Premier's Debating Challenge
The state final of the Premier's Debating Challenge for Year 11 saw teams from Northern Beaches Secondary College, Manly Campus and Sydney Girls High School face off recently.
Having survived inter-zone and regional finals, the two teams were the last standing from an initial pool of 62 teams from public schools in the Sydney, Northern Sydney, South Western and Western Sydney regions.
The winners were the Sydney Girls High School team of Nadhirah Daud, Ainsley Halbmeyer, Ruby Lew and Emily Rice.
The Sydney Girls High team took the negative side on the final debating topic: 'That voting should be voluntary'.
The opposing team from Northern Beaches Secondary College, Manly Campus of Fred Drake, Tess Gordon, Henry Lin and Sarah Jackson showed impressive debating skills as well.
Sydney Girls High team member Ainsley Halbmeyer was also awarded the first E.G. Whitlam trophy for best speaker, presented by the Antony Whitlam, son of former prime minister Gough Whitlam.
Topics covered on the road to the finals included: 'That we should help the elderly die with dignity' and 'That the right to remain silent during police questioning should be removed'.
The final was held in the University of Western Sydney's School of Law - a venue that provides students the opportunity to develop skills in advocacy in real courtroom settings.
For example 'mooting' (a hypothetical case argued among law students) is part of the UWS law school curriculum.
"We have produced International Champion Mooters (and) it is our hope that participants in the 2012 Premier's Debating Challenge may one day follow in their footsteps," said Professor Michael Adams from the School of Law, UWS.
"Additionally, challenges such as this encourage students to develop the necessary skills to engage in rigorous exchange of ideas on challenging contemporary issues."
Photo: The Sydney Girls HS Year 11 debating team (left to right): Nadhirah Daud, Ainsley Halbmeyer, Ruby Lew, Emily Rice. At rear: The Hon Antony Whitlam QC and Professor Michael Adams, School of Law, UWS (sponsors of the debating challenge).