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Politics and the Power of Plain Speaking


Event Status

Fast fashion, video games, feminism, equality – these are just some of the subjects Victorian teens tackled at the finals of this year’s VCAA Plain English Speaking Award (PESA). But why are public speaking skills worth honing? What goes into a killer speech? And what makes social justice the topic of choice for so many teens who have something to say? 

At this online event, we’ll hear from An Dang, the 2019 PESA state winner, and the 2020 winner, Tierney Khan. They’ll each present their powerful, prize-winning speeches (An’s on Auslan; Tierney’s on feminism) and then chat with Oscar Pearce, two-time PESA finalist.

Both Tierney and An tackle questions of privilege and power in their speeches, engaging their audience in a rousing call to action. Why is it important for young people to speak up on these kinds of issues? How do you find your voice and develop a signature speaking style that’s all your own? And how do you make people sit up and pay attention?

This event is open to everyone, particularly teens in years 9–12, and educators. It‘s supported by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority.


Download an information sheet – with tips on public speaking, and some notes on why it’s good for you – here. For more information about the Plain English Speaking Award, visit the VCAA website, where you can also listen to recordings of previous state finalists.


Oscar Pearce

Oscar is currently completing Year 12 at Albert Park College, where he is a senior debater and School Captain. Last year, he received the Premier’s VCE Award for Year 12 History Revolutions in which he achieved a perfect score. An enthusiastic public speaker, Oscar has been a State Finalist and Ru... Read more

An Dang

An Dang is a young actor, contortionist and student with a desire to educate and provide a platform for those without a voice to be heard. An won the 2019 VCAA Plain English Speaking Award State Championship and continues to seek opportunities where she can learn and grow, working towards creating a... Read more

Tierney Khan

Tierney Khan has always been passionate about using words to express her opinions and to stand up for what she believes in. In 2020 she became the VCAA Plain English Speaking Award Victorian State Champion with a speech titled ‘Not another speech about feminism’, and has since utilised those ski... Read more

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