Aboriginal students debate

A student takes part in the debate at Parliament House.

For the fifth year Aboriginal students from across Sydney gathered at NSW Parliament House to discuss and debate the challenges Indigenous people face today.

Students from 16 NSW high schools participated in the Aboriginal Secondary Students Great Debate, which started with Aunty Fay Carroll providing the Acknowledgement of Country.

Acting director-general, NSW Department of Education and Communities, Pam Christie followed with her opening address.

"I'm absolutely delighted to be here and would like to congratulate everyone involved in this fantastic initiative. I particularly want to send my best wishes to all of our nervous debaters. I wish you all well in your arguments and debates today."

She went on to remind students of great debaters throughout history, including Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama.

Topics for the day covered many importantissues including:

  • has the National Apology increased awareness of the impact of past government policies on  Aboriginal people and communities
     
  • do Aboriginal Education Officers in all schools improve engagement and outcomes for Aboriginal students, and if so, how
     
  • are there enough Indigenous leaders for this generation
     
  • how best to promote changes to the stereotypical image of Aboriginal people and culture
     
  • is Sydney the only city to develop acceptance for Aboriginal communities across Australia?

Newtown High School of Performing Arts student Benjamin Dennison said the debate gave him confidence as well as new presentation skills.

"Most people won't get the chance to come to sit in Parliament House, but we get to go in and debate each other on topics that are relevant to our culture and to our race," he said.

Sydney regional director Dr Phil Lambert praised the students for their participation in the forum and gave each a certificate recognising their involvement in the annual event. 

"All of you should be proud of what you have achieved here today," he said.

The day ended with a reception held for the students in the Jubilee Room at Parliament House.

Photo: by Jane Stanley

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