that I would make better decisions than the victim, and that ultimately, this tragedy could never happen to me.
And while this helped me sleep that night, I've come to realise my detachment from the victim is not an entirely good thing. Women are most likely to be abused by someone they know. And despite this, I like to think I'd be able to see the red flags of abuse or exit any kind of jeopardising relationship.
So when I hear cases of women being murdered, I once again reassure myself that it couldn't be me. While I came to feel guilty about this optimistic bias, I was surprised to find that it's not just me who feels this way. While we might not admit it, almost everyone believes they're immune to experiencing intimate violence.
According to Professor Sherry Hamby of the University of the South, people blame victims so that they can continue to feel safe themselves. And even the most feminist women can do this. Recounting her experience in an article a few years ago, feminist and domestic violence survivor, Sarah Ruhl, stated that she was too smart, too vigilant, too feminist to be with anyone but a kind and sensitive man.
But why exactly do we think this way? While our desire to feel safe and comfortable is undoubtedly a contributor, factors such as the media also play a pivotal role in normalising this victim blaming.
According to a recent Australian study on the role of the media in portraying violence against women and their children, the news has a tendency to insinuate the victim's blame through the structure language or chronology of events.
I saw this play out when earlier this year, the tragedy of Arnima Hayat, who was murdered only suburbs away from me by her partner, made the news. She was only 19 years old and a talented, talented woman, studying medicine and aspiring to be a surgeon.
It seemed that everyone was not only deeply saddened but shocked at this incident. Article headlines were almost all inclusive of Arnima's University degree or her medical background. Some read, farewell to aspiring surgeon found in bath and aspiring surgeon at centre of acid tragedy.
The news focused on her education and intelligence because we find those qualities rare, stereotyping victims of abuse as submissive, uneducated, and ultimately unsuccessful, excluding ourselves from the possibility of experiencing abuse.
The impact of this mentality is dire. Research indicates, suggesting victims are at fault can worsen their mental health, fail to bring the perpetrator accountable and create invalidation and silence, ultimately jeopardising women in abusive relationships.
The truth is that victim blaming casualises the tragic experiences of millions of women. One woman dies every week in Australia as a result of domestic violence. We need to recognise domestic violence as a genuine issue that will not be remedied by increased consciousness of victims or more preventative measures on a woman's part.
Really, we are in no place to place women in abusive relationships due to our lack of understanding when it comes to the intricacies of abuse. We cannot undermine the role of financial dependency, psychological trauma, and social criticism on the decisions of victims.
While it is undoubtedly difficult for us to come to terms with this unjust reality, the coping mechanism we currently rely on clearly isn't working. So rather than trying to assure ourselves that we can somehow avoid domestic violence, we can instead channel our fear into advocacy. We need to come together to take action that will catalyse change.
But what exactly does that action look like? Much needs to be done, including the criminalisation of all forms of abuse, more representation of victim survivors, and better preventative campaigns for perpetrators. However, as we all know, government action is slow. So what guaranteed impact can we make now?
Intimate violence is the leading cause of preventable death, disability, and illness in women aged 15 to 45. We need to acknowledge that it can happen to anyone. Not a single one of us is immune. We also need to shift this entrenched criticism of the victim to the perpetrator for the atrocities that they have committed. Additionally, we need to [inaudible] our attitude. Rather than thinking, it couldn't be me, we should instead consider, why couldn't it be me?
Finally, we need to change our discourse. In the aftermath of the murder of Arnima Hayat, I saw friends and family around me share that sympathy and disgust but also, sadly heard people's comments that she should have been smarter than that or should have listened to her parents. Whether intentional or not, we need to aggressively interrogate these biases we have to ensure we are not victim blaming in any way.
So while this discrete form of victim blaming may have helped me recover from watching true crime documentaries, which I'm clearly not brave enough to watch, I've learned that domestic violence can happen to anyone. And yes, it's confronting to reckon with, but that means that it could happen to me. Thank you.
OLIVIA WRIGHT: Our third finalist is Saanvi Kashyap from Baulkham Hills High School. And her speech is entitled, The Scale That Sparked the Conversation. Please now welcome Saanvi Kashyap.
SAANVI KASHYAP: When I turned on the news on Australia Day, I'd been excited to see a celebratory showcase of Australian culture. Instead, there was only one headline that was adorned by nearly all of the major news outlets. I remember thinking to myself, what could possibly be more important than a national holiday?
And there was Grace Tame scowls at Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Grace Tame frosty exchange with ScoMo captured on camera. Clearly, the conversation that this exchange of expressions had caused was not going away any time soon. For days and for weeks, this was the top headline. And that's when I remembered a key detail.
A scowl does not matter, unless it belongs to a woman. Within minutes, the backlash hit. People all across the country cried out, either in support of Tame, or more commonly, against her. But what surprised me the most were the voices that rang the loudest and furthest in this discussion. It wasn't the journalists or media. Rather, it was the conservative members of our parliament, who spoke out very loudly against what was, in my opinion, a Tame scowl.
One of many examples is the Facebook post written by Queensland Liberal Senator, James McGrath, which criticises Tame to be childish, an infantilising word for a Courageous Australian of the Year-- and that's when it hit me. The problem, or at least part of it, fellow audience is our parliament.
I know what you're thinking. What is she talking about? Well, the parliament's politicians, primarily the conservative men in power or perhaps Tame's harshest critics, it felt like most had something to say-- mostly along the lines of, if your disdain is so great, then just don't go.
In the words of youth advocate, Yasmin Poole-- this is the same argument from an outdated misogynist playbook-- if women disdain the political boys club so much, why should they run for politics? If women disdain the table that creates our disadvantages, why should we try to sit at the same table and challenge it?
Their criticisms carry a thinly veiled message. Women who refuse to obey do not belong in spaces, where decisions are made. This argument has benefited men and people in power for generations upon generations.
Women are expected to nod, smile, be silent, and complicit, all for the comfort of others. No one should be expected to smile at the prime minister, especially not Tame. But, you see, the critics who jumped at the chance to comment negatively on Tame reveal a deeper, more sinister culture of misogyny ingrained in both our country and its parliament.
I mean, if these individuals have the audacity to publicly smear a woman for simply refusing to smile, imagine what it is like for women intending to speak her mind in the party room. But, you see, there is no need to imagine. The stories told by women from parliament paint a horrific picture.
Former Liberal MP Julia Banks' experience of sexual harassment and bullying reveals the ongoing culture of silencing women who dare to say no. Brittany Higgins alleged rape in Parliament House exposed politician after politician, who could have done something but simply turned away.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who, regardless of her gender, was the leader of our country was openly belittled and bullied by her male colleagues. The list goes on, but the narrative stays the same. Our parliament refuses to accept women, who dare to challenge the ideals and actively works against those who fight the status quo.
Studies by the Inter-Parliamentary Union showed that politics continues to become less appealing to Australian women. And Australia, despite being relatively modern, ranks nowhere near the top when it comes to gender equality in our parliament.
This is the problem. At a moving time in the world's mindset, one where the world strives towards becoming more equal, Australia's move towards making our parliament align with the society that we want to become is simply too slow. Its progress threatened by the horrific conditions carved out for female politicians.
The recent election proved to us that women want their voices heard and opinions considered. And while many progressive members were brought into parliament, we still need more young women and people to give a voice to our experiences in a way that other generations could not.
Now, I'm not saying that fixing our parliament will immediately fix our country's misogyny issue. It will, however, begin to change the narrative which is certainly a start. You see, the politics room is the highest office in all of Australia. And the conversations held in this room impact the wellbeing of all Australian women.
Think of the change that could occur if this room had more diverse progressive voices and conversations that implemented laws and ideals, making Australia a safer, better place for women. With a little work, our parliament could truly be a representation of Australia at its best. But unless this very important room-- perhaps the most important room in our country-- becomes open to changing, we will remain stuck in the cycle of gender inequality.
To fix this, we must support both the idea and reality of women running for parliament by advancing programs that fund, mentor, and support them like EMILY's List which has helped over 270 women get elected into state and federal parliaments.
At the same time, we must also promote and vote for the women and people who will make Australia a better place for women, and especially for those of us like me who can't vote or donate just yet. We must start these important conversations-- conversations about equality and misogyny, conversations about a parliament that truly mirrors the Australia that we want to be on a personal level, on a local level-- perhaps by calling out poor behaviour in the local community to our local members-- and even national levels.
In the past 6 minutes, we've come a long way from a Tame scowl to the misogyny that is inevitably ingrained in our culture. But we won't stand for it. And if Tame scowl has done anything, it has simply reminded us of this-- the young women of this generation no longer care about formalities because smiling doesn't start national conversations. Thank you.
OLIVIA WRIGHT: Our fourth speaker this morning will be Jio Yim, a student attending Presbyterian Ladies' College Sydney. The subject of Jio's speech is Not the Australian Way. Please welcome up, Jio Yim.
JIO YIM: Frances stands at the corner of Melbourne Avenue and State Circle, holding a benign little climate protest sign reading, 'Balance the carbon budget.' But the wise words of our former Prime Minister Scott Morrison brings, ironically, 'I'll tell you what, I'm listening to her.'
Later that year, despite our ex-PM claiming that polite protest is the best avenue, Australia pulled a no-show at a UN Climate Summit and later withdrew from an international fund to tackle climate change.
It's evident that Australia's current method of protesting or the congenial way politicians want us to protest is ineffective and doesn't catch the eyes of people who can actually make an impact. We need to change our approach.
We've always seen protests on the news, most recently in Sri Lanka and on abortion rights. But despite seeming to hear so much about the protests that are happening, nothing seems to change. And the government just doesn't seem to be listening, not even to Frances.
In fact, in Australia, the land of the free, protests have ironically resulted in many draconian anti-protest laws and unjust fines. An example being the anti-Adani protesters being fined $80,000. Politicians have the privilege of, when their policies don't go right, they can flee. For Scott Morrison, when things went South, he went North-- to Hawaii.
But we can't escape from the flaws in our political system like they can, especially in marginalised populations like Indigenous Australians living under the poverty line. We all have the right to protest in Australia. So how can we do so in a way that's more than a sign on a street corner to catch the attention of politicians who just don't listen?
If we want change to happen, we need to do more than a bit of left wing graffiti. Scott Morrison has recently condemned Extinction Rebellion protests by calling it, 'Not the Australian Way.' But if we listen to what politicians want, which is evidently the Australian way of things, we'll never achieve what society actually needs. The way we need to look is a form of disruptive protest.
Some context-- every single successful protest in Australia has involved some level of disruption. The Freedom Riders, 1965-- a 15-day bus journey through regional New South Wales to uncover the living conditions of Indigenous Australians.
Sydney's first Mardi Gras, 1978-- 53 arrests and multiple bashings in police cells. The women's rights to vote-- in the case of the suffragettes, what they did was illegal at the time, but it still had to be done. Sadly, we need confrontation in order to make a difference.
A while ago, I was walking down Pitt Street Mall and was caught in the midst of a pro-Palestine protest. Now, it made my Mum and I late for my dentist appointment, but that's beside the point. It also made me Google what the protest was about afterward. It raised awareness about the Middle East in conflict, even if it was just for me. However, there are dangers to being too disruptive.
As seen in America, these can lead to unorganised and inconsistent bursts of protest that can turn violent. Need I spell out Capitol riot? Social media hashtags, letters to the editor, opinion articles are all useless standalone when we want to bring about actual change. It's clear that disruptive protests have a high level of functionality.
Great examples of these are public sector protests currently happening by train drivers and public school teachers. These protests cause enough disruption so to be heard, but not so much as to be violent. So when we miss the train or have a day off of school, the most important part is that our lawmakers are also being affected because their staff is late to work, or their kids have to stay at home for the day.
We don't have to stand by and wait for our politicians to do a job that they'll frankly never do. If there's a cause worth protesting about to you, which, especially today, you could find an A to Z list of, be a part of planning something bigger, or join a local youth parliament, or even just engage in an active school club. Whatever you do, don't just be an internet slacktivist. Take decisive actions.
Now, back to Frances and her climate sign. You'll get a pat on the back from our House of Reps, but that's about as far as we'll go. But once we start ditching the Australian way of protesting and look toward measures that actually work, things will change. Once you start to join in, things will change. Protest is not meant to be civil or respectable. It's meant to get your attention.
OLIVIA WRIGHT: Rowan Myers is this morning's fifth speaker. She's a student at Crestwood High School and her speech is called Romanticising Crime. Please welcome Rowan Myers.
ROWAN MYERS: The casual everyday routine. I'm walking home from school, AirPods in, Spotify opened, and BuzzFeed Unsolved playing-- my favourite true crime podcast. And as I'm walking, I listen to these horrific stories of murder, abuse, rape, and violence against women.
I get home, end the podcast, and not once do I stop and think about the fact that I am listening to the stories of young women just like me, women who have faced truly horrible situations for some light entertainment. Thousands of young women are avid consumers of true crime content. In fact, 73% of people who consume content from the genre are women.
Recently, young women have been obsessing over true crime, watching the latest dramatised Netflix doco series and listening to podcasts whenever they get the chance. And some have even gone as far as to romanticise it, to the point where the Jeffrey Dahmer hashtag on TikTok has received over 1.3 billion views since the latest adaptation of his story has been released.
Once the fog of our entertainment has subsided, we are left questioning the ethical standpoint of our actions. This demand of true crime content impacts us on a personal level. It's not some far-off idea that dances in the distance that we can acknowledge but then forget about.
This disillusionment changes how we perceive the world. And it stops us from calling out violence against women because we see it as normal, and sadly, sometimes satirical. Thanks to videos on TikTok and Instagram.
One of the most probable reasons as to why women are so fascinated by true crime is the fact that it is predominantly about women and their stories. Through this train of thought, they watch and listen to this highly disturbing content with the intent to learn about what to look out for in unsafe situations and how to conduct oneself in said situations.
Women account for 70% of serial killer victims, which, on its own, is an appalling statistic, as well as coincidentally being almost identical to the percentage of true crime viewers that are female, 73%.
The fact that women are targeted so much more than men by serial killers is a result of society's ideas that women are weak and submissive. And it's these ideas which portrays them as an easy target and makes them the most common victim.
But women do want to arm themselves. It's not the only reason they consume true crime content. There is the fact that women are taught about serial killers from a very early age. One of my first memories is my mother sitting me down and telling me, 'Never walk alone at night. You'll be attacked, you'll be kidnapped, you'll be raped, you'll be murdered. Don't ever do it.' We are so readily exposed to this as kids that it is natural for us to want to know more.
As a society, we are aware that true crime is real crime, that it has happened before and will continue to happen. In fact, that is the reason it is sought out. Therefore, it is unsurprising that the media romanticises the macabre charisma of certain serial killers, giving them the notoriety that these fundamentally sick individuals crave.
We all think that we are unaffected by these type of events, but that causes us to separate it from ourselves. We believe that we live in this untouchable bubble that the problems of the world don't actually affect us. But the horrific reality is, we are a statistic. And when we hear about these terrible situations, we think of it as daily life and eagerly await the podcast.
Why is it that society is considering true crime as simply entertainment? We should switch back to crime fiction. Are we enjoying the thrill, the goal, or the plot twist? So why not enjoy the literary masterpieces of Agatha Christie or Stephen King? That is 1,000 times more ethical than consuming the dramatised true crime content that our society does.
If I say the names, Ivan Milat, Ted Bundy, or Jeffrey Dahmer, you would immediately know who I'm talking about. And even if I said Caroline Clarke or Melissa Smith, the names would fly over your head. These 2 young women, as well as thousands of others, are the victims of true crime cases. And we don't know their names.
Instead of focusing on the dreadful circumstances these women have gone through and recognising and remembering them, we focus on their abusers, their murderers, and unwittingly glorify them. The names follow them around like a foul award.
The truth is, society doesn't care about the victims. We now live in this morally grey area, where humanity and empathy take a backseat. A mind-numbing goal is to simply be entertained. Why is it that we are allowed to share the stories of young traumatised women without the consent of them or their next of kin?
There needs to be an ethical limit for using their stories as entertainment. So many podcasts, doco series, and dramatised shows occur without even considering the thoughts, opinions, and feelings of those involved.
True crime content needs to change. It needs to seek out consent to make these productions. Family members of the victims must be spoken to and must be asked if they are OK with their loved one's tragic story being shared for millions to see. Regardless, we need to stop the dramatisation of it.
Netflix is infamous for actively exaggerating their supposed real-life accurate doco series. They cost conventionally attractive well-known actors to play these parts. But that only adds to the desensitisation because, who needs to care about the victims of Ted Bundy when he's Hollywood heartthrob, Zac Efron?
And why bother asking the next of kin their thoughts? Belva Kent, the mother of Debra Kent, one of Ted Bundy's victims, has said, 'Why keep rubbing it in our faces? It's hurtful to me. It's aggravating.' She wasn't asked for her consent to make the Ted Bundy film.
All she was left with was the kneecap of her dead daughter, and yet another reminder of the media, trying to desensitise audiences to the raw reality of murder. So the next time you or I go to press that play button on the Spotify true crime podcasts, we need to research, is this ethical?
OLIVIA WRIGHT: The sixth contestant this morning is Jenny Xu, who is representing Pymble Ladies' College. Her speech is entitled, Put Down the Book. Please welcome Jenny Xu to the stage.
JENNY XU: I don't know about you, but at Christmas, I get the strangest gifts. Well-meaning family members often recycle old presents. Aunts and uncles who barely know you feel obliged to get something. It leads to a bit of chaos for better and for worse.
This year, my strangest gift was Lilly Singh's self-help book, 'How to Be a Bawse,' a unique book for people who want to conquer life by mastering their minds and hustling harder. On the one hand, it was inspiring to see a South Asian queer woman making her mark in so many difficult industries. And I looked forward to hearing about her unique advice and perspective.
As I turned the pages, I noticed that lots of her advice, despite her background, was almost identical to the standard self-help mantras-- do what you love, work smarter, not harder, and just be nice to people. What did it mean that this book, written by a successful woman of colour, was basically indistinguishable from the vanilla versions on the shelves around it?
In the last few decades, disadvantaged groups have slowly been granted access to the success of a world that they've historically been excluded from. And there's obviously still a long way to go. But there was something about the image of Lilly Singh's book that made me wonder if it's really possible for all of us to convert ourselves into this capitalist idea of self-made success, as though personal effort alone was responsible for an individual's lack of success.
So how exactly does a self-help book relate to offload perception of success, and what are the impacts of this seemingly harmless culture? In Australia, a land of purported equality, structural problems like economic inequality and racism deeply impact a person's ability to make career advancements or gain positions of authority. Whilst we like to idealise the minorities that made it to the top, there's a lack of acknowledgment for those who didn't or couldn't make it to the top alongside them.
Around 20 million self-help books are sold each year. And though these books are clearly marketed to people who didn't grow up with every privilege, they pretend that they're read by every Fortune 500 CEO. Think about the classic example of Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal. In essence, these books are marketed to the most vulnerable as a false mechanism to improve their lot, all the while filling the pockets of the authors.
If these books do contain useful advice, it's on things like how to give a firm handshake or maintain eye contact. It's basically a cheat sheet for acting like a successful person. In the sense, it's like one of those old Victorian etiquette books.
Etiquette books were notorious for attempting to convince the middle class that by laughing a little quieter or standing up in a certain way, they would embody the image of the higher class. And let's be honest. It is image that these books focus on.
Whilst different self-help niches can be about new age yoga or making friends and influencing people, most frequently, it's about financial success in the public eye. Career advancement, public appearance, and wealth are the eventual goals of most of these books.
Written in the second person, these books place the burden onto individuals to solve problems that might be totally out of their control. Problems like prejudice or the lack of access to education. Problems that can't be solved by a strong handshake.
Of course, self-help culture isn't the root of the problem. It's a reflection of the capitalist's drive to succeed, and our flawed belief that through hard work alone, success is equally attainable for everyone. Because in the real world, a strong handshake isn't responsible for Donald Trump or Kylie Jenner's success. Privileges-- and that's the first step to success that these books and the culture they represent conveniently forget to mention.
To some extent, most people realise that these books are silly. But the popularity reveals something about the values of our society. They show us that we like to sweep structural problems under the rug in order to hide our inaction, and that we're willing to blame others for their difficulties.
So although self-help books aren't responsible for society's failures, the impact of self-help culture often prevents us from considering how society might improve at a macro level. Society won't be changed by spending millions of dollars on books that tell us that if only everyone had leant in further or hustle just a tiny bit harder, we'd all be billionaires. But it could be changed by a cultural shift from, for what many, are just lies.
Billionaire celebrities have to stop telling people, who still struggle to put food on the table, that they need to work smarter and not harder. Regardless of what self-help books say, the vast majority of the world population can only help themselves so much under a system of capitalism. And it's recognising this that will let us bridge the gap and collectively advocate for policy that actually solves long-term structural poverty.
Now, I'm sure that many young readers of Lilly Singh's book will become bosses. Not just because they were nice to people or because they magically eliminated stress, but because in addition to being hardworking and driven, they were just lucky. Thank you.
OLIVIA WRIGHT: This morning's seventh speaker is Shirine Nehme from Marian Catholic College. The subject of her speech is Labour of Love. Please welcome Shirine Nehme.
SHIRINE NEHME: 'The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.' Words by William Ross Wallace. The divine role and privilege of being a mother is a beautiful thing. Throughout history, motherhood has been seen as such-- through song and biblical verse, through the brushstrokes of Monet, and through the hugs and kisses from her very own children.
Motherhood is a celebrated role. And yet each year, women are becoming less and less likely to become mothers. So why are less women wanting to fulfil the role of motherhood? Why are more women seeing this title as a prerogative and distressing?
While most people attribute decreasing rates of motherhood to women's desire to advance in their careers without as much judgement from society, I want to turn the conversation to a much more dire and rampant issue-- the treatment of women in hospitals and the birth trauma they face.
But first, I want to tell you a story. My own mother, a nurse, gave birth in my small town hospital. After waiting 2 hours to be attended to, she was reprimanded by one of the midwives. And despite asking for an epidural, my mother wasn't even seen by another nurse, until she was just about to deliver. This treatment felt isolating and made this first time experience even more daunting.
Her experience delivering with me wasn't much better. And without the support of her family, both labours could have been a much more traumatising event. She accounts both treatments to the lack of staff, stress, and exhaustion already put on the nurses, as well as our location and the inaccessibility of a private hospital. Unfortunately, many women relate and recount a story similar to this. This issue is so prevalent that one in 3 women will experience birth trauma.
Throughout history, pregnancy has been a difficult event. During the 20th century, a drug called the twilight sleep was the latest state-of-the-art medication-- one that brought women to insanity and psychosis through lowering their inhibitions. Women were a stranger in Labour, and their babies were born drugged. The worst part was, women would come back and use the twilight sleep again.
Husbands were not allowed in the maternity ward, and wives would have absolutely no memory of any of the Labour. This extremely unethical procedure was based on the manipulation and miseducation of mothers. With the advance of modern medicine, it's easy to believe that these injustices are an occurrence of the past.
However, over a century later, the medical field is still not providing us with adequate treatment. In 2020, the Guardian News reported 2 mothers' birth stories. One mother, Ellie, said she had been in Labour for 24 hours and was told to go back home because they did not have enough beds.
Rural hospitals simply lack the basic resources needed for standard care. Even after mothers are accepted into the maternity ward, many are denied sufficient treatment, either because of financial issues or pure negligence.
The second mother interviewed was Kate who described her 26-hour Labour as going through war. She accounts her 3 years of postnatal depression to her birth trauma. Unfortunately, many other women's experiences are invalidated, and they aren't even diagnosed.
There are many structural issues that contribute to these experiences. In particular, the absence of women in the medical field. Historically, women have made up a minority of doctors. This may be an explanation for the lack of understanding and trust in women's self-diagnosis and reactions to treatment.
So what is our solution? It is undeniable that these issues need to be resolved through unity and education. If the general population is made aware of these topics and the overall effect they have, we may be able to integrate and actually make a change.
Effectively educating everyone will give more women the opportunity to become doctors and provide a more empathetic perspective, which then reduces the risk of misdiagnosis and miseducation in women's health care. This also allows those who are already practising to be regularly retrained and taught new and innovative treatments.
Furthermore, we must see a better allocation of funds for both the scientific research on the impact of motherhood and infrastructure and resources put into maternity wards. By investing in mothers, we can grant them a platform to share their stories and challenge the stigma around pregnancy and maternal boundaries, while ensuring that they are comfortable and have access to resources throughout their journey of motherhood.
Motherhood does not need to be an experience of pain and suffering. With basic education and better funding, mothers can be better supported to experience motherhood as the truly beautiful thing that it is. It is with these simple steps we can all lend a hand to help rock the cradle.
OLIVIA WRIGHT: Our final speaker for this morning is Jordan Steel. Jordan is student from Marrickville High School, and her speech is called What's in a Name? Please welcome our speaker, Jordan Steel.
JORDAN STEEL: A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting on the couch filling out official New South Wales' name change forms. And I remember that there was a little box that had a maximum of 130 characters. And it said, state reason for name change.
I sat there staring at it for five minutes thinking, how am I supposed to explain something like that in 130 characters?
You know, when I was five, I went to my Mum and said to her, I want to change my name. She said, what do you want to change it to? And I said, Simba. Yes, like 'The Lion King.' I was obsessed with no last name like Madonna.
In all seriousness, I got around to properly changing my name about a year ago. And I made a whole list of possible options and spent hours on baby name sites before I found one where I was just like, yes, that's me.
I talked to my family, my friends, and the school. And soon enough, everyone was calling me by the name that I had chosen for myself-- my name. It took a little bit of adjustment, sure, but for me, it was just an incredibly exciting process because for once in my life, I was being called something that I didn't just actively hate, that didn't feel completely wrong, that felt like me.
Dead names, as they are often referred to by the trans community, are somewhat of a complicated subject. The term 'dead name' is used to refer to a name that you do not use anymore, and that no longer aligns with your identity in any way.
I've been asked by a couple of people, why did you change your name? And I've always had trouble coming up with a response to that question because it's just such a hard thing to articulate. Most of the time, I've just said it's because the other one was wrong. It wasn't me.
I've said a couple of times that the old one was too feminine, which was a big part of it. But on a base level, I think it was about more than that as well. It was about identity, and whether my name actually felt like me.
Now, I can't tell you my dead name because then I'd have to kill you. But I will say that it was probably one of the most traditionally feminine names that you could think of. No offence to all of the Tiffanys or the Kylies out there. But I am so far from traditionally feminine. So it just never quite fit.
I'm lucky because I've experienced very little pushback from people about changing my name. No one's really outright refused to call me the correct name. And most people have just seemingly gotten with it. And really, that's the way it should be. But it isn't that way for everyone.
As a recent example, the well-known actor, Elliot Page, came out as transgender in December 2020, changing her name and pronouns. This is a big step for someone in the public eye to take. But not everyone was willing to accept his personal decision.
Many people, trolls, actually, have been repeatedly and deliberately dead naming and misgendering him. This is a very public example. But this sort of thing happens all the time to trans people everywhere who experience discrimination on the basis of their identity. This sort of behaviour aims to achieve nothing other than hurt.
People change their names for reasons unrelated to gender identity all the time. People get married and change their last names, or they decide that their given name isn't very good, and they want to be referred to as something else.
The names that people choose for themselves should be accepted and used accordingly as a matter of simple and based respect. Continuing to use someone's dead name after they've specifically asked you to do otherwise can make that person feel unsupported, unacknowledged, and unseen.
Why would anyone, after being explicitly asked not to, continue to use a name that makes someone uncomfortable and upset? It has been shown that repeatedly dead naming people can have a very marked negative effect on their mental health.
According to a 2021 Headspace survey of young transgender people, 87% have experienced transphobia in Australia. And they have been proven to be at a much higher risk of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse.
The best way that you can help someone on their, let's admit, rather confusing journey of gender identity-- and don't worry, they're definitely confused as well-- is to respect the name they would like you to use for them, even if it changes a few times because it's actually really hard to figure out the thing that you want to be called for the rest of your life and then not have that thing change ever again.
Gender identity is a complicated and often very fluid thing. And when a name is being changed because of that, it will often reflect this. You don't even have to fully understand the reasons why they're changing their name because those can be deeply personal and often kind of unexplainable.
You just need to make sure that you're respecting them and their choices, even if you don't fully get it. After a while, it just becomes second nature, and you don't have to think about it much at all. But to the person whose name it is you're using, it will always go a long way.
I remember when people first started using my new name. And every time someone would call it out or turn to me and say, Jordan, or when I would write my name on things and it just looked right, I would get this little kick of happiness in my chest.
I sometimes still feel that way about it now, especially when I noticed that people are making a concentrated effort to get it right. You might be thinking-- I mean, I hope you're not-- why did I just spend five minutes of your time talking way too much about myself and the name I'm way too proud of?
Well, gender identity and name changes are a complicated thing to navigate, both through the person themselves but also the people that care about them and all those around them. As an update, I have now received my official change of name certificate and new birth certificate, which is honestly just really exciting and a huge relief.
My name change journey is mostly done for now. But for a whole lot of people, it is only just beginning. So what's in a name? For trans and gender diverse people who are just trying to get by in a world that is so often actively against them and who just want to feel comfortable, respected, and happy with themselves, it's everything.
OLIVIA WRIGHT: That now concludes the prepared speech section of the 2022 state final. Welcome back to the impromptu speech section of this Legacy Junior Public Speaking state finals. In this section, each speaker will have 5 minutes in which to write a speech on a topic set by the adjudication panel over morning tea.
They'll then return to deliver their impromptu speech with a warning bell at 1 and 1/2 minutes, 2 bells at 2 minutes, and a continuous bell if the speech exceeds 3 minutes. The subject for this year's impromptu speeches will be admitting defeat. And the first speaker is here right now. So please welcome back Violet FitzSimons.
VIOLET FITZSIMONS: Olivia Rodrigo is a girl who sings sad songs about breakups, and the world never expected anything more of her. And yet on the Glastonbury stage, she got up and delivered a speech to the highest court in the United States, addressing Roe v. Wade.
Olivia swore she wore a short skirt, and she wore fishnets and looked fabulous while doing it. And as a young girl, instead of admitting defeat to the fact that her country had gone through an incredible loss for something that she believed in, she called for an act of rebellion the girls her age.
But this issue with Olivia is far more complex than we view it. Yes, it's about abortion rights in America. But truly, what Olivia did was so startling is because masculinity has dominated our conversations. Women have been forced to admit defeat when entering rooms of politics, rooms of public speaking, rooms of any variety.
Femininity is associated with hysteria, with emotion, with loose lips. And as a result, we put our feminine traits aside. Even now, I'm wearing a blazer and a modest skirt, and I'm speaking in a way that I know you want me to. I'm not about to burst into tears and wear a short skirt and tell you how I truly emotionally feel about Roe v. Wade because that's seen as hysterical, that's seen as illogical, that's seen as not expressing myself the way that I should. And the way that Olivia addressed the crowd at Glastonbury allows girls to never have to admit defeat again.
We don't have to admit defeat to the fact that femininity is associated with weakness, that masculinity is apparently strong. Now, Olivia has shown us that femininity is strength, that femininity can express opinions on an issue so deeply complex as Roe v. Wade.
And no matter where you stand on this issue, what is truly startling about this event is that femininity was used to vocalise something so deeply feminine in our culture without the constraints of masculinity, without the constraints of a necktie and a blazer.
Olivia encapsulated the views of thousands of women-- not all women. But so many women felt seen by Olivia wearing a short skirt and fishnets and swearing at the Supreme Court. And that is something truly special because Olivia has made it so that young girls don't have to keep going on admitting defeat, becoming masculine, hiding how they feel.
Olivia has made it. So admitting defeat isn't something that we had to do with a short skirt, a pair of fishnets, and a very choice use of language. So I think we owe her a huge debt of gratitude. Thank you.
OLIVIA WRIGHT: Please welcome back Anhaar Kareem.
ANHAAR KAREEM: I remember lots of things about being 8. I remember wanting to be a zookeeper, moving schools, and going on my first diet. And while it might seem absurd that at the age of 8, I learned to turn down my favourite treats, read nutrition labels, and weigh myself, the truth is that the average age for a person to start dieting is 8.
And I think what this goes to show is just how entrenched diet culture has become in mainstream culture that we can normalise it for such young children. And despite how entrenched and normalised it's become, the truth is we need to admit our defeat when we come to this culture.
Although we're constantly trying to rebrand that culture as something to make us strong and healthy or wellness culture, the truth is no matter how many times we overhaul this culture at root, it is harming people's physical and mental health. We need to ensure that we stop focusing on things like diet and beauty standards, and admit defeat when it comes to this issue to save young people who we've continually let down.
The first issue that diet culture incurs is mental health. Diet culture is linked with larger risk of eating disorders, such as bulimia or anorexia. Furthermore, it can lead to poor body image with one in 3 young Australians struggling with that issue.
Finally, mental health is intrinsically linked to worse outcomes of depression and anxiety, according to numerous research. We need to admit defeat when it comes to this culture and start to tackle it no matter how hard it may seem.
The second issue is that ironically, diet culture is actually bad for our physical health. In fact, 95% of diets fail and committed participants regain weight or even put on more. This can cause poor body image and also health issues.
So while diet culture is marketed to us as something that is healthy for our wellbeing and our physical health, the truth is it's the complete opposite. We need to take action to address it. Although entrenched, we need to ensure that social media corporations and other large industries who are benefiting off people's insecurities are held accountable.
They need to admit defeat when it comes to profiteering off this culture. We also have a role to play. We need to recognise the futility of this issue and admit defeat when it comes to this culture. We need to help others that may be struggling with their body image, and stop talking about weight and diet culture in front of the younger generation.
While diet culture has sustained itself for centuries, it's time we admit defeat so that children as young as 8 no longer have to suffer. Thank you.
OLIVIA WRIGHT: Please welcome back Saanvi Kashyap.
SAANVI KASHYAP: Being involved in a domestic violence or sexual assault scandal is a pretty big deal, right? And the involved persecutor should be shamed or reprimanded for this horrible defeat in the way that they have treated another person, correct?
Not according to Australian media which simply does not know when to admit defeat. It stops our sportspeople from admitting defeat when involved in such scandals by instead glorifying them and putting them on a pedestal and shifting the blame onto the victim. This can be seen most recently in a domestic violence situation which involved Nick Kyrgios and his partner.
Now, how many of you are aware of such an event? A few of you may be, but perhaps not most. And this is because Australian media tried to hide the details of such gory events by instead titling their articles as tennis champ, tennis Nick Kyrgios accused of this, or Nick Kyrgios's partner, the partner of such a tennis champion, said this, this, this.
Our media truly does not know when to admit defeat, which makes me wonder-- here in Australia, in a place where we admire our sports people and sports in general so much, will we ever, ever put sports in front of other people's wellbeing?
Will we ever hold these people accountable for what they've done and not glorify their achievements in the sports area and hold them accountable for what they do on a daily basis?
To all of you here today, I would like to remind you that Australia is watching what happens. Our young boys and men, they need to know when to admit defeat. And they need to know that it is simply not right to treat women and other people like this.
But how will they ever know when their favourite sportspeople, the people who they admire, are never seen taking responsibility for these actions all simply because our media does not know when to admit defeat and concede to the public that, yes, this sportsperson has made a mistake?
Our media needs to learn that they need to change. And because without it, no one will ever be able to admit defeat. OK, I urge you all. When you see a misogynistic or a victim blaming title as such, I want you to comment on the bottom of that post saying, this is not OK. OK?
You, the media, as well as the sportsperson involved in this needs to admit defeat and realise that none of this is OK because this models a behaviour that is simply not acceptable in modern-day Australia.
Help me. Help us all. Help Australia by telling news agencies that they need to admit defeat for the betterment of Australia. Thank you.
OLIVIA WRIGHT: Please welcome back our fourth speaker, Jio Yim.
JIO YIM: When Meghan Markle was pregnant with her first child, the media captured a photo of her cradling her pregnancy stomach like any normal mother would. But instead of calling her maternal or loving, the press threw words at her like narcissistic, self-absorbed, and not caring about her soon-to-be-born child.
However, a throwback to when Kate Middleton was pregnant with her first child, the press captured similarly a photo of her cradling her pregnancy belly. But instead of calling her the adjectives described to use Meghan Markle, they called her as loving, caring, and maternal to her soon-to-be-born child. Two women, both from the royal family, who have both committed no harm nor harmed another person. But one is treated in a better light in the media than the other.
And so there comes a point in our society when, if we treat women who both have not committed any harm, we need to admit defeat and recognise that there are flaws in the way that we treat the women in our society, especially since none of them have done anything particularly worthy of being treated differently to the other.
We have to admit defeat in our pledge to treat women with the same set of rules because when we admit this kind of defeat, we can acknowledge our flaws and move on to never have to do this kind of thing again.
Admitting defeat is vital to ensuring that the same thing doesn't happen again. Because if we're caught in this cycle of just thinking that we are treating women well, especially if you go onto a tabloid magazine, for example, one page of empowering women, and then the next page you see people comparing to women of the same background, we need to admit that we are not treating these women the same.
How can we say that we are living in a progressive society when-- how can we say that we are living in a society that treats all women the same when we do this kind of thing in the media every single day? We need to stop lying and own up to our mistakes and admit defeat.
I believe that we can regain success and acknowledge that we are living in a time of injustice. This looks like creating stricter laws for the media to not spread any defamation about certain celebrities and make sure that us, as a consumer, as we are the ones that press like, comment, and share, we do our research before committing ourselves to a certain opinion.
This isn't just a comment on the double standards in the royal family, because if I did that speech, I would be here all day. But this instead is a comment on how we need to admit defeat to increase our pledge for treating women equally.
If we can make women feel welcome, then I believe that we do not have to admit defeat for any much longer.
OLIVIA WRIGHT: Please welcome back Rowan Myers.
ROWAN MYERS: Gardening. It's a thing that most people within the world have experienced and done before in their lives. And I know, personally, I quite enjoy having plants in my bedroom and keeping them alive, although that keeping them alive thing doesn't happen all too often.
In fact, most of the time, my plants end up dying within a couple of days. And I have to regretfully tell my grandmother that, no, that cactus you gave me didn't survive. It's actually dead in the bin.
Now, I have to sit there, and I have to admit defeat in the fact that I've killed my plants because I'm a terrible gardener. But that admitting defeat for me, with my killing of the plants, occurs within other situations within the world. Again, with plants.
This occurs most commonly within the fast fashion industry. Now, fast fashion is a phenomenon in which clothing brands, specifically those in third-world countries, actively produce large amounts of a trendy piece of clothing with very poor working conditions and very bad impacts on the environment.
The reason they do this is because they are aware that society wants these clothes, that society wants to keep up with the trends. So fast fashion industries produce these clothes at ridiculously fast rates known as fast fashion.
Now, I know you're wondering why is fast fashion bad. Now, fast fashion, as I mentioned earlier, has both really bad working conditions and really bad impacts on the environment like my plants.
Now, while I'm just simply killing a plant to my bedroom that I've forgotten to water, fast fashion industry has produced so much pollution, both air and water, that they are killing the environment around them.
Now, on a larger scale, this is absolutely detrimental. We need the environment to be able to survive and live. Their ecosystems keep us alive, and that is necessary for life. We can't admit defeat in the fact that we need to skip fighting fast fashion.
They also have really bad Labour conditions, where the workers there are often children who aren't able to attend school and get those very bad health conditions as a result of the pollution that these fast fashion industries are pumping out.
Now, we need to stop these fast fashion industries because they don't exist within our view of the world. Many people in society don't care or think about these fast fashion industries, because they want to admit defeat. They don't see the need to even worry about these fast fashion industries.
However, we need to stop supporting them, and we need to make clothing production much more sustainable. So overall, we cannot admit defeat in the fight against the fast fashion industry. We need to continue stopping that so that they stop killing the plants like I do in my bedroom.
OLIVIA WRIGHT: Please welcome back our sixth speaker, Jenny Xu.
JENNY XU: We've all been there. We've been at a restaurant with a toddler screaming and thrashing and crying for their parents. And their parents, embarrassed, trying to get them to stop crying. Of course, the only thing that seems to be able to stop the toddler from crying is either a tablet or their parent's phone.
Recently, while ruffling down a YouTube rabbit hole a couple of months ago, I discovered a channel specifically targeted towards children between the ages of 2 and 3. The channel's name was Cocomelon, as you may have heard.
This channel, who creates nursery rhymes content specifically targeted towards very young children, has over 144 million subscribers. That's 144 million toddlers watching millions of hours worth of content every single day.
But why am I talking to you about some nursery rhymes on a social media app? When it comes to giving children access to media from a very young age, there's many insidious harms that parents, as well as us, like, for example, older siblings, might not be able to see.
So why is giving children access to media such a bad thing? Ultimately, it all boils down to creativity and resilience. Whilst there might be some slight benefits to allowing children to access media, for example, allowing them to increase their ability to read, there's many harms that only appear after a longer period of time.
For example, studies have shown that by giving children tablets from when they're very young age allows them to form a dependency on social media as well as devices. This does harms in children who later become attached to screens. And studies have showed that these children are therefore-- they have a harder time socialising when they're older.
Beyond Blue creates an analogy for parenting as well as childhood. They call the child the co-pilot in their childhood, and parents and other factors as co-pilots. However, we slowly start to see this position of the co-pilot by being replaced by things like social media as well as entertainment online.
As children form connections to these apps, they lose connections with people and lose opportunities to socialise and interact with other children, which is usually supposed to build up their resilience and creativity over time.
So why are parents admitting defeat? We should all stop admitting defeat in order to help our children achieve the skills that they need in order to live a good life. Thank you.
OLIVIA WRIGHT: Please welcome back our seventh speaker, Shirine Nehme.
SHIRINE NEHME: $20 billion. What would you spend with $20 billion? You could buy an entire island, 4 Apple headquarters, 4 Tesla gigafactories, you could sponsor a child in Africa for the rest of their life.
Every year, $20 billion are poured into the 200,000 poker machines littered across this country. Despite Australia only making up 0.2% of the world's population, it is 20% of its gamblers. New South Wales has as many slot machines as Canada, a country 5 times larger than this single state.
Australia must admit that we have a problem. We must admit defeat. With the recent pandemic, this provided both relief and panic for gamblers. Gamblers who gambled in casinos were forced to stay home, and their clubs, pubs, and casinos were closed.
Relatives of gamblers, interviewed by the 'Huffington Post,' said they were relieved. And some even said it was the calmest they had been in a while. However, for online gamblers, this made it easier to hide their addiction and play. And during the pandemic, online gambling reached a market value of $4 billion.
To resolve this issue, we must admit defeat and acknowledge these figures. There are many solutions to this, including Australia needing a more synchronised gambling system. The fragmented rules make gambling a state-by-state issue which is very confusing as well as adding a compulsory loss limit.
Currently, Victoria has a voluntary commitment scheme. That means after a certain amount of money has been lost, they can no longer place any more bets. With this solutions, we could reduce gambling in Australia.
OLIVIA WRIGHT: Please welcome back our last speaker, Jordan Steele.
JORDAN STEEL: I am an eternal pessimist. My opinion has always been that most, if not all of the time, things will not go the way you want them to. This is a fact. People say that optimism is the best outlook on life when it comes to success and overall mental health. That if you keep trying and hoping, you will eventually succeed.
Well, sometimes you just have to admit defeat. Now, it seems silly to be telling people that if they expect the worst, then it will turn out better for them. But personally, I've always thought that if you go into something with the outlook that you are not going to get the outcome that you want from it, you will be less disappointed when this turns out to be true and pleasantly surprised when it turns out that it's not.
I have gone into all of these speaking competitions, expecting that at the end of the day, I will go home. And then I get into the next round. And then I got into the next round. And every single time, it was just like, oh, I wasn't expecting this. [chuckles]
I personally think that pessimism can actually be a healthier outlook when you take it with a grain of salt. It's not pessimism, as in the world is horrible, and my life is going to end soon, and everything is bad. It's more being able to measure your hopes in a way that will give you a better resolution when things actually turn out really well.
If you go to a social event expecting that you'll have no one to speak to, and that you'll spend your entire time being bullied, and then suddenly, you find this really interesting person that maybe you enjoy speaking to, you will actually be really-- you will find it more enjoyable than if you went and you were like, this is going to be great. And then it turned out that the hors d'oeuvres were terrible, and the only conversation you could make was with a grandmother that had nothing to say except the next thing that she was going to make for bake sales on Sunday.
So I personally think that with less continuous trying and failing and hoping that next time it will be better and accepting defeat and admitting that sometimes things don't go the way that you want them to is a healthier outlook, because you can't work forever on the vestiges of imagined hope.
OLIVIA WRIGHT: Ladies and gentlemen, that now concludes the impromptu speech section of today's final. The adjudicators will now retire to consider their decision. Please now welcome back Elinor Stephenson from the adjudication panel to deliver the adjudication and announce the winners.
ELINOR STEPHENSON: Hi, everyone. And thanks very much for a really excellent final of public speaking. So firstly, before I get into it all, I just want to congratulate everyone on making it this far in the competition.
This is a very large competition, and it's a very closely fought one in which many, many students make many, many very excellent speeches. So it's a huge achievement just to be here. So firstly, I just want to congratulate all speakers.
Additionally, I just want to recognise that people would not get to the state final of Legacy Public Speaking without the help and the hard work of their teachers. Being a teacher is not easy, particularly at the moment. So thanks very much to all of your teachers for all of your hard work.
All right. Let's get into it. So in this adjudication, I'm going to start off with a few points of general feedback, some things that we liked about these speeches and some things that we thought speakers could work on. And then at the end, I'll get to the fun bit where before I announce who will be progressing to the national final.
So firstly, in terms of feedback, overall, as I said, I think this was a really interesting and thought-provoking round of public speaking. And we want to congratulate the speakers on being willing to engage with such a wide variety of really tricky and important and current topics.
I think that all speakers did a fantastic job, thinking really deeply about things that are going on in the world. And all speakers also did a particularly good job at reflecting on those experiences through rhetoric.
I think it was really obvious that all 8 speakers in this final are really excellent writers and can communicate their ideas in really creative and ways that are really enjoyable to listen to. So I think that is something that everyone should feel really proud of.
In terms of 2 pieces of general feedback, things that we thought, across the board, could potentially be worked on. Firstly, for people's prepared speeches, we thought that it was really good to see speakers try to identify solutions to some of the big problems that they were tackling in their speech.
But, with that said, we did think sometimes those solutions or those calls to action at the end of your speech could get a little bit more attention and analysis. In particular, we thought that it would be good to make sure your solutions flow logically from the issues that you talk about in your speech.
So make sure you're clearly linking the kind of problems and phenomena that you explain to the solutions that you eventually suggest, and also that you really justify those solutions and create a picture for us about how they might work, and why they are the appropriate way of dealing with the issues you discuss.
With the impromptus, we thought this was an admittedly very tricky impromptu. And writing an impromptu speech is quite difficult at the best of times. But we did want to encourage speakers to make sure that they're focusing on building a clear link between the impromptu topic and their eventual impromptu speech. And that looks like 3 really important things.
Firstly, it looks like having a rhetorical link where the impromptu topic is, in this case, admitting defeat, is referenced in a creative and rhetorical way throughout your speech, such that when the audience finishes listening to your speech, admitting defeat is, in their mind, in a rhetorical sense.
Secondly, it looks like a logical link where you think about what that phrase really means, and you try and reflect that meaning in the way that you pursue your topic and in the point that you try to make.
And then thirdly, it looks like, just integrating the topic structurally throughout your speech. So we thought a few speeches today maybe brought in the idea of admitting defeat a little bit late in their speech or a little bit cursorily throughout. And so we'd encourage you to make sure that it is perhaps not an overpowering presence throughout, but certainly one that is very clear. And that your audience goes, ah, that is a speech about admitting defeat.
So with that feedback said, and I hope it was helpful, let's move on to the announcements. So we're going to announce a runner up and then a winner. So firstly, for our runner up. This speaker had a particularly moving prepared speech that balanced reflection with factual analysis.
They did a great job talking about their own experiences and thinking about their own approach to the world and their place in it, and in particular, had a super clear focus running throughout their speech and the kind of narratives that we create about victimhood in our society.
While we did think the link in this person's impromptu speech could have been stronger, they did still tackle a really important problem in society. So congratulations to our runner up, Anhaar from Al Noori Muslim School.
And now for our winner. So this person had a really novel prepared speech, dealing with a serious issue that I haven't seen discussed in many, many rounds of public speaking and also does not get enough attention in society more broadly.
And I think this person did a great job explaining why that issue coming to light was so important for women around the world. And they were, by far, the best impromptu speaker with a novel important and justified speech that linked very clearly to admitting defeat. So congratulations, massive congratulations to our winner, Shirine from Marian Catholic College.
And, of course, congratulations once again to all speakers. You've obviously all done a fantastic job. And we encourage you to come grab feedback from the adjudicators. So.
OLIVIA WRIGHT: A huge congratulations to our winner and runner up, as well as all the speakers who spoke today. Please welcome back Jordi Austin, Tim Becker and Justine Clarke, along with the winner and runner up who are already conveniently on stage for us.
The winner will receive a perpetual trophy certificate and gold medallion, as well as an additional prize from Sydney Legacy. The runner up will receive a certificate and silver medallion. Both speakers will travel to Launceston in November to represent New South Wales at the national final. A huge congratulations to them both.
A big congratulations again to everyone who spoke today.
I will now lastly call up Justine Clarke to give the final address today.
JUSTINE CLARKE: So a big thank you again to all our distinguished guests and all who attended today. I want to say a big thank you to Olivia and Brooke for looking after us so well today. You did a fantastic job.
And I want to say congratulations, personally, to all of the speakers today. I've had the pleasure of seeing most of your speeches through local, regional, state semi-finals. And today, you are all worthy finalists, and well done. So great to hear your messages today. Keep going because we really want to keep hearing those great speeches from you.
A big congratulations, of course, to Anhaar and to Shirine. We know you'll be very worthy New South Wales representatives this year. A final thank you for supporting public speaking in our schools. This concludes the state final. Have a lovely afternoon.
End of transcript