Video transcript
Plain English Speaking Award 2022 - National final

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[intro music]

SUBI THOMAS: We wish to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of this land where the school is built, the Whadjuk Noongar people. I wish to acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of the city.

PENELOPE JIN: I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia from which we've all gathered today and their connections to land, sea, and community. I acknowledge the Eora nation from which I study and the Ku-ring-gai nation from which I live. I pay my respects to Elders past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people present today.

JESSICA GRASSER: I'd like to acknowledge the land I meet on today is the traditional land of the Kaurna people. And I'd like to extend my respect to Elders past, present, and emerging.

ANNA BLINKS VAN BROEKHOEVEN: I'd like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, which I'm meeting today, and pay my respects to Elders past, present, and emerging.

ADITYA NAIK: I would like to acknowledge the people of the Yugambeh language region, the traditional owners of the land in which we meet, and pay our respects their elders past and present and emerging and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today.

SERINA GUO: I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which I'm delivering my speech and participating in this event, the Ngunnawal people. I acknowledge and pay respect to their Elders past, present, and future. And I extend that respect to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people present today.

PATRICK MAGEE: Now, before I begin, I'd like to acknowledge that I am speaking to you today from Gadigal Country in the Eora nation. I'd like to extend my respect and thanks to the people of the Gadigal Nation for their care of the land and the waterways. And pay respect to Elders past and present and extend that respect to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are joining us here today for the competition.

So my name is Patrick Magee and I will be both your chairperson and interviewer for this, the 43rd national final of the Plain English Speaking Competition. This competition began in Victoria in 1977, and the following year, it spread nationwide. It is very generously supported by the Australia-Britain Society and the English Speaking Union. And this year, for the second time, by Consensus Education.

Before we get started, I'd love to introduce your adjudicators for today's final, Annelise Balsamo, David Cockburn, and Emily Kim. Dr. Annelise Balsamo is the English Curriculum Manager at the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. She was a secondary English and history teacher for 11 years, working in both government and independent schools. And prior to that, she was an editor and an academic. And she also writes fiction and narrative non-fiction.

David Cockburn is the Head of Drama at Iona College in Brisbane. He's an experienced public speaking adjudicator and a life member of the Communication, Speech, and Performance Teachers' Association. He's currently the editor of the association's publication, The Quarterly Voice, and has twice served as their president. David has also worked for the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority.

And our final adjudicator is Emily Kim who was the New South Wales winner of this award in 2017 and went on to win the national final held in Melbourne. She then travelled to London to represent Australia at the International final in 2018. In 2019, she was named Best Overall Speaker at the Australian Intervarsity Debating Championships. And she's currently completing her studies in neuroscience and law at the University of Sydney.

So speakers, you know you've got three people who know what they're talking about adjudicating today. We've got three parts to the competition. So each of the finalists will deliver a prepared speech on a topic of their choice. The speaking time is 8 minutes. Now because this is an online final, we will have a visual clock, which will be used in Justine's screen, very nicely demonstrating there.

The clock will change colour from grey to green at 6 minutes. So that's the signal to the speakers that they are approaching the end of their scheduled time. And it'll turn orange at 8 minutes to indicate that the speaker's time has expired. If the speaker exceeds the maximum time by more than one minute, the clock will turn red. But just as a note to all the speakers, you're reminded just try to wrap up your speech as quickly as possible, once you've seen that 8-minute colour change to orange.

After our finalists have delivered their prepared speeches, they are going to be asked a series of questions by me based on the speeches that we've heard and on information that they have provided to us prior to today's final. This interview will last for 3 minutes. The clock will be on. At 1 minute and 30 seconds, it'll change to green. And then it'll finish at 3 minutes at which point we will move on to the next speaker.

After the interview, everybody will be moved to the waiting room and the speakers will be brought back to the meeting one by one in the same order that they delivered their prepared speeches. They will have 4 minutes to deliver a 3-minute speech, an impromptu speech, on a topic provided to them by the judging panel. They will prepare on screen, deliver their speech, and then go to a breakout room for feedback, before returning to the waiting-- before returning to the waiting room, but we will give you more information on that, after we've finished the prepared and interview section.

The announcement of the national champion will be made hopefully at 1:15. And without any further ado, let us begin the prepared section of the competition. So each speaker will now speak for 8 minutes on a subject of the contestant's choice. Our first contestant is Subi Thomas, who is in Year 12 at Hale School in Western Australia. The subject of Subi's speech is 'Don't Judge a Book by its Cover.' Subi, are you ready? Excellent. Please welcome Subi Thomas.


SUBI THOMAS: We've all been there, deep in the heart of the city. Amongst the babble of strangers, the pulsing of crosswalks, and the rumbling of buses as they slowly screeched to a halt. The steady thrum of the city providing rhythm to the chaos. It's a vibrant place, where dreams turn into a golden reality.

As you walk through the happening, colourful streets, you notice an alley, hardly remarkable. It's damp, cold, and dimly lit, yet behind the meagre yellow glow of the streetlamps, you can make out the faintest of figures. A homeless man, slouching against the wall wearing a tattered beanie and worn overcoat. Instinctively, you turn your head away and avert your eyes. Your heart briefly pangs with a flutter of sympathy, and you think to yourself, that's unfortunate, but nothing else really crosses your mind.

As you continue down the busy streets, you notice more and more people. Cowering beneath bridges and tucked behind alleys. Juxtaposed against the high-rises and the storefronts, they stick out whilst being ignored and forgotten. Alienated from society. Your heart rushes with emotions. They make you feel a certain way and touch certain nerves though you're unsure which. You don't know whether to be sorry, sympathetic, or just unfeeling. And so why do we try and disregard the homeless?

Well, let's think about it. Firstly, why do we avert our eyes? Is it the way they look? Maybe it's their unkept hair or maybe it's their torn clothes or maybe we like to think to ourselves that the world is a pretty little haven, and so we try and neglect their struggle. Our minds circles with unjustified thoughts and assumptions, and we think to ourselves, oh, they must have not worked hard enough, they must be on drugs, and so they must be bad people.

But where are these thoughts even coming from? Some of them may trace from our exposure to social media where homeless people are constantly berated and negatively portrayed in society. Furthermore, media ties them to drugs and alcohol; and whilst these relations often hold a degree of merit, it's simply not fully representative of homeless people in general.

The reality of their situation often strays far from our preconceived notions and the truth may surprise us because, once upon a time, they were in the same place as either you or I. However, a series of unfortunate events led them to where they are today. Tragedies which could so easily happen to us, and in truth, the average Australian is only 6 paychecks away from homelessness. Unfortunately, we think we're so disconnected from these issues that we don't often recognise it. And we neglect these problems. But the reality hits closer to home.

Truth is, that people without housing, behind the stereotype which we choose to see, often have stories of miraculous hope and astonishment. In my opinion, when we walk by and avert our heads, it's not their loss, it's ours. It's not their shame, it's ours. And it's not their weakness, it's ours. When we walk by, we miss the opportunity to learn about awe-inspiring experiences, lessons, and journeys. People with incredible tales which lay dormant in only their memories.

Last year, I volunteered alongside my school to work at a homeless shelter. And I won't lie, I was fully expecting mentally disturbed drug addicts. I had rock bottom perceptions of the people I was going to meet and believed it was going to be difficult to interact with them. I just didn't know what I was getting into. I didn't know what to expect. So I prepared myself for the worst.

But never in my life have I been so wrong. The men we met were delightful, well-mannered, and good-natured people. I was frankly surprised as they subverted my assumptions entirely. Throughout the year that we spent together, one individual stood out to me in particular. For confidentiality reasons, let's name him Andrew.

Now Andrew is an elderly gentleman, but a man of undeniable class and character. In his youth, he was an architect and a brilliant distinguished one at that. Now each week when the homeless shelter visited, we set up various activities involving music, art, sport, and technology. And each week, despite some of his physical barriers, Andrew tried his hand at everything.

I noticed his strengths were in the creative field. He had a very keen eye for art and was fascinated by the techniques and even the finer intricacies in painting. I was in awe with his zest for life, experience, and inquisitive nature on seemingly everything. He always knew the most obscure of details and was curious to learn about the latest technologies and gadgets.

Moreover, this abundance of knowledge was paired with one of the sweetest, most genuine personalities I've ever met. Andrew had the most noble, humble moral and intentions. He loved to give me pointers on life and took interest in anything I had to say. He was keen to make the most of every opportunity.

Andrew completely changed my perspective and challenged my very limited expectations. In the mere span of weeks, he became a mentor in my life. And I often found myself looking forward to the Wednesday afternoons, when we could spend some time together. And even now, although it's been a year since the programme has ended, I still think about him and the memories that we cherished. But it just shocks me that such a colourful personality could end up displaced in the way that he was.

Now in the past, I never would have said that anyone I met truly inspired me. Sorry, Mum. But I mean, inspired me to think differently about homelessness. And by merely looking at the situation that Andrew is in, you might be surprised that he truly inspired me. Throughout these visits, we developed a very close bond and so did my peers. I think all of us were just surprised by the magnitude of the impact that these men would have in our lives.

I found that, although those schools set up a programme for us to help them, it was more the opposite. I found that Andrew became a guide for me and helped me much more than I could ever help him. And it wasn't just Andrew, the other men from the institution also inspired me in their own unique ways.

They all came from such varied backgrounds, however problems with work or relationship issues forced them to live in their cars or on the streets. Problems, which could so easily happen to us and I just don't think we acknowledge this enough. All of them brought a unique blend of wisdom, advice coupled with a cracking sense of humour.

They made me so grateful for where I am today, how fortunate I am to go to the school, have a roof over my head, and take part in competitions, such as these. I found that through their hardships that they had faced, they come out the strongest of us all. And with that, comes lessons and stories like no other.

Don't judge a book by its cover, that's the title of my speech. But I wholeheartedly admit that I was most definitely the first to judge. My perception of the homeless was extremely narrow and whilst I did occasionally stop by and help them, I was never able to truly sympathise with them.

Now I can say that my perception is completely changed and I understand the struggle more clearly than ever before and realise the adversities that they faced. Moreover, I just admire their strength to keep their heads above the current. Throughout their difficulties, their resilience is both noble and enviable.

Now I'm not saying that we should all leave this room and go buy houses for the homeless. I mean, if you could, that would be phenomenal, but to be fair, it's a tad bit unreasonable. But instead, let's say, you're walking through the city, and you do see a homeless person, why don't you stop by for a couple of minutes, say hi, have a conversation, and just help them as much as you can. I'm sure that will make their day. But for you, that might make your week. Think about it and don't walk by next time. Thank you.


PATRICK MAGEE: Thank you very much, Subi. It's incredibly nerve wracking to be the first person up. He did a fantastic job. Thank you very much. All right. So we're now going to begin-- Well, first of all, how are you feeling? You're feeling OK? You're good? You did the first one.

SUBI THOMAS: I'm fine.

PATRICK MAGEE: Excellent. Excellent. Glad to hear it. All right. So we're now going to begin the interview section of the award. I'm going to ask you a few questions based on your speech. And we'll give it about three, let's say, about 3 minutes. It'll be 3 minutes in length.

So let's begin. Your speech focuses on your interaction with Andrew at the homeless shelter and how it affected you. Now apart from the speech that we've just heard, how else has this experience inspired you to speak up for or to assist unhoused people?

SUBI THOMAS: Well, I think the biggest point for me was that it was getting rid of this stigma that homeless people have these-- that homeless people are generally associated with these like negative connotations. And it just shocked me that they're not different from us at all. That it surprises me that they're extremely intelligent, extremely kind, extremely moral. And I've had a similar experience in India, in my home country, where in certain markets, we often walk past homeless people. And after helping him, talking to them, they recognised me.

And even though it's been like a while since I've been back to India, my grandfather keeps telling me of this one homeless woman who keeps asking where I am because she remembers me because we used to have talks at the fish market. So I think-- and I think I've learned a lot from them as well. They've just experienced so much that we haven't and we can't relate to. So I think it's just changed my outlook on life.

PATRICK MAGEE: Yeah. Great. So with that in mind, bearing in mind that as you say, you had this impression or this prejudgment, what was it that inspired you to join the volunteer programme in the first place?

SUBI THOMAS: Well, I tried multiple similar activities in the past. So in the past, I'd worked for helping children learn how to play fair. So I thought this was just going to be a different experience to me. And I wanted to try out something new, because I learned that I quite like interacting with people who I originally thought were going to be challenging. And I felt that I could interact with them at that stage and help them in some way. But I think that idea completely turned over its head when I actually met them and realised that they're just the nicest people ever.

PATRICK MAGEE: Lovely. So in your opinion, what do you feel that the government, whether it's the state government or the national government, what could they be doing to help combat homelessness in Australia?

SUBI THOMAS: In Australia, I believe that homelessness itself is probably, I think, it's quite more managed or at least in Perth, I'd say. I don't know about the other states. But the idea of homeless shelters. So the homeless shelter, which we worked with was St. Barts. And they'd-- I think not--

They take in homeless people, rehabilitate them, and provide them opportunities to go forth in life and become more independent. So I feel like a bit more government endorsement of these institutions would be quite appreciated, as I think the work that it's doing is absolutely incredible and super effective in redirecting homeless people to a better life.

PATRICK MAGEE: Excellent. Well, I think we'll wrap it up there. We've just hit 3 minutes. So we thank you so much for your speech and for your interview, very much appreciated. All right. Our second contestant. Oh Yeah. Yeah. Sorry, Yeah. Quite right. Quite right. Have an applause. There you go. So our second contestant is Penelope Jin who is in Year 10 at Queenwood School representing New South Wales. The subject of Penelope's speech is 'No One Wants to Be Old.' Penelope, are you ready?

PENELOPE JIN: Yes. Thank you.

PATRICK MAGEE: Excellent. Take it away.

PENELOPE JIN: My Mum, like many others I'm sure, always complains that she's getting old. She can't find the keys because her memory is worsening. The cold from the air conditioning makes her knees hurt. And my dad dyes his grey hair so often, it's religious. No one wants to be old.

Ageing is inevitable. And yet, humans aren't unified by the experience of growing older and wiser. Instead, we disseminate what is a frankly, ageist fear of it. Why are we scared of looking old? Why are we scared of being old? And is that an issue in the way that we think?

A study from a University in Belgium found that children from as young as the age of 3 described the elderly as ugly and sick. And it gets worse, once they learn how to talk in full sentences. 5 to 7-year-olds attribute a poor temper, poor patience, lack of speed, weakness, deterioration of skin, bones, posture, hearing, thinking power, all with the elderly.

And they're brutal, yes, but they only know what they've been told. Young children are a reflection of what the adults around them think, but know not to say. So in a child's unfiltered words, the elderly live off the economy, they're incompetent and dependent on others, they hinder their children.

And I think I found the answers to the question I posed before. People are scared of growing old because society has formed a judgement on what being old looks like, and it's a negative one. Society tells them that economically, they have less value. Socially, they are less relevant. And both of these outlooks need to be rectified.

So I'll begin with debunking the idea that the elderly are an economical burden. A couple of weeks ago, my geography teacher was explaining to the class the population distribution of New York City. And as many of you already know, New York is an Ageing city. The average age of a sewer main is 84. And the average age of a subway is 90. Infrastructure is not the only thing Ageing in New York. 10 years ago, the median age was 35. Now it's 37.

Even in Australia, the average life expectancy increases by one whole month every year. Our geography teacher then explained that a growing median age means, a growing group of people living off pensions. That means less people making money, but relatively more people needing it.

Taxpayers need to pay a greater sum of tax to support this large elderly population. And therefore, have less money to inject into other facets of the economy. And therefore, we are taught that an Ageing society suffocates a city. But isn't this unfair? Should we not instead be looking for how an elderly population is able to breathe life into a city?

To make matters worse, I found an article in relation to COVID, where Tony Abbott suggests letting elderly relatives who've contracted the coronavirus just let nature take its course because to support the elderly was costing the government too much. And this repeated characterisation that the elderly are an unwanted financial responsibility is simply untrue.

Australians aged 55 years and over contribute $74.5 billion every year in just unpaid caring, voluntary work. And that includes looking after their grandchildren or taking care of an ill partner as well as traditional charity work. And we take all of this for granted because it's there, but consider the alternative.

Families that can't afford a nanny or carer would have to take time off work. Elderly people make more donations per capita than any other age group. And of course, there's also the silver economy, which refers to goods and services targeted towards elderly people. Things like hip replacements or chairlifts. And worldwide, that industry is worth $15 trillion.

The number of people over the age of 60 in the world today is twice as many as it was in 1980. And that number will continue to grow. They are a group with so much potential because they have patience and time and experience. So we have to do a better job at equipping them to make their fullest economic impact, which begins by recognising that they have the capacity to make one.

More important than the economics though is the social opinion surrounding elderly people. I think that perhaps one of Western society's greatest historical errors has been its unwillingness to really learn from other cultures. And in Australia's context, I'm referring to Indigenous culture.

I was talking to a teacher of Indigenous descent, and he said that he cannot believe it when he gets on the bus and sees teenagers not giving up their seats for someone older. And that where he had grown up, even kids who were skipping school and getting drunk would not so much as think to stay seated. And it wasn't about and it isn't about being well-behaved, it's an ingrained communal respect for the elderly that exists on the basis that they carry story and tradition.

They're knowledge keepers, he said. So to him, to put an elder into an aged care facility is as sacrilegious as burning a library. In the same way that libraries have centuries of growth in truth and wisdom, so do elderly people. So how is this knowledge passed on and this respect fostered?

Well, Indigenous children are two times as likely to be living with their grandparents. That highlights that the systemic issue we see where the younger generation doesn't value the old one is simply caused by too little engagement and interaction across generations. Of course, it's structurally impossible for every family to just become a multi-generational unit. So what can we be doing?

The ABC series 'Old People's Home for 4-Year-Olds' is not only an Emmy award winner and incredibly heartwarming, it also offers a solution. Young children are still forming their opinions and we have to grab onto that. For them to spend time with older people that leave them with a positive impression is vital. Things like reading picture books, crafts, puzzles, and it can be so easily enforced with the Kindergarten Union or government-run preschools being required to visit nearby aged care facilities however many times in a year.

Not only does this ensure that the younger generation is viewing the old one through a more colourful lens, it also addresses the isolation of rest homes. There is a common misconception that the best environment we can provide for our elderly is one where they're surrounded by people they relate to, other older people. Often, however, they feel isolated from their families and wider society and being surrounded by people who feel the same way only compounds this. Thus, 52% of residents experience depressive symptoms.

The vibrancy that preschoolers can bring not only gives them happiness and purpose, but in just seven days, it can improve their balance, mobility, and physical strength. Thus, this is the ultimate solution. It brings generations together. It makes life more meaningful for the elderly. It corrects an ageist opinion before it can even begin to form. And above all, it's been proven to work.

Society's perception of the elderly really doesn't have to be cruel. In fact, perception is fluid. 'The Golden Girls' portrays women, 50 to 60-year-old women, as a group who are in their own sense dynamic, but past their prime, retired in their houses, and limited to the company of one another. 'The Sex and the City' reboot looks at that same group of women, but portrays them as traditionally dynamic, socially active, full of life.

So much has changed in 30 years, and I hope that we don't let go of that progress. I hope that in the 30 years to come, we continue to move away from ageist stereotypes. And I hope that in 30 years time, when my Mum and my dad have reached their twilight years, they'll be able to live them meaningfully and fulfilled, without feeling ashamed of looking or being old. Thank you.

PATRICK MAGEE: Thank you very much, Penelope. That was fantastic. Oh, that's good, good for us Ageing people here in the audience today that the future is in such safe hands. So thank you, Penelope. All right. It is time for the interview section. My first question is going to be, well, quite a simple question, but I'd be interested to hear what you have to say. What is your earliest memory of the elderly? What's your earliest interaction with elderly people?

PENELOPE JIN: My grandparents are actually based in China. So I was really lucky that they were still healthy enough and willing to fly to Australia when I was born. So my earliest memories are definitely with my own grandparents. I think that I didn't get a chance to be exposed to other elderly people within the community aside from my own grandparents, which is a shame, to be honest. Yeah.

PATRICK MAGEE: Yeah, absolutely. So what do you remember feeling when you interacted with your grandparents? Did you have that kind of the fear that you discussed at the beginning of your speech?

PENELOPE JIN: Personally, I think that when I was very young. I actually didn't personally experience this sort of prejudice as much. But I see it playing out a lot. you know?

PATRICK MAGEE: So what inspired you to write the speech? You mentioned the article by Tony Abbott during the pandemic about survival of the fittest, did that play any part in inspiring you to write the speech?

PENELOPE JIN: Oh, absolutely. It's so scary to think someone would say that. But also the ABC series, it was very touching. And yeah, it moved me a lot.

PATRICK MAGEE: Could you tell us about something that you personally have learned from an elderly from as you call them knowledge keeper?

PENELOPE JIN: My own grandma has taught me recipes that I still keep in mind and also she actually taught me how to glue things down on paper. I think it's the little things like that though, that leave me with such a positive impression of her. And even if those skills aren't life-changing, they're very valuable to me to know that I learnt them from her.

PATRICK MAGEE: Absolutely. Now obviously it's a long, long way away, but what do you think or what do you hope the world or the community will be like for the elderly when you and your generation start to reach 55 and older?

PENELOPE JIN: Well, I hope that personally, I'm able to continue contributing to society. And I think that so many people at that age continue to do so. So it's something totally achievable. And as I've mentioned, I hope that ageism is something that we continue to drift away from and prejudice towards older people is something that becomes less and less present in society.

PATRICK MAGEE: Do you think there's a role for the media in programmes like the ABC's 'Old People's Home,' do you think that can help us develop more positive attitudes?

PENELOPE JIN: Oh, absolutely. I think it definitely does. And even media TV shows as I mentioned 'Sex and the City' and stuff can also do similar things, even if it's not so educational, so to speak.

PATRICK MAGEE: And who would you rather be when you're older Betty White or Sarah Jessica Parker?

PENELOPE JIN: OK. This is the toughest question so far. I'll go with Betty White.

PATRICK MAGEE: Fair enough. Lovely. Thank you Penelope. Let's get her another round of applause on our screens. Thank you very much, Penelope. All right. Our third contestant is Jessica Grasser. And Jessica is in Year 11 at the University Senior College and she is representing South Australia. The title of her speech is 'Tattle Tale.' Jessica, are you ready?

JESSICA GRASSER: Yes. Thank you very much, Patrick.

PATRICK MAGEE: Excellent. Please welcome Jessica Grasser.


JESSICA GRASSER: I remember when I was cast as Chatty Sally the parakeet in the Year 4 play, with no audition. No one seemed to question my credentials to play Chatty Sally. And so I decided not to think about it too hard. But as I went centre stage and spread my faux feathered wings, I know there was no greater feeling than being heard.

I've always been quite the gregarious child. In fact, I can't remember a time when my report card didn't read, good student, but talks too much. I thought my outspokenness was endearing. My teachers clearly felt it was misplaced. And my parents, well, they learned pretty early on how to jam out my rants on the nuanced politics of Year 2.

Evidently, I've always been one of the loudest people in the room. And so I never quite understood my introverted peers. Why be silent when you can express your opinion in over 7,000 languages? Is it not a universal right to speak freely? As I got older, I quickly learned that this was definitely not the case. And so I began to take notes.

When Jessica can speak, the anthology. The earlier works consisted of multiple chapters instructing me not to talk back to my parents. And the tear-stained in chapter 4 outlining the possible ramifications or more specifically, the beheading of Malibu Barbie, if I call my brother a princess.

My anthology hidden under my bed was the lime green locket diary I'd received for my 11th birthday. This was to replace the purple Bratz anthology floating and lost somewhere between the McDonald's playground and home. Past these earlier works, the most important chapter was highlighted in pink glitter pen.

Chapter 7. Don't tattletale. Snitches get stitches was deemed as a pretty serious threat even on private school playgrounds. And so I made sure to remind myself of the legitimacy of the threat often. Now as I look over the anthology, chapter 7 stands out to me. How ridiculous I used to fear being called a tattletale. I'll admit I've become a little bit smug thinking about how far I've come from that Year 4 girl with tears streaming down her face.

Earlier that day, that same girl was prosecuted by her peers for telling on the student who flicked up her school skirt. I remember the scales of middle school justice in the court of public opinion weighing in his favour. And so I went home, I took out my pens, and I wrote those three words. Don't tattletale, a promise, an oath, a threat.

The more I look at chapter 7, the closer I feel to the women around me. And the more I relate to that girl with her shaking hands and her pink glitter pens. And so I decided to write chapter 7 revised. Don't tattletale or worse fates than a push off the slide or the beheading of dear Malibu Barbie awaits.

Chapter 7 revised, part 1. Don't tattletale about what happens to you, your friend, or the girl in your history class at parties. The lines were blurred, and you can't be sure her no or stop were mumbled. You weren't there and so save yourself the bother and don't report.

And if the Health and Wellness Institute of Australia are correct, and only 10% of sexual assault is reported to police, then what's the point? So let them taunt you in the hallways and laugh rape in your ear. Because even if three showers a day can't get the feeling of your body, because even if you need stitches, at least you, young lady, aren't a snitch.

Chapter 7 revised, part 2. Don't tattletale about what happens in your relationship or your mother's. Your partner isn't perfect and you made him angry with that one comment which you shouldn't have done. Don't tell your friends because he said he's sorry, and he's going to try harder, and it won't happen again.

But he's been stressed out with work and the gout on his foot is flaring up and you wore a red lipstick to work today, which you shouldn't have done. It's a common scenario. Your lipstick is smeared across your face, but it makes a perfect kiss mark on his fist. Don't leave your partner, because he said that nobody will want the battered wife. It's a book of excuses, it's a painting of threats. But it's not your concern, sweetheart. Go upstairs, mommy will be all right.

Chapter 7 revised might sound familiar to you. No, it's not plagiarised, but for many of the women in this room, it's a shared experience. When did we start telling little girls that it's better to stay silent about the antagonists in our lives who hurt and abuse us than to be called a tattletale? Why do the playground threats haunt and define us and why do we still let them?

I think it's because we live in a culture that told me at 7 to be good, but not too loud. And it tells me at 17 to be a mere supplicant. And it says something similar to the women in this room. They'll tell us we can become leaders, so we'll stop our protests and pull down our signs. But when we win, too bossy, too masculine, too shrill. And so in time, we blend concealer on our mother's bruises, and we wait patiently for our friend's third lengthy shower.

And so when someone asked me why the one woman who dies of domestic violence every 8 days in Australia stayed or why only 10% of sexual assault is reported to police in this country, I'll stop the showers, I'll wipe off the concealer, and I'll take out my anthologies. Littered with glitter pen and unspoken words, I will scream the words my mother spoke, and the same words that my grandmother whispered. I will scream and I will yell and I will shout, but it still won't be loud enough for ears that choose not to listen.

In Australia those ears lead political parties and form a government. So what is there left to do? Because clearly, my pink glitter pen isn't enough anymore. And I dread the day that I may use that same pen to wrap the eulogy of another friend, of another daughter, of another mother lost to violence in this country.

PATRICK MAGEE: Thank you very much, Jessica. Very powerful. Now let's get started with the interview. Your speech discusses some very harrowing statistics around domestic violence and sexual assault in Australia and ends with a cry for help. What do you think we can do to combat these sort of numbers, these events?

JESSICA GRASSER: Thank you, Patrick. There's definitely multiple avenues we can take. And we'll be looking at more of a governance point of view. Our state government can really focus on reforming the way that our police system and our court system deal with domestic violence and sexual assault, making sure that the legislation we have around these crimes acts in a way to prevent it from happening further and making sure that it's actually trying to go a step above and a step before the crime, before the damage happens to these families.

And on a more national level, we can focus on reforming the way our domestic violence payment is issued. There is institutional mismanagement where it is [audio out] for all women and all victims of domestic violence. And it's also not enough. Women and victims of domestic violence will not leave the safety of-- they will not leave their homes to flee for safety if they don't believe that they have the economic means to. And we see this when we know that 42% of the victims that are utilising domestic violence services are also homeless.

PATRICK MAGEE: How do you feel that we can give girls and women more opportunities to use their voices like you, your voice today, and encourage them to speak up? What do you think we can do to change the culture?

JESSICA GRASSER: Well, I think it definitely begins-- it begins young. We're seeing recent scandals with the Knox Sydney School that violent and extremist misogyny begins young, and it begins in cultures like our school and it's where it is bred. And so we must begin, you know, teaching children about consent, teaching children about domestic violence, and teaching young girls from a very early on that they should not and cannot stay in a violent and dangerous situations and they should speak up.

And I really do think it's about getting ahead of the curve and talking to children and women and young boys as well about what they can do to change this culture. So that in 20 years time, we do see the difference. We do see the statistics lessening because it really is about a social reform for that. And it starts young.

PATRICK MAGEE: It's interesting you mentioned social reform. And in your notes, you mentioned that you have been an active part of the South Australian Youth Parliament. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

JESSICA GRASSER: Yes. So Youth Parliament, it's an amazing programme. There's one going on, in I think almost every state. So I implore everyone to go look at theirs that's relevant to them. What Youth Parliament allows you to do is a band into committees based on what you're interested in. And you can make bills that are then debated in parliament by yourselves and your peers.

A lot of MPs come to look at it, they listen to the bills. We talk to stakeholders. We see what the community really wants because the youth voice is important, and it's been ignored for way too long. And we see that with our voting age, and we see that with the lack of youth participation within our democracy. And what Youth Parliament attempts to do is really engage us back and see what the youth wants for our country.

PATRICK MAGEE: Excellent. Thank you very much, Jessica. Finally, you said that documentaries are one of your major interest. What's your favourite documentary at the moment?

JESSICA GRASSER: Goodness. I just watched a really good one. It's on 'The Janes' and they were some female social reformists in California. And what they did is before abortion services were legal for women there, they basically organised this really brilliant covert operation that saved the lives of many women who were seeking really dangerous and not safe abortion services and what they did was absolutely brilliant. So I think watching those kinds of things, especially before making a speech like this, really contextualises what we can do as a society. So I love that documentary.

PATRICK MAGEE: Excellent. Thank you so much, Jessica. And thank you again for your wonderful speech.



PATRICK MAGEE: All right. Let's move on to our fourth contestant. Our fourth contestant is Anna Blinks van Broekhoeven who is in Year 12 and attends Waverly Christian College in Victoria. The subject of Anna's speech is 'The Discrimination of Disability on Public Transport.' Anna, are you ready?

ANNA BLINKS VAN BROEKHOEVEN: As ready as I'll ever be.

PATRICK MAGEE: Excellent. Please welcome Anna Blinks van Broekhoeven.


ANNA BLINKS VAN BROEKHOEVEN: This world is not meant for me. Or rather, our society is not designed for people like me. I was born with several physical disabilities, including arthrogryposis, lordosis, scoliosis, restrictive lung disease, and many, many more.

Though I can stand and talk for a few minutes, in order to go anywhere, I need my mobility scooter. It is my legs. I use it at school and whenever I go out. But simply traversing the city on my own is still nearly impossible, because the public transport system in Victoria is incredibly inaccessible and the current solution only works to keep us out of society.

Take for example, trams. The way of the future, new, exciting, more environmentally friendly than ever before. Yet, amongst all this positivity, a 2020 government audit conducted on Victorian Trams found that only 15% of all tram services are fully accessible. 15%. For the way of the future supposed to be for everyone, this is appalling.

When I've tried to use busses, my few successes are minuscule to the amount of times the ramp was broken, the hook for the ramp was broken, or the bus simply kept driving as I waited at the stop, alone. What about trains? Well, in order to use a train, I need to get a ramp to get my scooter on the train.

But in order to do that, I have to travel to the very end of the long and winding platform. Sometimes over 700 metres long, with no light and no shelter. I have to wait on my own however long till the train finally arrives. When it does, I reach desperately very unsightly over the gap, desperately tapping the train driver's door, praying that he notices me, wait for him to reluctantly get up get out, and only then can I get on board. Something that takes everyone else 10 seconds.

Compare this to somewhere like Queensland where in my personal experience, every train platform I've been to has a designated person who is specifically there that to look out for anyone that might need a ramp, whether that's pram, wheelchair, or elderly. And when the train arrives, they get the ramp. No more having to race to the end of the line, praying it doesn't leave before you get on.

Victoria is stuck behind. In a recent 'Guardian' article, Akii Ngo, disability advocate and wheelchair user, expressed to interviewers that it takes us three times longer to get anywhere because transport is so inaccessible. But surely, there must be something, right?

Well, there is. In all fairness, there has been an attempt by the state government to make up for this deficit. But this so-called solution is still impractical and only works to trap us at home. It is the Multi Purpose Taxi Programme. It's a card you get if you have a suitable disability, I have one, and it means that you get 50% off all your ticket fares, up to $60 for taxes.

That doesn't sound so bad. But if we actually look at the day-to-day costs. According to the Rhodes, public transport to and from the city, a round trip, costs about $12, whereas according to several taxi cost estimators from taxi companies like 13Cabs that same trip is estimated as between $74 to $107 with the 50% discount. Almost 8 times more expensive.

How dare we be expected to pay 8 times more for a basic necessity. If we give the assumption of working three days a week, using public transport, that comes under just under $1,500 per year. Disabled person using a taxi, and that number goes up to $1,100 dollars. How dare we? How are we supposed to afford to go out if we are forced to use an unreasonably expensive method of transport?

In truth, most can't. Less than half of people aged 15 to 64 with a disability are employed. It means that we are literally unable to afford to go out as much. I could go further talk about the significant mental health impacts of being unable to socialise. The economic impacts of how this traps us in the cycle of poverty, being unable to work. Just go to work. But the main idea is that, again, this solution is outrageous and only emphasises our need for accessible public transport.

This is just the beginning. I could talk about agency. How by making it so people with disabilities have to use public transport, they are essentially blocked from society. But the even bigger issue is that all this adds up to the macro effect of disabled people being pushed out of sight, out of mind.

If people in wheelchairs cannot go out as much, we do not have to see them as much. If people with confronting differences are unable to leave the house, then we become forgotten, unseen, unheard. Why should we make our buildings, our schools, our footpaths accessible? There's hardly any of them anyway.

In the words of Dylan Alcott, 2022 Australian of the Year and Paralympic Tennis champion, we deserve the same rights as absolutely everyone else. To get out there and live the lives we want to live. If we are trapped at home because we are unable to afford to go out, then we are segregated from the rest of society. The message is clear. You are less than. Your people do not belong in our new and exciting society. Stay behind car doors. We do not want to deal with you and your problems. It is the definition of discrimination.

The next time you use public transport, I urge you take note of a step or an uneven platform, and think what you would do if you were in a wheelchair. To conclude, I'd paraphrase Shakespeare, 'Do we not have senses, affections, passions? Are we not fed with the same food, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer? If you prick us, do we not bleed?' We are human. Just the same as you. The public transport system in Victoria does not seem to agree. Thank you.


PATRICK MAGEE: Thank you very much, Anna. Wow. Very powerful stuff. Anna, I'd like to ask you, as a person living with disabilities, when did you first become aware that you were being forced to exist in a society that wasn't designed with people like you in mind?

ANNA BLINKS VAN BROEKHOEVEN: I've always known. It's incredibly clear. As soon as my Mum had to stop work because there weren't enough carer hours. And as soon as she had to take care of me and organise all my appointments and try and finagle a system that didn't work, I knew.

PATRICK MAGEE: You mentioned the problems with Victorian public transport and you compare it to initiatives in Queensland, are you aware of initiatives in other states to improve accessibility or is this something that requires federal action?

ANNA BLINKS VAN BROEKHOEVEN: I think each state is a little bit different, but I would like to see federal action take place. There has been bills in place that say all trams must be accessible, actually, by December this year. But most states aren't going to meet that. And that's incredibly disappointing. So even with federal action, the states still have to get in line.

PATRICK MAGEE: Well, I know you have-- you've certainly expressed an interest in entering politics. You think we need better representation for people with disabilities?

ANNA BLINKS VAN BROEKHOEVEN: Oh, absolutely. I can't believe that most of the premiers or ministers for disability aren't disabled themselves. Like, that just seems not good? Wrong?

PATRICK MAGEE: Well, I'd like to actually look further to that. What was your reaction when Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John was denied the opportunity to chair the Senate Committee on the NDIS, for example?

ANNA BLINKS VAN BROEKHOEVEN: NDIS would take a whole other speech. There's so much to unpack. It's great once you can get it, but it requires so many hoops to jump through that any more representation from people with disabilities on the board would have been a great thing.

PATRICK MAGEE: Well, I'd like you to tell us about now you're a choir singer. You sing with the Australian Girl's Choir. What is it about singing that brings you joy?

ANNA BLINKS VAN BROEKHOEVEN: Well, I like kind of both singing and acting. I like-- I find the two often go hand in hand. So I think it's a fun way to kind of express yourself. I always like when someone says, oh, you probably can't do that. I love just being like, yes, I can and then I'm able to do it. Doing rebellious, like. Like, so one time, I went on stage and I could kind of just feel some people going, oh, and then I sang. And they were like, oh. That's pretty good. So that's always a great feeling.

PATRICK MAGEE: Finally, now you collect badges and interesting coins. What is the most interesting badge or coin in your collection?

ANNA BLINKS VAN BROEKHOEVEN: Well, some of my favourites are the coins from the Rio Olympics because they have got like-- they're the first coins I ever knew had colours on them. I was so excited as a little kid. And these like $2 coins and there were colours on them. That's so cool. So probably that.

PATRICK MAGEE: Excellent. Well, thank you very much, Anna.


Our fifth contestant today is Aditya Naik who is in Year 11 and attends Somerset College in Queensland. The subject of Aditya's speech is 'Adversity Causes Some People to Break and Others to Break Records.' Please welcome Aditya Naik.


ADITYA NAIK: I just want to check that you all can hear me and save it. Adversity introduces a man to himself. Surviving and thriving in adversity is the very essence of evolution. It is your reaction to adversity and not the adversity itself that determines how your life story develops. You drown not like falling into a river, but by staying submerged in it. Adversity causes some people to break and others to break records. A bold but interesting statement that is proven to be true time and time again.

Good morning, ladies and gentleman. Adversity can be the platform to propel you to your success, if we learn how to use it to grow or simply do things differently. So what is the difference between those who break and those who break records?

It is the mindset and the psychological resilience, which sets people apart. Mindset is defined as the established set of attitudes held by someone and it's the primary driving factor in how and why people succeed in different fields. Having a positive mindset is a vital skill to have, as it makes tedious and undesirable tasks easier and more enjoyable.

Looking for the lesson in every situation with life is the initial push to get the ball rolling. This changes your perspective, helping yourself to see better in the situation you are in, and encourages your mind to give you the feeling good, acting good, loop. It helps to let go of the struggle and shift the way of thinking.

Psychological resilience is the ability to cope with a crisis, mentally or emotionally, and to return to the pre-crisis state quickly. It is built when a person uses mental processes and behaviours in protecting themselves from the potential toxic effects of the stresses. An individual's resilience is dictated by a combination of personal history, environment, and situational context.

Different traumas at different ages have their own impacts on our perceptions, interpretations, and expectations. And these early experiences help to sculpt the brain. Resilience is a set of skills that is most often learned. How we cope to adversity depends on what is in our resilience toolbox. For some, it could be drinking, drugs, overeating, gambling, all of such activities, which do not promote resilience.

So what are these vital tools in the resilience toolbox? Realistic optimism, a moral compass, religious or spiritual beliefs, cognitive and emotional flexibility, and social connectedness. Resilient people generally don't dwell on the negatives and look for opportunities that might exist even in the darkest of times.

Developing an attitude of gratitude puts us in a good mental space. So we can shift away from feeling like a victim of circumstances. Having a goal and vision-- having a goal and a clear vision helps fears become irrelevant. And four, the biggest waves are started with the smallest ripples. So it's all about taking simple steps and consistently building on it.

There are many stories of those who have been able to accomplish the unimaginable, which only happened due to their determination and sheer willpower. They have great focus and are ready to do whatever it takes to reach their goal. They accept what they cannot change and focus energy on what they can do. Feeling committed to their goal in life gives them courage and strength.

Believing in their abilities and having a strong social network helps them to embrace change. Nurturing oneself and being always kind and compassionate to oneself gives a sense of self partnering and helps to overcome negativity that can arise in any crisis. It helps to focus on the progress made thus far and planning the next steps, rather than becoming discouraged by the amount of work that still needs to happen.

A significant example of overcoming adversity is the story of Stephen Hawking. A man to whom I am sure many of you are familiar with. Stephen Hawking had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, which is a form of a motor neuron disorder in which nerve cells deteriorate and die. He was given 2 and 1/2 years to live. He was just 21 years old.

Needless to say, the news was upsetting. But Hawking found solace in the knowledge that he still had time, and he rekindled his enthusiasm in studies and his research. He quotes, 'In fact, despite the cloud hanging over my future, I found I was enjoying life more in the present than before.'

Hawking's life narrative acts as an inspiration to both adolescents and adults, particularly those who are dealing with a chronic or life-threatening illness. His life teachings of positive thinking, focusing on what can be accomplished, making the most of the time available, and ignoring obstacles may be applied to any situation. In this case, adversity caused Stephen William Hawking to break records. His tenacity and ability to align himself with his true purpose propelled him to become one of the greatest minds of the 20th century.

Another significant example of adversity causing people to break records is of the former American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who suffered from polio, which had left him partially paralysed from the chest downwards from the age of 39. He also had severe asthma and was home-schooled. Despite his debilitating asthma and paralysis due to polio, he did not let it deter him from pursuing his spectacular political career.

Americans had a negative perception of people with physical disabilities at this point in history as they tended to associate physical visible disabilities with inferior mental capacity. The same people will often isolate and have difficulty finding work, let alone a high ranking political positions. Roosevelt decided to run for the governor of New York, despite his now tarnished image and the enormous challenge posed by his physical form.

Roosevelt tried to hide his physical limitations by standing for all his speeches and using canes and braces and podiums. Because the wheelchair is a large and difficult use at the time, Roosevelt created his own mobile chair by adding wheels to a modest desk chair. Roosevelt was in office leading the country through crises such as the Great Depression, the War of Indochina, and the Second World War. He is also the only president to serve more than two terms in office and was even re-elected to a third or fourth term before his death in 1945.

As was once said, 'If you want to look good in front of thousands, you have to outwork thousands in front of nobody.' So let's start and make a change. Let's start to outwork everyone in order to reach our goals. Let's outwork thousands in front of nobody, because after all, our destiny lies our own hands. There's no greater success than knowing that you pushed through and challenged yourself and earned your victory. As Thomas Edison once said, 'Many of life's failures were just people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.' Thank you.


PATRICK MAGEE: Thank you, Aditya. Now your speech is about resilience and overcoming adversity, could you tell us about a time in your life when you've had to overcome adversity?

ADITYA NAIK: My example would be a lot less significant than that of Stephen Hawking and Franklin Roosevelt, of course. But it's just times at school really like I have multiple assignments due the next week, I have tests to study for, I have basketball practise, sports practise, all sorts of things going on in life. I've got personal issues and whatnot.

How I deal with that, I can't just sit down and cry about it. I have to work. I have to keep working. I have to keep persevering and pushing and being determined in order to reach my goals, and submit the assignments, get the work all done, study for tests, go to that practise, play the game or whatever.

PATRICK MAGEE: And what do you think that schools and communities can do to help develop resilience in young people, especially considering we've just had the two years of the pandemic, which has affected a lot of people, what can be done to help them overcome adversity?

ADITYA NAIK: I think just the most obvious solution for me, personally now, is just telling young people young students about there will be times in life that things aren't going your way, things aren't going right, but there's nothing that you can do. The only thing you can do is persevere, try, and push through the adversity that you are facing. So I think what schools can do in particular is just-- the only thing they really can do is just help the children, help the students. So I think just making the teachers and the staff more considerate and just helping students to be welcomed would be a potential solution.

PATRICK MAGEE: Now in your information sheet, you talked about access to health care is a great concern of yours. Has that made you more likely to consider moving into health care as a field?

ADITYA NAIK: Absolutely. So I did a placement in a rural community, a while ago. And I discovered how the absolute lack of health care. So people have to travel for several, several hours just to get the health care they need. Whereas those who live in the city, like myself, only might need to travel for half an hour, and then we get whatever services we require. So moving into the health care field is definitely a potential future option that I want to consider just because I want to help those in need, just give the help to those who actually want, who actually need it.

PATRICK MAGEE: And finally, you are obviously a sports person. Who is your favourite sportsperson and why?

ADITYA NAIK: This answer might seem a bit cliche, but my idol is Kobe Bryant. He always worked hard and outworked everyone else in order to achieve his goals. So I definitely look up to him.

PATRICK MAGEE: Excellent. Thank you, Aditya. Thank you again for your speech.


Our final contestant in the award is Serina Guo who is in Year 11 and attends Canberra Girls Grammar in the ACT. The subject of Serina's speech is 'The Second Wave of Social Media and the Currency of Human Attention.' Serina, are you ready?

SERINA GUO: Yes. Thank you.

PATRICK MAGEE: All right. Please welcome Serina Guo.


SERINA GUO: Can you all see and hear me fine? OK. Great. Remember the start of the internet, when social media platforms were social tools, created to encourage connections between friends and family? I don't, I wasn't quite born then. But I've heard enough to understand the online tools we use today are drastically different to those used decades before.

I opened my phone today, and I am bombarded with the latest tragedies occurring across the world. And if I decide that is too much, I can scroll to a girl showing off her outfit of the day. If that's not my cup of tea, I have access to a wealth of information created by strangers from all walks of life. Anything I could ever want to see.

See, young people were not born apathetic or reliant on social media. But we also live in a world in which the internet exists not for the user, but for the profit of the corporations that run it. Their only goal is to keep you logged on so they can capture and sell your attention to the highest bidder.

What I hope to convince you of in this speech is not that social media is evil or even that we're addicted to it. You all know that. But that's just the problem, isn't it? We all know that there are issues to solve, but we've lost the passion and momentum to fight for a solution.

So what exactly is the problem? We scroll past thousands of posts each week, ranging from absolutely whack to incredibly boring. And we simply don't have the bandwidth to care as deeply about everything we see. This leads to a feeling of complacency and passivity, even when we know something is wrong.

Additionally, social media takes up a very unique role in our lives. We all have limited amounts of free time and social media algorithms work very, very hard to take up that time, keeping us engaged. The time we spend on social media replaces the time that we could be spending on other sources of information, creating an information monopoly held by media corporations.

According to Google's own internal research, nearly half of its younger users prefer TikTok or Instagram over Google when seeking information. Now that would be OK if we're only after advice on where to go out for dinner or which skin care product to buy next. But when users are relying on social media for information on current affairs and scientific research or to learn about cultural or spiritual practises, the potential consequences are incredibly dangerous.

When social media platforms are the one source of information we consistently engage with and their algorithms are designed without caring about the consequences for us, as individuals, we risk becoming increasingly disconnected. It would be reassuring to say that the polarisation that occurs is marginal, but many young people's social media use does mirror what I've described. My own included.

When we log on, the social media algorithm shows us content that will keep us logged on. And all we see is content that affirms our worldview and our ideas. We are never shown opposing or confronting opinions. And in fact, we are likely to be recommended increasingly extremist views because an emotional investment means more attention dedicated to social media. A Facebook internal review actually found that around 60% of all extremist group joins were from algorithmic recommendations.

So I recently had about a creator named Andrew Tate. Tate is known for misogynistic content that promotes the alpha male lifestyle through objectifying women. He has several human trafficking and sexual assault allegations against him, yet his followers continue to support him for encouraging them to be empowered men, and many justify following him because they agree with the meaning behind some of the things he is saying. His content threatens the safety of women all around the world, yet it continues to be given a platform.

Why does this happen? Firstly, it's clear that platforms do not care about the content on their sites as long as it earns them profit. Only once there was incredibly widespread backlash about Tate did platforms take action against him because it was affecting their reputations.

Clearly, the one thing that holds social media corporations accountable is public outrage, and it is becoming increasingly rare. Because of our passivity, extreme stances are frequently allowed to go under the radar without much opposition. This absolutely isn't because we have become bad people. There simply isn't the same urgency to take a stand and expend large amounts of energy online when we can simply scroll past.

I certainly still care about incredibly important issues like climate change or speaking up against problematic figures, like many young people my age. But I also do catch myself posting an infographic on my Instagram story and considering my job well done. The question I would like to explore is how we can take back control and avoid the devastating impacts on our ideas and communication.

When we passively consume content, the internet becomes a breeding ground of dangerous polarising views where there is no accountability. And that makes us, as a society, more prone to an action against the injustices occurring around us. And I believe we simply must not tolerate it any longer.

Achieving that goal, of course, is not simple. I'm the first to admit the benefits of internet access, but there is a significant difference between being a conscious and aware social media user and being a product and a dupe of the digital world. It is very difficult to come up with a solution against corporations that have the very best engineers and programrs and psychologists and programrs working to maintain the status quo. But individual actions can make an incredibly significant difference by both improving our own lives and ideas and thus, our communities, as well as creating a new global mindset

I've begun to do a few things in my own life to achieve this. Firstly, I'm expanding my horizons, whether that is checking out an essay collection or taking the small step of reading a few news articles. I found that there are many accessible sources of information out there that provide a reality check when I get taken away by the latest hot takes of the internet.

Secondly, I'm actively trying to be passionate. When I do come across content that I really like or content that I think is harmful, I'm pausing and doing anything I can to show that, whether that is simply liking a video or reporting one. While these actions are only small changes in my consumption habits, individual actions can make a huge impact on our lives and how we consume information. However, I'm also very aware that individual action won't be enough to fully make platforms regulate the content that is on their sites.

You may remember a few minutes ago when I said that public outrage is the only thing holding social media platforms accountable. This is clearly not enough. Governments have historically under-regulated social media platforms, and it is time for them to take legislative action and hold platforms accountable to the content on their sites, as well as individual creators accountable to the things that they say. This legislation may simply look like requirements for corporations to monitor their platforms more carefully or even putting in place new laws that would mean social media platforms or creators can be held legally accountable for spreading harmful and violent content.

I desperately do not want children to grow up in the same online world that we have because I've experienced firsthand just how much of a difference it can have on every aspect of your life. Ultimately, our social media use needs to change. And instead of just standing around and talking about it like I just have, I guess, let's leave today with the passion and determination to work towards a solution.

PATRICK MAGEE: Thank you very much, Serina. And thank you for making us all feel incredibly ancient at the beginning of your speech there. So Serina, you are what we call, in education, a digital native. You're someone who's grown up with the internet, with social media in a way that other generations haven't. What differences have you seen in the way that you use or you and your friends use social media compared to how your parents use it or your grandparents?

SERINA GUO: I think the one thing is that there is kind of a learning curve when social media is introduced to maybe later in your life. So the way that I or my peers use social media is very almost second nature. We turn to it throughout the day. We maybe adjust to new features very quickly.

And I think one really big thing about that is that we are not as aware or I guess distressed when there are new changes or we identify problems. And that is perhaps where the older generation, and especially educators can come in because I feel like they are probably more equipped to be aware of the problematic aspects of social media. And they can use their influence to guide younger generations in healthy social media consumption.

PATRICK MAGEE: You mentioned Andrew Tate in your speech, as obviously been a lot of news about Andrew Tate. Outside of what governments can do, what should social media platforms be doing to prevent the spread of harmful information like his?

SERINA GUO: OK. So you may have heard recently that a lot of social media platforms have banned his content. And I think that while this is an incredibly good step, it came far too late. And I think that a lot of the damage has been done. So one of the really important things that social media platforms need to start doing to prevent harmful content is to be monitoring their platforms and banning content or flagging content very early on before it has the chance to spread kind of harmful ideologies.

PATRICK MAGEE: Do you think this is something that social media companies can be trusted to do on their own or does it require government intervention?

SERINA GUO: I do think it requires government intervention because like I set up in my speech, social media corporations are very profit-driven and they don't inherently care about the integrity of the content on their site. And so they need to be held accountable to some extent.

PATRICK MAGEE: Now one of the issues that concerns you, as you mentioned in your speech, is climate change, climate action, and sustainable future. What role do you see social media playing in helping us achieve that?

SERINA GUO: I think something about climate change is that it's very statistics driven. And sometimes people become more concerned or more involved in a movement when they realise how pressing the issue is. And so social media can really play a role in getting more people to first of all care, and then also as a tool to be able to organise things like protests and rallies.

PATRICK MAGEE: Now in your info that you've provided to us, you mentioned that you'd love to travel as part of your job. So to finish off, where would you most like to travel and why?

SERINA GUO: Something about me is that I have a lot of relatives who are based in China, like Penelope, I guess. And I, before COVID, we were able to travel back to China, I think maybe once a year, which I was very privileged to be able to do. And I think that cultural connection is incredibly important to me. And I would really love to be able to establish those connections with other countries, other minority countries with very rich cultural histories.

PATRICK MAGEE: Excellent. Thank you very much, Serina. And thank you again for your speech.

SERINA GUO: Thank you.

PATRICK MAGEE: Well, that brings us to the end of the prepared section. So now what's going to happen is that everybody is going to be moved to a waiting room and the finalists will return one by one to give their 3-minute impromptu speeches. Each finalist will be speaking on the same subject. And they'll be given four minutes preparation time.

SUBI THOMAS: It's 9:00 AM. I'm sitting at my desk in front of the screen. It's a quiet room only accompanied by the sound of the aircon vibrating along in the background. I watched the screen and the loading symbol as it dances and circles, as I wait to be let inside. The National Finals, that's scary, isn't it? But it's worth the risk.

You never know if you never tried. I try to live by this philosophy in my life and adapted to all different areas of my life. So I'll admit, I'm not a jack of all trades, but I think it's important to try to be. For example, throughout my years of school, I take part in various competitions, ranging from debating to drama to sport and public speaking as well.

I believe that a holistic-- that preparing a child for the real world involves a holistic approach. School is worth much more than marks in your ATAR or getting accepted into University or getting into a good profession, it's about becoming a rounded person. Because what good are grades, if you don't have a balanced life?

The nerves that I feel before competition such as these or the nerves that I'm feeling right now, standing here, talking to you, that's quite a risk. I could risk failing, I could risk standing here and freezing, but it's all worth it in the end. As I'm waiting for the flag to fall before a race or the whistle to blow in my last penalty shot, I could risk failing all of those, but I gain the experience and the understanding and the knowledge and that's worth much more.

In my opinion, it's always worth the risk to get the reward. In life, we'll face many opportunities and many challenges along the way, all with their individual sets of risks. And whilst you can think of the negative, you can think of the positive as well. Look to what you can do and don't focus on what you can't.

I've taken quite a big risk right now, writing this speech. And I'll admit, I'm not very prepared, but I think the most important thing is that out of this, even if I don't win, even if I don't make it anywhere, the important thing is that I've tried and this will help me in the future. And for these reasons I believe that taking the risk is the most important thing so you can reap the rewards in the future. Thank you.


PENELOPE JIN: Technology is a blessing. Automation is a blessing. But we have to ask ourselves whether or not it's worth the risk. In the world of law, technology like Heart in the UK and Compass in the US, I believe those are the correct names, are allowing lawyers to filter through papers quicker. It means that sentences can be distributed faster, and it means that the lines are shorter.

It sounds like a great thing. But we have to ask ourselves, when technology has access to data that is inherently biassed because of previous biases in precedent cases like in the years before, is that a risk that we can allow to continue? We have to ask ourselves whether a technology that can scan faces and try and associate them with criminals is something we want to have in our world.

In the world of medicine, technology is offering similar blessings. In the sense that when Ukraine faces shortages of medical supplies, instead of sending over supplies that is very difficult given states, they're able to send through 3D printing outlines, which can then be printed within Ukraine and allow for this technology to reach places in need much easier, making it accessible to countries which would otherwise be hard to distribute such things to. It means that in the field of medicine, human error is minimised with robot hand can-- with robot hand being able to carry through surgery.

However, all of this poses its own risks in that it minimises jobs, it minimises occupations, and that is another risk to the world. But where do we draw the line? Well, personally, I think that what becomes the most key thing when we ask ourselves whether or not something is worth the risk is safety.

Safety always comes first. And that's why we think that it's not worth the risk to go in a car where the seatbelt doesn't work. It's not worth the risk to put ourselves in a dangerous situation. And when technology becomes dangerous to us, that is when it is no longer worth the risk. And this occurs when it can imitate humans.

When technology reaches a point where it is indecipherable from human activity, that is where we should become concerned. What does this look like? It looks like robots that can do art. But that sounds harmless, right? We think that when-- what actually is more dangerous is deepfakes. In the growing world of technology, this ability to manipulate current videos and audios into something that is useful for a political purpose is completely a risk that is not worth being taken.

In fact, videos that have been manipulated by deepfakes, when passed through participants, are almost indecipherable to a participant 50% of the time. That means 50% of the time, when a video has been manipulated to have a politician or a celebrity or anyone else saying something they haven't actually said or were doing something that they've never actually done, 50% of the time that looks real.

Even more scary is 70% of the time, when it's just audio, when it's just a voice, this also passes through as indecipherable to the average participant. Now that means that there's a whole new pathway for internet scammers to call you and ask for money as your son, as your mother, as someone close to you. But it also means that in the world of misinformation, it is even harder to find and decipher credible sources from ones that aren't.

As someone who can't pro, as someone who isn't techie, this sort of risk means that I, as a consumer of media every day and many others, are unable to do anything about it, once this issue becomes more and more mainstream. And is infiltrating social media more readily than it currently is. It means that-- But, with that being said, for every scaredy cat like me, there is a daredevil who this is worth the risk for. And in that world, we should hope that safety concerns online are able to be addressed. Thank you.


JESSICA GRASSER: I've made a series of massive risks throughout my entire life. Like the fringe when I was 7, which admittedly, wasn't as big of a risk as I made it out to be, or joining the basketball team when I was 11, or my most recent risk which was joining my new school at 16. I completely left a comfort zone, which I liked. It was fine for me and it wasn't completely terrible. But what I knew was that if I made a risk and I strive for better and I put myself on the line where I could be adversely affected or have positive outcomes, it would be where I found the challenge within myself.

But despite these big risks, I think the greatest risk that I've committed to was learning to be myself. I come from a family where no one has graduated high school. I come from a family of people that love sports, an army family, a family that's tough and brave, a family that doesn't read very much, and certainly likes to make fun of me for my glasses.

I then went to a school where being nerdy or smart wasn't exactly commended. And in fact, a lot of the time, it was frowned upon. But what I found was if I woke up every day and I risked being ostracised, being made fun of, being bullied, I would realise that being myself was a greater risk than any adverse effects that could come with it.

In fact, I believe that if everyone took the same risk every day and chose to be themselves a little bit more often, that would all end up a lot more positive people and would have a world that was diverse and confident and accepting of flaws and differences between anyone. I believe that by making those risks every day, little risks that challenge yourselves, whether that be that risky haircut that you think doesn't look very good from your side profile or moving schools or making the gigantic risk to love yourself, no matter who says differently, no matter who you're surrounded by, or no matter what other effects are around you is the greatest risk that you can take.

So yes, risks are almost always worth it. Because even when they might not turn out how you wish them to, because even when the adverse effects seem to pile on, we come out of it more knowledgeable. We know ourselves. We know who love and support us. And we become ready for the next big risk, which we will take.


ANNA BLINKS VAN BROEKHOEVEN: Is it worth the risk to leave when you are not wanted. I was in the Australian Girl's Choir for many years. I started off when I was a little kid in grades 1 or grade 2. I was so excited to join a group of girls who love to sing. But as I got older and I moved up the levels, I got to a point where you had to audition for the next level. So I did. I didn't get in. That's OK.

I read it again, I did it again, I auditioned. I still didn't get in. That's fine. I did it a third time. By this time, I was getting older, and it was getting a little bit uncomfortable being with girls who were still in grade 5 and I was almost 15. So after my audition that I again didn't get in. I called and I asked, why. Like, what could I do to improve? They said my singing was excellent and I'm definitely on par. It's just my dancing. I couldn't dance and so I wasn't ready to move up.

Of course. I reminded them that I'm disabled. I can't dance. Like, that's kind of-- I am physically unable to move that way. And their response was, oh, you can just have more surgeries. It was then that I realised the disappointment and rejection I've been feeling at class was because I was not wanted.

Several years ago, I had the option to either stay with AGC or join a different drama group. This drama group pulls 3dArts, was loving and open, and I always felt comfortable and safe there. But I didn't want to-- I didn't want to lose my chance. I didn't want to risk not getting something great and not joining a well respected group.

So I didn't take the risk. I chose the safe option, which was to stay where I could have the, quote unquote, 'best opportunity.' We need to have the courage to leave. Often when people think they have to stay, they think of the risks that come with not leaving. But if you're not wanted, you shouldn't stay because it will never be worth the risk, because leaving will always be worth the risk. Thank you.


ADITYA NAIK: Whenever I'm out with my friends, we go bowling, go grab dinner. And afterwards, we go grab some ice cream as a little treat. Now the age old question, what flavour should I choose? Personally, I like cookies and cream. I get it every single time because I love it.

Now whenever we go to Baskin-Robbins, there's always a multitude of flavours that I can choose from. There's chocolate, there's vanilla, there's strawberry, bubblegum, and so many others, I can't even think. Now is trying something that I don't like as much or trying something new really worth the risk?

I could always go with cookies and cream, which is something I always know I will enjoy or I can try something new, which I've never had before, which could have the potential to either be really, really good, extravagant, favourite flavour of all time, or maybe not so enjoyable. Now is it really worth it to sacrifice something where the enjoyment is guaranteed to something which could be variable?

This is an essence of life. We need to try new things in life. Otherwise, life would just be boring. How would your life be if you hadn't randomly started playing an instrument or started playing that sport that you really liked? How different would your life be? You wouldn't have such an important element of your life, you wouldn't have that anymore.

Now how would you know what you like, because you haven't tried anything new? You don't know if it's worth the risk or not. How would you know what you like? An example of this is schools implementing elective subjects for students at a young age. Students get to make a choice about what subjects they want to do, what subjects they'd rather not do.

Now, how would students know what they would like without taking a risk and choosing something? Go try engineering, go try art, go try music, go try those subjects that you haven't really done before because how would you know otherwise what you like or what you don't. That's why you should always ask yourself, is it worth the risk?


SERINA GUO: Throughout my childhood, I've been told not to do risky things, things that might put me in danger, trying out risky equipment on the playground. My parents have always told me to stay away from risky things because they simply aren't good for your safety. I think that's a very understandable concern. Which parents want their children to go out and take all sorts of risks that can put them in danger?

However, there are so many benefits to your personal life when you go out and you take risks. I've learned so much from participating in this competition, even though it scared me. I've gone out and I've taken risks with my relationships and with the things that I've chosen to do and they've all brought personal benefit to me. But what I really wanted to talk about was taking risks in your society.

Often, governments and political agendas are going to tell you that you shouldn't take the risk and speak up for minority groups. That you should not take the risk and choose to protest and organise rallies and fight for what you believe in. But often, while these things are risky, standing up for marginalised groups and vulnerable communities, fight to their rights, and allows them to also have the freedom and the safety to take risks where they live.

This is especially true in countries with oppressive governments in which groups of people are oppressed and they are silenced. And therefore, it is definitely worth the risk to stand up for those people and speak out for their rights, even if it might cause danger to yourself.

This is seen for whistleblowers in China. It was seen when the suffragettes fought for women's voting rights. And it was seen recently in the Black Lives Matter protests in America. All of these protesters fought for other people's rights and put themselves in huge amounts of risks in order to make sure that everyone else was able to be in an environment where it was safe for them to take risks.

Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, it will always be worth the risk to stand up for those people who are less fortunate than yourself and stand up for those people who do not have that same freedom to take risks. I urge you all to go out and not be afraid of taking those risks for those who are less fortunate as yourself and to also take those risks in your personal life that you believe will lead to great personal improvement. So for personal improvement and societal growth and fighting for those who don't have as much of a voice, I urge you all to please understand that it is worth the risk.


PATRICK MAGEE: I'd now like to call on Emily Kim to announce the winner of the National final of the Plain English Speaking Award for 2022 on behalf of the adjudication panel. Over to you, Emily.

EMILY KIM: Thank you so much, everyone. I just want to-- I know it's the first that I've spoken in the big room. So I just want to also do a quick acknowledgment to Country before I begin. I'd like to acknowledge the Cammeraygal people of the Euro nation, which is where I'm speaking to you from today. I acknowledge and pay my respects to Elders both past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Sovereignty has never been sated. This always was and always will be Aboriginal land.

Before I continue. I also want to take the opportunity to thank everyone for being here today, including obviously our speakers, but also all their supporters, all our honoured guests. Justine, of course. And also Patrick for the amazing questions. I don't know if you saw me vigorously nodding along to your questions, but I thought they were fantastic. So thank you so much. You made it 10 times more fun and it was already brilliant to begin with. So thank you to everyone.

I am going to run this adjudication the way that we normally do. So I'm going to start off with a little bit of general feedback. So obviously, we've given you a little bit of personalised feedback on your speeches. But we felt like there were a few key things that we wanted to reiterate for all the speakers, knowing especially that some of you aren't saying you're 12 yet and might want to pursue further public speaking, which I really hope you all do. We wanted to give you some takeaways for those future public speaking experiences and opportunities.

So I will start off by speaking a little bit about your prepared speeches or kind of, I guess, topics for your speeches more broadly. I think firstly, at this level, you're all very polished and incredibly calm in terms of how you present your speeches. So you won't hear me say anything about the mode of presentation or your manner.

Like, I think at this level, you're all chosen to be here for a reason, and you really prove that today. Everyone spoke wonderfully. Even through a very large Zoom room, I was able to hear everyone crystal clear. So we had nothing to say at all on how you actually present your speeches. So well done to all speakers on that front.

What we really wanted to advise you on in terms of your prepared speeches is to be willing, I suppose, and don't feel the need to shy away from really inhabiting the voice of the young person that you are. So we don't need you to give a speech that an adult motivational speaker might give or that a TED Talker might give or even that a politician might give. Of course, those topics are more than open to you, and we're really, we were really, really thrilled with the range of topics this year.

Like, I genuinely found all of the speeches so interesting, and I feel like I learned a great deal. So I loved the topics and my fellow adjudicators were completely in agreement with this. But when you're actually speaking about those topics, really lean into showing us, as not only the judges, but the audience why it is you that should give this speech.

And that doesn't necessarily mean that you need to feel like you should tie it down to a very particular anecdote or story from your personal life that is inextricably and very obviously tangled to the topic, that's definitely not the case. You don't have to only speak on things where you have an anecdote to link it to. But even if it's just something like being very clear about say, why it is that this particularly matters to you, whether that be you as a young person or you as somebody with a certain lived experience or you as somebody who got a unique opportunity to interact with somebody with that lived experience, whatever it may be, give that in your speech.

I think the freedom to shine a little bit more because I think that's what really makes prepared speeches resonate with people because we all know how much research you put in, all of you are very polished speakers. What often then sets speakers apart at such a high level of performance is whether or not we feel like, oh, this is a speech that only that speaker could have given because it comes from a place that is genuinely embedded in their beliefs or something that they've learned or there is a sense that they know that if I don't give this speech, nobody else can give it the same way that I can.

And I think that's something that you should think about when you compose your speeches, is what is it I can inject into this, that means that if somebody else gave this speech, it might not be the winning speech. But if I give it, it can be. It's kind of I think the mindset to take into it.

And I think as kind of part of that, it would be really nice to hear more of your perspectives on what you think our next steps as the audience should be. So I think that it is incredibly important for speeches to be used to raise awareness about issues. And I definitely think that you, again, should continue using this opportunity to raise awareness, especially about issues that maybe have not gotten the kind of airtime that it should in public discourse.

But because you are such compelling speakers, it's pretty safe to assume that after hearing the part of your speech where you tell us that there's a problem or that there's something we should know about, pretty much everyone in the audience is going to be like, wow, I agree. You know, that is obviously a very important issue. I'm glad I heard about it.

And the next response then will naturally be, as an audience member, you know, gosh, I wonder what we can do about that because we don't want to walk away feeling like we learnt something really awful, but there's kind of no hope, for instance, or that there's nothing that we can do. Even if the situation is bleak, currently, I think it can be really helpful to fully engage your audience and take it from a speech that just had impact in the 8 minutes you gave it to something that they'll think about when they leave and they'll think about when they vote or when they next surf the web or talk to their family or their friends.

What it is that you think that we, as a community, should do. And to be really clear, that doesn't need to be like a checklist or a to-do list of things that an individual should do. You don't have to go, here are three things you should do after going home today, one, recycle, or whatever. I'm not saying you need to do that. Just that where you think that there is a need to say, shift discourse in a particular way.

Don't just tell us we should shift discourse. Tell us how, from to what, or if you think there should be structural reform. Again, don't just say the government needs to do more or that we should have structural reform, but tell us what's missing and what we should pay attention to most. Because in all these issues you guys are talking about, they're all very, very important issues.

There are so many ways to go about addressing them. And part of the way you inject your personality into it is by pointing out to me what you think is most important and what you think the priority should be. And there's often no wrong answer with that. So we genuinely want to hear what you think from your experience and your perspective as a young person, where should our attention go to first, if we are to walk away from this speech wanting to take action based on what you've told us about.

So I think that's kind of one thing that I would really advise speakers to, again, not be afraid to do. I know that it might seem like a daunting task. And nobody expects you to solve problems that governments can't stop arguing about over and over again for decades. But it would be nice to know which part of that argument you think we should maybe focus on.

In terms of the impromptus. Again, well done. I obviously was in your shoes a few years ago. And I completely understand how just blurred they can be. They're so daunting. You prepare and prepare, but you still go in, and it's so scary giving a speech in 3 minutes, I think. So really, really commend everyone on what was some, again, very polished speeches today.

The advice we really wanted to give you with your impromptus is because the speaking time is so short, because it's only 3 minutes, you don't need to feel the need to follow the same kind of structure that maybe you typically are accustomed to when giving a longer speech. So starting with a sort of anecdote or general exploration of the topic or the title. You don't need to do that with an impromptu because we understand your shorter on time.

So for instance, with our topic today, worth the risk, you don't need to spend say the minute or a minute and a half at the start going worth the risk, what does that mean or kind of talking about the abstract idiom or talking about just general other instances, where you've taken risks. I get that is something that often works really well to introduce us to a prepared speech, but because 3 minutes is so short, we will completely understand if you need to jump into the meat of your speech a little bit faster when it comes to the impromptu.

And I think that you should try to have a meat of your speech. So there should be a particular angle that you want to take us to. Yes, the title has been provided to you and it has to be about worth the risk. But I think there are so many ways you can take that. And just like you did with your prepared speeches, the impromptu speech is another opportunity to share an insight to the audience about something that they may not have thought about or might not even have known about.

Obviously, not maybe to the same depth and the same thoroughness, but I definitely still think it's an important opportunity for you to give us something else that you're interested in. Because I'm sure, you all have many, many interests, many, many current affairs that you're invested in and care about. We would have really loved to hear maybe a slightly different one. Maybe something that you didn't have enough to give a prepared speech on, but you still really want to tell us about because it's interesting or worth knowing about.

I think something like that can help ground your impromptu speech. And the great thing about that is that it gives you a bit of a safety net because you at least know if it's something you care about, a particular issue or a particular concrete angle, you know that you can just keep talking about it. Worse comes to worse, even if you mental blank on worth the risk. You can just talk about that issue that you care about at least for the rest of the time, because I know that is a fear when you go into the impromptu is, what if I run out of things to say?

So a really good way to take away that fear but also to really ground your impromptu is to pick an angle much like you would for your prepared speech. So I think that's a really good approach to take into the impromptu speeches. Even though, of course, like I say this, but you never really get used to them. So they'll still be a little spooky, but you'll at least, I think, be able to hone them over of your years of experience, which I think I'm sure will make for some amazing impromptu speeches in the future.

So having given those general thoughts, we felt that the winning speech today was one that was able to encompass the kinds of, I suppose, tenets of what public speaking really can do, and that you, as young public speakers, are able to do. We felt that this speech gave us a really clear sense of the speaker's voice within an issue that is very broad and touches many people in society, but we still felt that there was a sense that this speech was tied to what the speaker wanted to add to that conversation. We felt there was a genuine passion to talk about the issue. And there was an incredibly kind of compelling portrayal of the very real ways in which we let this sometimes unthinkingly affect us in our day to day. Furthermore, we felt that the speaker used the interview portion of today to really cleverly kind of add elements to this topic that maybe they hadn't had the chance to build upon as much in that 8 minutes.

And where, maybe, the 8 minutes was focused on sort of a normative perspective on the way in which this plays out in the community, we felt that we got some additional thoughts that were really valuable in the interview section about the kinds of reforms or about the kinds of structural steps we can actually take to start addressing this issue, given that it is such a gaping tear that still is unhealed in society, essentially.

And we felt also that this speaker gave us a really interesting and very, again, very personal impromptu speech about how even when we find ourselves in places where our strength might not be recognised as such, necessarily, that it is always nonetheless worth the risk to be true, I suppose, to whatever it is that makes us stick out and whatever it is that makes us different. Because often, those are the things that mean that you are able to contribute something really valuable in maybe a space where there aren't maybe lots of other people like you. And that is actually a good thing. So I would like to offer on behalf of myself and also my fellow adjudication panel my heartfelt congratulations to the 2022 National Champion of the Plain English Speaking Award our representative from South Australia, Jessica Grasser.

JESSICA GRASSER: Thank you so much. it's ironic when you win a public speaking competition, but have no speech prepared at all. But I would really love to thank the entire Legacy group that has supported me from the first heat throughout this. I'd love to thank Judith, my English teacher, and my coach as well. She's absolutely brilliant, and she has been a guiding light throughout this entire thing, and I could not have done this without her.

And my entire school as well have been so supportive. And thank you to everyone, the New South Wales team that have organised this and the adjudicators. Patrick, you're an amazing chairperson and everybody who spoke as well today. There were so many speeches that really touched my heart and I will be taking those with me, most definitely.


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