Multicultural Perspectives Public Speaking Competition 2021 – Years 3 and 4 State Final

Duration: 1:04:50

This is the state final of a public speaking competition which is open to all NSW government primary schools, with over 2,000 students competing this year at 93 local finals across the state. Following those local finals speakers competed in ten online regional finals to determine the state finalists in this video. The ten finalists present both a 3-minute prepared speech on multicultural themes and a 1-minute impromptu speech on an unseen topic following just 5 minutes of preparation time.

Congratulations to all the students who reached this final and to everyone who took part in the competition this year, and a final thanks to the Multicultural team of the NSW Department of Education without whose support this competition would not be possible.

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Transcript – Multicultural Perspectives Public Speaking Competition 2021 – Years 3 and 4 State Final

TONY DAVEY: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Multicultural Perspectives Public Speaking Competitions years 3 and 4 state final for 2021. My name is Tony Davey, and I am the debating and public speaking assistant for the Arts Unit of the New South Wales Department of Education. I'm coming to you today from Cammeraygal Land. But of course, all the people you are going to be hearing from today are spread out on lots of different First Nations lands around New South Wales. So we're going to hear from each of them with their own acknowledgment before the day begins. And that's starting over at Marrickville West.

REMY ELLIS: Hi. My name is Remy Ellis from Marrickville West Public school on the traditional land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation.

RYDER: Hi. I'm Ryder from Cundletown on Biripi land.

MINDY LEE: Hello. I'm Mindy Hislop, and I am on the traditional land of the Dharawal people.

SCARLETT PAWSON: Hi. I'm Scarlett from Oak Flats Public School, on the traditional land of the Dharawal people.

KABIR KITCHANNAGARI: Hi. My name is Kabir Kitchannagari from Middle Harbour Public School on the traditional land of the Cammeraygal people.

FRANCESCA KELLY: Hi. I'm Francesca Kelly from Kahibah Public School. Right now, I'm on the land of the Awabakal people.

AMELIA BATTA: Hi. I'm Amelia Batta and I am on the-- I'm living on the land of the Dharug people.

GEORGIA PILGRIM: Hi. I'm Georgia from Kurrajong Public School, and I'm in the land of the-- I'm on the traditional land of the Dharug people.

SOPHIE NOLAN: Hi. I'm Sophie Nolan and I'm on the land of the Wurundjeri people.

DECLAN WHEELER: Hi. My name is Declan Wheeler, and I am from Blaker Public School from the Dharug people.

TONY DAVEY: Cracking stuff guys. Thanks for that. So I've just got a few tasks before we begin your prepared speeches today. The first one is to tell you where we're up to in this competition and how far you've come. So this competition started this year with over 2000 students. So that's a huge bounce back from the year before, back above the levels pre-COVID. And even better, almost all of those students this year competed at an actual in-person local final. Remember back when that was a thing, when kids could get together and give speeches?

So there where 95 of those this year I think it was, an all but 8 of them were in person finals. Of course, that means we need to send out right at the beginning of the day a massive thank you to all of the teachers that those different host schools who made that possible because it was so much fun to get everyone back together. So thanks to all those schools who hosted, to all of their teachers and principals who kind of tore their schools apart and put them back together for the day so that they could host one of our local finals.

Once that happened, obviously, COVID came. And instead of having in-person regional finals, we held 10 online Zoom finals. Of course, this year and for the first time, lots and lots of people in those regional finals were speaking from home, which was a new record for us. So it's the first time this year we had people competing from home in the Multicultural Perspectives Public Speaking Competition, which has led to all kinds of awesome firsts.

Of course that being true, it means that a lot of parents had a lot of extra work to do on top of all the work that teachers were doing. So we want to give a huge shout out to the parents who helped to make those regional finals happen and tackled all of those IT issues with us and got their kids there ready to go while home schooling a bunch of other people. That was amazing work. And I'm sure you guys are super appreciative of them as well.

The last person that I need to have a shout out to today was not a person, it's a team. It's the Multicultural Education team, who have been helping out-- not just helping out, who actually began this competition 26 years ago and have been supporting it ever since. So every cent that's ever gone into this competition to make it work has come from the multicultural education team. And it's been an amazing competition that they've helped to run. So massive thanks to them for all of the support from around the years.

The other thing that they're giving us today is an adjudicator. So it's time for me to introduce your adjudication panel. The first of them is Janine [inaudible] who is from the Multicultural Education Team. She's a multicultural education advisor seconded from learning and wellbeing, and she's based down in the Riverina. So Sophie Nolan is in no way her favourite and she won't be going for her at all. All right. The other adjudicators today.

The first one is Justin Lai. Justin was the 2018 National Plain English Speaking Award champion, and he's one of our most experienced public speaking adjudicators. That's Justin there. You'll get to meet him and Janine later, along with your final adjudicator this morning, Ainsley [inaudible]. Ainsley was both a primary school and a high school State Debating champion, and she's also now-- I think she's adjudicated more of these regional finals and many other finals this year than any other person in New South Wales. So she's pretty much our most experienced Multicultural Perspectives Adjudicator now. Welcome to all three of you guys and thanks for being here.

My last job is just to run through a few rules for you very quickly. So in the prepared speech section, you're asked for a 3 minute prepared speech. We won't be using bells today. Instead, there'll be a clock appear beside me here. And that clock will turn green after two minutes, kind of like a warning bell. It'll turn orange after three minutes, kind of like two bells, and it'll turn red at 4 minutes because it's angry with you and it needs you to be quiet now. It's time for us to kick this thing off. One last word to the audience. Remember to treat this as a live in-person final. So while someone is speaking, we'll ask you to leave your camera on and not shift around-- sorry, not switch your camera on and off. It's fine if your camera is off for now. I am going to ask our first speaker Remy at Marrickville West to unmute and kick us off for today.

REMY ELLIS: Reconciliation is often a word we use to talk about healing between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. But is it just a word or does it really mean something? And is it the right word to use it all? The dictionary says that reconciliation means the process of becoming friends again. But I'm not so sure that the Aboriginal people feel of the English invaders were ever really friends with them when they were taking their land and killing their relatives. Maybe conservation would be a better word.

The motto of this year's National Reconciliation Week is more than a word, reconciliation takes action. Because words do matter, but not as much as actions. So what actions can we take to start healing between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people? Some ideas include changing the date of Australia Day. But as Stan Grant, an important Aboriginal elder says, we could change the date, but that'll be too easy. The date reminds us that Australia has not yet reckoned with its original sin, which means won't earned it when it means something.

I do think it's bad that we celebrate Australia Day on that date because the English invaders killed so many Aboriginal people. Imagine someone killed your sweet old granny and then made the national day to celebrate it. Other ideas include changing the design of the flag to recognise our Aboriginal history. This all sounds good to me but avoids the change. Visual days and flags aren't really actions. There's is a song about reconciliation, called Treaty by Yothu Yindi. The words go, words are so easy, words are cheap. Much cheaper than on priceless land. But promises can disappear, just like riding in the sand.

So if we're going to achieve RECONCILIATION we need action, not words. We need to make sure that Aboriginal people have the same opportunities as non-Aboriginal people, and that they can see the same good doctors and learn from the same good teachers as non-Aboriginal people. And what we really need to start making a big change is a treaty here, a treaty now, and a treaty to give Aboriginal people some real power in the government. One idea is a council for Aboriginal people that advises the government. This idea is in the [inaudible] statement, which is written after an important meeting of Aboriginal people.

I think it sounds really good, but I worry. If it's useful advice, the government might listen. They've had a lot of advice for the past 230 years, they haven't listened. So it would be a good first step. But I think if we're really going to take action, we should change the constitution to make it so Aboriginal people have their own seats in parliament that only they can vote for. They [inaudible] like this in New Zealand for the Maori people, and it helped them get more rights.

If Aboriginal people had their own seats in parliament, the government has to listen. They couldn't just ignore them. And finally, Aboriginal people might have the same good chances at non-Aboriginal people, and they might finally be able to see the same good doctors and have enough good teachers to learn from. If we're really going to achieve conciliation, I think we need a treaty here, a treaty now. And then we can change the design of the flag or the date of Australia Day when we've really got something to celebrate.

RYDER HAWKINS: Kif int illum. That my friends means how are you today in Maltese, the language used in Malta. My family comes from Malta, a small country in Europe. They have shared some Maltese language with me over the years. Today I'm going to be telling you how important it is to share our cultures in all different ways, and one I have just showed you is through language. Another way of sharing our cultures is through food. We have lots of Chinese restaurants, Italian restaurants, we even have Vietnamese food and Indian food available to buy around our town. And we should be thankful we have places like this to eat because it gives us a chance to experience a delicious variety of foods from diverse cultures.

I think Australia would be very boring if all we ate was shrimps on the Barbie and sausage saggies even though I love sausage saggies. Everyone loves a good story. I know I did as a little kid. An important way to allow people to share their culture and help other people understand is to share their stories. For example, Aboriginal dreamtime stories are an interesting way of sharing our cultures. I have read and loved many Aboriginal dreamtime stories, and all of them inspired by a certain belief.

Another exciting way to share our cultures is singing and dancing. On native day at Cundletown Public School, Aboriginal people from high school come and share some indigenous dances and songs that we watch and sometimes even learn. The way the Aboriginal dancers dress and paint their bodies is a way of expressing their culture. Sharing these cultural ways can help us understand their culture much easier.

To conclude this speech, I would like to think that you understand that sharing our cultures is important to know. Without knowing other cultures lifestyles and beliefs, it can lead to bullying and even fights. For example, war was started because of different beliefs and other people not understanding why a certain culture does a certain thing in a certain way. Knowing how other cultures live and respecting their beliefs will lead to a much better world. After all, you would not want someone from a different culture questioning how you live. We all want to feel like we belong, and sharing our cultures is a great start. Grazzi. That means thank you in Maltese.

MINDY HISLOP: [non-english speech] My people, hello. My name is Mindy, and I'm a proud Nyapuwal girl. My people from Coonamble and Gulargambone, which are towns on the central western plains of New South Wales. As a proud First Nation, I acknowledge mother [? quini ?] Jackline, our father Biyani, and pay my respects to all my other people who have walked before me. I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land I'm on today, the Dharawal people. I'd also like to pay my respects to all my old people. I also pay respects to all that's past and present. The reason that I chose this topic language matters is because I'm an Aboriginal girl not living on my country. So my traditional language matters more than ever.

I'm lucky that I have access to learning Nyapu language. My mum didn't have access to learning our language at my age. A lot of languages have been lost because up until 1970s, government policies banned and discourage Aboriginal people from speaking their languages. Aboriginal languages are not just the communication, they express knowledge about everything, low, geography, songlines, our culture, our identity, our connection to land, and caring for country, which [inaudible] is right up the hill country.

To you colonisation, from the moment we're born, we hear the English language. We learn our numbers and ABCs, and our parents encourage us to say their names. Sometimes I think they regret that one. Language matters because it's another way we can still connect with our old people. All languages are important, not just the one you speak. Did you know before colonisation, there were over 250 Aboriginal languages? But now, there are less than 120, with many of those being forever lost. How can we help ensure that no more Aboriginal languages are lost? Well, I believe schools should provide opportunities for students to listen to and learn languages that are at a big risk of being lost forever.

Languages are important in many different ways because they can help express with food, words, and kindness. You say in you, I say nori, you say kangaroo, I say [inaudible], you say [inaudible], I say [inaudible]. I'd like to thank my aunties, uncles, my mum, and my teachers for teaching me the foundations of language and showing me that language truly does.

SCARLETT PAWSON: On the 1st of January, 2021, the federal government changed the word in the national anthem from we are young and free to we are one and free to represent our culture isn't young, it is actually really old because the indigenous people were on this land for thousands of years. But are we really one and free? By changing our national anthem, does that just solve all our problems? After doing some research, I realised there are so many issues that divide our nation. Three minutes isn't enough time to talk about all of them. So let me address some of them.

One problem that is causing lots of protests in our country is the date of Australia Day. For the Indigenous community, the 26th of January is the day when the British and took away their land. They consider this as Invasion Day and don't want to celebrate it. I think we can solve this really easily. All we need to do is just change the date. How about, let's say, the 2nd of July? Nothing controversial happened on that day. We can all have we celebrate Australia Day on a new day as one united nation. And it would be great to have a public holiday in my birthday as well.

Now that that problem is fixed, let's move on to another serious matter. I think that being one and free means that we all have the same opportunities, including education. However, some allow indigenous children in remote areas sadly do not have access to quality full-time schools. I feel that this is very unfair. Our government needs to build more schools, provide more resources, and supply qualified teachers to these remote areas so our Indigenous children have the same chance in life as everybody else.

The next problem made me feel very sad and scared when I found that in Australia, we have children in gaol as young as 10. Most of them are indigenous children. I am 10. This is wrong and it is against children rights. Children belong in classrooms and at home with families. These children have no voic, so it is our responsibility to speak up so the Australian government does something about it. We can't call ourselves a free nation when we have children locked up in our prisons.

We can't change our past, but our decisions and actions can shape the future. To finish my speech, I would like to quote my favourite author JK Rowling. We are only as strong as we are united and as we are divided. These are just the first steps into creating a united and free nation for all Australians.

KABIR KITCHANNAGARI: 50,000 years of history and culture of more than 500 indigenous nations combined with the most ethnically diverse population of today makes us Australians a robust multicultural society. This is a fact to be proud of and celebrated, because when we learn to live together in harmony and cooperate with each other, we become stronger. Now food, language, dressing, arts are all unique representations of each culture, and we frequently experience it living in cosmopolitan Sydney.

We all love Italian pizza and Japanese sushi, but can you imagine how food from different countries around the world have improved our health and lifespan? For example, avocado is a fruit that originated in South America and was domesticated by the natives. Eventually, travellers introduced it to Australia. Today, it is one of our most favourite healthy [inaudible]. Similarly, many other fruits, veggies, grains, spices and cooking methods have been adopted between cultures, providing us a wide variety of nutrient rich foods, which make us stronger and living longer. Even avocado toast with my family on a Sunday morning is so much fun, especially now that lockdown is ended.

Have you noticed when we have fun together, we fight less and cooperate more? Except when we play handball in the schoolyard. Well, Holi is the traditional street festival in India where my family comes from. On the day of Holi, people gather on streets and splash colours on each other. Everyone is welcomed with laughter and hugs as it is a celebration of love and friendship. Now, Holi is celebrating all the major cities across the globe where people from any background can come together to share in the spirit of friendship. Because when we celebrate together, we are more likely to collaborate and create a safe and peaceful world for everyone.

Create. To create something, we need to be able to solve problems. I think multiculturalism enables diverse thinking and stronger problem-solving abilities. In order to survive, countries around the world have been solving problems unique to their environment. For example, indigenous Australians have been practicing cultural burning to manage to land and control while bush fires for thousands of years.

With the recent extreme fire events across the country, the government is considering to adopt this ancient knowledge to tackle the future bushfire threat. So it is clear that the accumulated knowledge of various cultures can help us solve the problems of the future in the age of globalisation. You see, there are many benefits to embracing multiculturalism, and all of us should explore our own culture and that of others too. So I invite you all to read books, listen to music and stories from different countries. With the world is opening again, when you travel abroad, seek local arts and cultural experiences and enjoy all the good things from everywhere. Then you will see that we are stronger together.

FRANCESCA KELLY: Reconciliation is about strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and non-indigenous people for the benefit of all Australians. What does reconciliation mean to you? Have you taken any steps towards making Australia a better place for all? Are you with that Aboriginal Australians represent only 3% of our total population but 29% of our prison population? 250 years ago, 100% of the population was Aboriginal and none were in gaol. Since then, they've been invaded, stolen, and misunderstood. So how can we right the wrongs of the past and truly move towards reconciliation?

Is it enough to be part of Reconciliation Week activities and to change one word in our national anthem? What coule we be doing more? I've been thinking about this a lot, reading about it, and listening to some of my mum's indigenous friends to try and understand an Aboriginal person's point of view. My mum's friend suggested that we would all benefit from learning some indigenous words, reading some Aboriginal books, and attending local events.

After listening to Auntie Claire Jackson of Gadavu country on a podcast, we found a new way of paying respect to the Aboriginal traditional custodians of our land. Each time we pass a border on our road trip, we say an acknowledgment of country relating to that country. It makes me think, wouldn't that have been wonderful if when one of the first leader arrived, they had started with an acknowledgment of country? Maybe then a national day of celebration on January 26 wouldn't be such a hard day for some of us.

How does your family spend Australia Day? Many Aboriginal people have a quiet day with family, mourning their ancestors and their loss. Some also protest to change the date and the fact we are celebrating the invasion of their country. On Anzac Day, we commemorate those who died during the war, but there is no day to commemorate the Aboriginals who died as a result of being invited by the British. I think that Australia Day should be a different day where we celebrate who we are now no matter where we come from or what we look like. Instead, it's about British people coming to Australia 250 years ago. Changing the date when make it easier to celebrate for all Australians. It would be a positive step towards reconciliation.

Progress is already happening. For example, it's so great to new places being referred to by the Aboriginal names on the news. But there's much more work to do for us as individuals and our government. Can we change the date, change the song, even change the flag? Let's listen to the indigenous voices and take meaningful steps towards reconciliation and a better Australia for all.

AMELIA BATTA: I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land. I pay my respects to the elders both past, present, and emerging for they hold the memories, the traditions and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the nation. Belonging in a sense fitting in or feeling like an important member of a group. Belonging is a basic human need. It's something that we all want and it shapes the person that we are. Sadly, the question where do I belong is one many people ask themselves, and this is the reason why I chose it as a topic to talk about today. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people believe that the land and the people were created by the spirits or the dreamtime stories left on the Earth.

The Aboriginal people have a very strong connection to the land, but our society does not recognise that connection fully. The closeness to the land was taken from them over 230 years ago. When the Europeans first arrived in Australia in 1788, they claimed the land as their right, even though there around one million Aboriginal people who've lived here for thousands of years. They ignored their rights and their connection to the land and took the land as their own. There were Aboriginal men, women, and children killed. Families were torn apart and they were told that they don't belong.

Fast forward to today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still struggling to find a sense of belonging in Australia. History has told them that they don't belong. How do you think this makes them feel? They were the first people to live in our land. That sense of belonging is impossible to fully return to them. Recently in September 2021, the Daintree Rainforest was handed back to the Aboriginal owners. This is just the start, and so much more needs to be done.

Sadly, the question where do I belong is asked by many others around the world. Let's talk about the Palestinian people for example. Israel believed that the Palestinian land is theirs, and in 1948, the state of Israel was created. In 1950 the law of return was passed, which gived the Jewish people the right to live in Palestine, which they called Israel, and gain the full Israeli citizenship. Israel even pay the cost of them to move them. The thing is the Israelis are forcing the Palestinians off their own way with guns and bombs. They kill you or your family if you don't leave. There are over 7 million Palestinian refugees worldwide. There's a situation happening in a Palestinian city called Sheikh Jarrah.

Six families have been forced to move out of their homes in May this year, and others seven families are certain of this happening too. These families will be kicked out of their home and will become homeless, and the Israeli settlers will move into those houses. There are also another 1,500 people in East Jerusalem who have their homes bulldozed down to make space for an Israeli religious theme park. As a Palestinian myself, this hurts me so much. This is our land. My people should not be made to feel like they don't belong there. Thousands of Palestinians are now standing up to Israel. Protests have began all around the world. I personally attended one in Sydney recently. I pray Palestine will one day be free and will never ever have to prove or ask themselves where do I belong.

Finally, I want you all to think about this. How could you feel like you belong in a place where you don't feel safe, where your life doesn't matter, where your home to be taken from you at any time, where these things happen and the world does nothing about it? The feeling of belonging to the native people to the land should exist. I wonder how much longer they'll ask themselves where do I belong?

GEORGIA PILGRIM: Raviolis, [inaudible], gelato, and real pizza, wonderful gifts passed to me through the sharing of language. It is said that language is a road map of culture. From my great grandparents, migrants from Italy, language is a map they gripped on too tightly, a map to survival. My relatives desperately worked to maintain the Italian in our family. Their shared language provided them with a sense of comfort in a strange new place and helped them to connect to their culture. My grandparents have passed on many stories, traditions, games, and delicious meals through language.

And we are not alone. Every cultural group shares a language defining who they are and creating a connection with others and understanding their place in the world. So language doesn't just matter, it is everything. And yet we are letting our languages die. Sadly, we are losing the languages of the world and at a rapid rate. One language of week is lost, dying out as new generation stopped speaking the traditional languages of their ancestors. In 100 years, half the world's language will be gone. And Australia has been singled out. In international studies as the worst offender, as a place where languages are disappearing faster than anywhere else in the world.

In Australia, we pride ourselves in our multiculturalism. But a true multicultural society isn't one that aims to make everyone the same. True multiculturalism celebrates every culture and every language that comes with it. Around the world, more than 7,000 languages are spoken. Our migrants come speaking so many of these different languages and rely on them, like my own family did, to connect to the past and find a path through the future. So it really is shocking that our nation has such a bad record when it comes to preserving and celebrating languages. But our records are even more concerning with our first Australians. In Australia before we colonised, our Aboriginal people spoke to 250 distinct languages. Today, 18 remain, hanging on but only just.

To indigenous communities, language and culture go hand in hand. An Aboriginal elder from Arnhem Land explained it like this. Our language is like a pearl inside of the shell. The shell is like the people that hide the language. If our language is taken away, it would be like a pearl that's gone. We would be like an empty oyster shell. We cannot continue to strip our indigenous communities from their language, their voice. Without language, they feel hollow. We've suffered a shocking loss of our languages, and we are still promoting further loss through our current policies. We stand to lose so much if we don't recognise that language matters.

We should be embracing the learning of languages in our schools, and we should definitely be seeing part of our anthem in the language of Aboriginal ancestors. We need to use language as the road map of culture to tell us where we came from and to understand where we're going. So language must be preserved, it must be celebrated, it must matter.

SOPHIE NOLAN: The whitewash, let me ask you a question. What was the last show you watched on TV? Now think about it. Who was in it, where was that person born, and what was the background of that person? I can answer all of that for you. The presenters or actors were most likely from the Anglo-Celtic background, which means they have white skin. Australia prides itself in being a successful multicultural society, but the news says otherwise. Not only are minorities underrepresented when it comes to being a presenter on a news programme, but there's also lack of diversity within kind of bits and news stories.

According to research conducted by Professor James Arvanitakis of Western Sydney University and others, it was found that there was a significant under-representation of presenters from some multicultural backgrounds. There was also a significant finding about the lack of Indigenous presenters across all channels. In other words, more than 75% of our presenters come from Anglo-Celtic backgrounds and less than 1% of our presenters come from an Indigenous background, even though 12% of our population is made up of indigenous ancestors.

You're probably wondering, why should anyone care? Well, it's simple. Because according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it was found that 29.8% of Australia's population was born overseas, most coming from India or China. So where's their representation? Well I think, actually, I know that it's important that people should have the ability to have someone on TV that represents that culture. It's important that our generation sees that jobs within the media shouldn't just be reserved for people who come from the Anglo-Celtic backgrounds. Everyone should have an equal employment opportunity even though their culture might be different.

But there is hope because shows like Playschool BTN, and Little Lunch are trying to change by having more characters from different cultures. Channels like ABC, NITV and SBS have also changed by having people of different cultures, people of different ages, and all people with a disability. As the future generation, we need to secure a change in the media so we can make it more diverse. People from all backgrounds need to be seen and heard through Australian news and television. By doing this, we will be getting one step closer to a true multicultural society.

As Nelson Mandela once said, my dream would be a multicultural society, one that is diverse where every man, woman, and child are treated equally. I dream of a world where people of all races work together in harmony. And I agree with him. And I think Australian television should be like this, a state a multicultural society. And as I said earlier, it will be getting us one step closer to a true multicultural country.

One solution that will help us to do this is shows seeking or having government funding should reach a diversity target, and shows with high diversity should have extra funding or grants awarded. Another solution you can do, I can do, us kids can do is work with the remote. If the show you're watching doesn't have a lot of diversity, change the channel. Encourage your friends to do the same. Soon the viewings of the show will go down and the show might not be aired anymore. Another solution is you can write to the government, the council, and/or a new station and tell them that you think diversity within their shows aren't even close to equal. After listening to me and what I have to say about this matter, who do you think should tell Australian stories?

DECLAN WHEELER: When I was only five years old and in my first two weeks of kindergarten my teacher asked us all which additional languages our families could speak apart from English. As we went around the room, I remember that my friends all had interesting answers to give. Mandarin, Arabic, Dharug. Not to be left out, when the teacher eventually came to me, I replied quite convincingly that my family spoke Chinese at home. Now to give her credit, my teacher simply looked at me a little strangely and moved on to the next person in the circle.

My mother however was quite confused when the teacher asked her about my family's Chinese heritage at school pick up that afternoon. You see, the truth is that the only language that I can speak fluently is English. To five-year-old me, this was totally unacceptable. You see, I am Australian, and just like you I am lucky enough to live in the second most multicultural country in the entire world. Not only that, but our country is home to the oldest continuous living cultures on Earth. My generation, unlike others before us, are growing up knowing no other way of life in Australia than a multicultural one.

Now, five-year-old me was obviously questioning, where do I belong in this multicultural mix? I can't speak Arabic like my friend Ahmed, and sadly, I don't get to celebrate my name day like my Greek friend Pavlos. I recognise that I am lucky enough to be growing up in a multicultural society that is finally learning to embrace each other's differences and celebrate them rather than be divided by them as has been the case in Australia's sometimes racist past. My friends and I simply take our Australian multiculturalism as a given. It's all we've ever known. And in our minds, no one should ever have to ask, where do I belong? Isn't this how it should be?

Take my school, for instance. We have a total of 33 different languages represented across our student population, yet we are the same as we are different. No matter which language we speak or traditions we might celebrate, we are friends, we are teammates. We all belong. I believe that my friends and I have a responsibility to ensure that this normalisation of inclusion and acceptance of everyone is modelled to the generations that have come before us and passed on to those who will come after us. As Bernie Brown is quoted as saying, ballooning doesn't require us to change who we are, it requires us to be who we are, which is something that five-year-old me could have taken on board. Still, a few lessons in Chinese could still be fun.

TONY DAVEY: OK. Time now to move to the impromptu section where we will hear a series of one-minute speeches. And the topic for this impromptu section is making excuses. Please welcome back our first speaker, Remy from Marrickville West. Here Remy.

REMY ELLIS: Making excuses. Everybody makes them, but all for different reasons and all for different consequences. Sometimes they're good, other times, they're just for your personal gain. Sometimes, it's fine to make excuses and a lot of the time it is, such I'm sorry, I can't run there because I have some breathing problems or something like that, something that puts you on an even playing field with everybody. But for more excuses such as it's not my fault because I was just wandering here, then it's like we all could be on the same even playing field.

Imagine, I'm the son of Apple. I can just walk right up through the line because I'm more important than you totally. No. We all have to be on a completely even playing field. And what's fair? But as one of my favourite quotes says, fair isn't everybody getting the same things. Fair is everybody getting what they need to succeed. Thank you for listening.

RYDER HAWKINS: Making excuses, a lot of things can be said. My main thing is not having to do a certain thing that I hate or just dislike a little bit. For example, school. Mum, I'm sick. Mum, my foot hurts. Excuses like that. Don't get me wrong, school is not bad. But some days staying home is just a feeling. More excuses like my ears are itchy, I might need to stay home. Or can I open one present on Christmas eve. I might explode if I don't. I make lots of excuses. Do you think I could make one up to win this competition?

MINDY LEE: Making excuses. What are excuses? Excuses are another way to get out of something. Like what the government does to the environment. The government always cares about its people, but never the environment. We should take a stand. We should write notes to them about helping because humans need trees and plants and clean rivers. My sister loves playing outside and gardening. But whenever we go to the beach or rivers, all we can see is rubbish getting thrown away. Our turtles, our fish are all time because of us. COVID-19 has been a big challenge, but it doesn't mean we can't help the environment as well as we could.

SCARLETT PAWSON: Why was the last time you came into school without your homework? Your teacher probably got very angry with you and asked you why you didn't do that. And I'm sure you came up with an excellent excuse. But still, your teacher doesn't believe you. This is fair. But what if you weren't purposely trying to make an excuse? You were telling the truth? What if your dog really ate your homework? What if aliens really did come out of space and take it? Your teacher probably won't believe you. So my point is, sometimes making excuses are OK. But you shouldn't accuse other people of making excuses because sometimes they might be telling the truth.

KABIR KITCHANNAGARI: I'm sure you would have made an excuse at some point in this time, maybe like the dog ate your homework excuse or another maybe a bit lame excuse. Excuses are fine to do if it's for a right thing. If let's say you have needed some more time to finish your homework. If you made an excuse for that then it would be good as long as you told that you did make a little white lie at the end. Because that is a good thing. You're making sure you're getting your homework done. But if the reason isn't for a good reason, like let's say you wanted to bunk your school or do something similar to that, if you are making an excuse to do that, then that's not OK. You shouldn't be doing that because it's wrong. Bunking in school is wrong. So you can be welcome to make an excuse as long as it is for the right thing and at the right time.

FRANCESCA KELLY: Making excuses can be good or bad. I think that it really depends on the situation. Some people make excuses that are not true when they really are just frolicking and not coming for some reason. You might be late for class and then you told the teacher some excuse. Most of the time, you use an excuse that's just not really true. Like I was talking to mum in the bathroom or it's so long distance from my [? oval. ?]

But if you help someone and that's why I like the class, then that's pretty fair. My friend Ari has missed some class to be here, and that's a really fair excuse to miss some class because she's helping me and it's really nice. Making excuses can be good or bad. So we need to evaluate why we need to make excuses and what excuse we should use.

AMELIA BATTA: Do you ever make excuses? Well, I do a lot. Whenever I have my device, I always am glued to it. I can't take my eyes off it. Whenever my Mum asks me to do her a favour like can you do dishes, can you clean your room, I always say I'm going to do it right now. I'm coming. Well, after about two minutes, I'm still on my device. My Mum tells me, why haven't you cleaned your room? Well, I say I had to do something really important. Well, it wasn't that important. I just was playing my favourite game. I couldn't help it. So my Mum says, because you are so into your device, you're only allowed it on the weekend. Well, it is actually a good idea because now my Mum can have our attention. In conclusion, if you're glued to your device, I suggest you should never listen-- you should always listen to your parents.

GEORGIA PILGRIM: Our environment is suffering because we are making up these silly excuses. In my home, rolling fresh green hills, soaring gum trees and singing birds are all gone. The land looks scarred. And there are these massive houses because people want the bigger and the better houses and property developers want money in their back pockets. We are over developing our land and we need to stop it. Making excuses is making things up that aren't OK, to make things up that don't have a real meaning.

We are putting money first and we should be putting our environment first because that's something that really matters. We are making up these silly excuses. We are destroying the beauty of our country. Our habitat and our wildlife are all suffering. We are making up excuses. We're destroying our environment. Everybody has a job, whether it's to plant, have green housing developments, have more protected areas, or to educate people about the importance of the environment. We depend on the environment. There will be no future if we don't stop making excuses. Stop making excuses.

SOPHIE NOLAN: Making excuses. To start us, what is an excuse? To make an excuse is when you make up a lie or a story to get out of something. Take a moment to think about if making an excuse is good. Great. Now you've got your own idea of what an excuse is. My reasoning is I think excuses are bad because getting out of a game or being embarrassed of a test score is just part of life. You've got to get over it.

An example of making an excuse is that at my school, everyone enjoys the game handball but no one likes getting out. Everyone likes playing it, but if you get out, everyone would get upset. So just take it. I always wouldn't take it but now I do, and it just makes the game more enjoyable. If you're going to make an excuse, think about if it's actually worth it. Because remember, everything happens for a reason. Making excuses.

DECLAN WHEELER: Making excuses. Everyone makes excuses. But an excuse to do something like not following the COVID rules is not OK. We need to remember to wear our masks and social distancing when needed and go get vaccinated. There is no excuse to not do these things. I recently got a new puppy, and we had to make a few excuses, such as we had to make an excuse to leave him home all alone. And our excuse was we had to go quickly get something and my dog was left alone. See, some people make excuses, but sometimes, we just have to do what we need to do.

TONY DAVEY: So ladies and gentlemen, it's time now to welcome back a representative of the adjudication panel, that's Justin Lai to present the adjudication and announce the winner of the 2021 competition. Give him a hand everyone.

JUSTIN LAI: Thanks Tony. I'd just quickly like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land in which I'm speaking, the Dharawal people. Sovereignty was never ceded. This was and always will be Aboriginal land. And thank you so much again for what has been an amazing final, a final that was a privilege to watch. Now, I've done this final a couple of times. And honestly, it gets better every single year. Every time my expectations just get blown out of the water. And I get insecure about my future doing public speaking because these kids in year 3 and year 4 outdoing me at a moment's notice and doing impromptu that are so clever and so well done, that in many ways it makes me hopeful about the future and in many ways a little intimidated by how good are already.

So I think that the quality of this year's final was exceptional. The panel all agreed that they had such a tough time coming to a decision, particularly with this crop. So give yourselves a pat on the back. And I'd definitely give you guys another round of applause because you guys were so so amazing today. So you guys deserve so much credit, especially for this competition online which is, as we've always known, has never been easy. In fact, it's probably a bit more difficult than doing it in person. So you can always have that next year to sort of tell people about.

As I think a panel, here's how this feedback is going to go. So I'm going to start by talking a bit about what we thought with the prepared speeches, then the impromptu speeches. Then we're going to go through our highly commended, and then finally the winner, as it always is. So with regards to the prepared section, we really appreciate it as a penalty critical thinking and the interrogation of social issues that every speaker managed to serve up.

All speakers directly looked at their problems in a way which was really honest, which was really frank, which was really investigative, and it showed a lot of great critical thinking in the sense that they weren't just taking these topics at face value. They were really pulling them apart for finding interesting angles and ways which they could provide something of a comment that we could take away. I think as well as that, all speeches showed really good research. Speeches were able to be backed up, not just with the insights of all of the speakers, but with hard data evidence, stories that were true. I thought that was something which all speakers did fantastically and I think the panel agreed.

I think the last thing that we all think you did really well was-- obviously, this is a public speaking competition about multiculturalism. But everyone's examinations of multiculturalism are fantastic. They were really, really smart this year. None I don't think were tokenistic, they all went beyond what you would expect and really endeavoured to engage with a topic that is complicated, that is interesting. And I think you gave the competition so much credit for doing that.

In terms of what we thought were the best speeches did really well, we thought the best speeches gave strong personal lenses to their prepared speeches that gave good insights into things, for example, like how they fit into the topic. Why they care, why they were interested. Maybe they gave stories about their families, maybe they gave stories about themselves. But the best speeches here tried to sort of fit themselves into the puzzle in a way to give a really strong examination of why they cared.

Now going to the impromptu, impromptu is always difficult. And nowhere is it more difficult than in this particular competition where not everyone's done a lot of impromptus before. Maybe this is maybe your first time doing a competition like this. But honestly, it did not show. These were amazing impromptus. I think the thing that stood out the most was that everyone brought their personality, they brought the humour to it, they brought some fun examples of things that had happened in their lives that matched the topic making excuses. And we thought as a panel that it showed. They had a great time delivering the speeches we had a great time listening to them as well.

I think what the best impromptu use did here was that they took an interesting point of view with regards to making excuses. So sometimes it's really great to think about how that might apply in a slightly more unconventional or interesting way or might apply to a situation that you know but you just maybe have never connected the dots with. And those impromptus, in our opinion as a panel, really stood out. So just before you get to the highly commended the winner, we just like to note that this was a neck and neck final and this was also a neck-and-neck decision between the highly commended and the winner. So the margins, as they always are, really, really small between choosing people who are really good. So whatever happens today, you guys should all be so proud of making it to the state final.

Now on to the highly commended. So this speaker gave some really clever observations and examples about multiculturalism, examples that the panel genuinely hadn't thought about before and genuinely took on as, wow, this is a really great way of thinking about the topic. They also gave some really clever solutions. So for example, they tapped into how multiculturalism is something that not only helps us, but it's something that can genuinely fix problems that we have in the world. Their impromptu was charming and talked about something relatable to all kids, so for example, not doing one's homework and making excuses about it. So the highly commended speaker for the 2021 Multicultural Perspectives Public Speak competition for year 3 and 4 is Kabir Kitchanagari.

Congratulations Kabir. And now on to the winner because that's what we're all here for. The winner here gave a really passionate and engaged speech that really looked at the topic in a way which was interesting. I think the biggest credit that we can give to the speaker was that they provided a very fascinating and specific insight into their chosen area and gave some wonderful examples that really illustrated the point.

Not only were they looking at something which should be celebrated, but something that actually needed to be fixed, that had a problem that needed to be filled. Their impromptu I think we gave a lot of credit to, it was very specific and examined. Not only a topic that they cared about which was relevant to the topic that we gave, but one which actually looked at the world at large, which gave a broader view of some of the things that were happening in the world. So that speaker and the winner of the 2021 Multicultural Perspectives Public Speaking competition of the year 3 and 4 is Georgia Pilgrim. So congratulations.

Before I hand off, just like to quickly reiterate some things. This was an amazingly close final and the panel had such a wonderful time. We're going to be here for feedback as well, so we'd love to give you some more of our thoughts. But once again, congratulations to all parties involved. It was an amazing time.

TONY DAVEY: Thanks Justin. And I'll add my congratulations to everybody as well. Certainly as something that I didn't have to judge and was able to just sit back and watch, this is the funnest final that I've ever seen. So thanks for making it so so enjoyable. Now Sophie Nolan at Griffith East Public School, our ninth speaker today, happens to also be in possession of the trophy for this competition. And I'm going to ask her to hand it over reluctantly and virtually to Georgia Pilgrim, our 2021 champion from Kurrajong Public School. You're happy to do that for us Sophie?

SOPHIE NOLAN: Congratulations Georgia. Your speech was very good and everyone else's was amazing as well.

TONY DAVEY: Thank you Sophie. That is super kind of you. I Thought maybe you would just take it and run, but there it is presented to Georgia. Congratulations again to all of you guys, and this officially closes out 2021 Multicultural Perspectives years 3 and 4 state final. Thanks for being a part of it guys.

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