Challenging debate surprises

A GROUP of young Gippsland students were challenged to debate on some international topics recently, surprising audiences and themselves, as they did so with ease.

Seven Gippsland school teams, consisting of 14 senior students from Gippsland Gramar and St Pauls Anglican, participated in United Nations Youth Australia’s Thant – Evatt Trophy Competition, the Victorian round of the national competition.

Despite having hardly any time to prepare, the students eased into confident arguments on matters including small arm trades and peace-keeping reforms.

According to a member of the organising committee, Lainey Essex, the quality of the students’ arguments was “quite good”.

“The topics were definitely not easy, but the students did really well to get by and get their issues out,” Ms Essex said.

“The kids really liked it and considering how challenging the topics were, some of the kids said once they got into it, it was a lot of fun.”

Held in Gippsland for the first time, at Latrobe City Council headquarters, Ms Essex said the organisation has decided to “focus on regional engagement” this year.

“Previously a lot of students from regional areas would come all the way to Melbourne for the competition, so we thought we could organise one in Gippsland,” she said.

Ms Essex added the popularity of the annual competition had encouraged organisers to continue hosting such events in regional towns.

Renowned for “not just giving speeches”, but “asking difficult questions”, students represented different countries, in a United Nations Security Council setting.

With two judges from UN Youth Australia judging the students on the quality of their arguments, results of the preliminary round are expected to be released later this month.

Ms Essex said with preliminary competitions held across Victoria, including Gippsland, she hinted at the possibility of one team from the Gippsland round to be selected for the semi-finals.

The national Evatt competition will consist of students representing one of the 15 member states of the UN Security Council, as they debate on resolutions conducted like the real UN Security Council.