Past Regional Conventions in 2012

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St Catherine's School

Contact Karyn Murray: 9822 1285 17 Heyington Place, Toorak 3127 KMurray@stcatherines.net.au
Topic: 'That the right to freedom of speech should be enshrined in Australia's Constitution'
The Regional State Schools’ Convention at St Catherine’s College, held on 29th March 2012, was always going to be interesting, perhaps even controversial, once the topic and guest speakers were announced.

A federal Member of Parliament, a lawyer specialising in privacy legislation, the President of Liberty Victoria and two journalists, one an Associate Professor and the other a controversial columnist with the Herald Sun, spoke on the notion that “the right to freedom of speech should be enshrined in our constitution.”

The day was very well organised and well attended. Over one hundred Year 10-12 students visited from other schools, and the entire Year 10 class of 60 at St Catherine’s played hosts. Students from the different schools were seated at mixed tables, meaning that they had to get to know new people and forge working relationships with them. The guest speakers all spoke eloquently, which rubbed off on the students as when it was their turn to speak, their arguments for or against the topic were articulate and reasoned. The background reading material was detailed and relevant to the topic, and it was pleasing to see how much preparation the students had put in - there were definitely a few budding politicians in the room that day! The notion that the right to freedom of speech should be enshrined in the constitution was eventually defeated, and I’m sure a lot of people in the room that day learned a lot about the Australian constitution and how it works – I know I did.

Regional conventions such as this one are held throughout the year and are vital lead-ins to the State Convention which is held in October at the Parliament of Victoria. That convention then feeds in to the National Convention in Canberra in March. The convention program provides an important forum in which students can speak out and be heard in a formal context, and it encourages them to seriously consider constitutional issues which affect them personally and politically.

Clonard College

225 Church Street, Geelong West 3218 Amanda Vines / Megan Evans: 5278 2155 amanda.vines@clonard.catholic.edu.au , megan.evans@clonard.catholic.edu.au

Topic: 'Recognition of Indigenous Australians in the Australian Constitution'

The Convention was held in the Geelong City Council Chambers on 23rd May 2012. Guest Speaker, Scott Darlow, provided a very entertaining narrative of Australian history from an indigenous perspective. Scott key messages about empathy and acknowledgement were supported through story and song.

Delegates were asked identify 3 important Indigenous Australians who weren't famous for art, sport, music, television or film. The delegates struggle to come up with names, according to Scott, was an indication of the invisibility of Indigenous Australians. He said that he had asked this same question to thousands of students around Australia and names like the mediator Bennelong, Neville Bonner, the first Indigenous Senator, Sir Doug Nicholls, State Governor (and VFL footballer), Noel Pearson, lawyer and activist and David Unaipon, inventor and currently on our $50 note, don't come readily to mind.

In raising awareness about reconciliation he pointed out that even small things can make a difference. Scott is involved with the World Visions Linking Hands Program Delegates were charged with the responsibility of looking at the way in which Indigenous Australians were represented in the Australian Constitution. Through group discussion, delegates were able to write alternative words for the Constitution to include Indigenous Australians.

Before the event, the students completed some interesting background reading which others may like to also read. During the event the students addressed some provoking questions and ideas in the first and second panel sessions. The Koorie Heritage Trust has some very useful resources to follow up such an event.

Hoppers Crossing Secondary School

2 Fraser Street, Hoppers Crossing 3029 Adrian Cameron: 9749 3611 Cameron.adrian.c@edumail.vic.gov.au

Topic: 'Are human rights of young people adequately protected on a national and international level?'

Around 70 delegates repesenting Hoppers Crossing SC, Werribee SC, Suzanne Cory High School, Westboure Grammar, Tarneit College and Galvin Park SC gathered to discuss human rights, particularly for younp people on 26th June 2012. Mayor of Wyndam, Cr Kim McAliney, opened the event and Hugo Lamb from the Oaktree Foundation provided the kenote address.

The delegates were organised into table groups with the aim to explore the issues and propose solutions. These groups were 'bullying and harassment', 'welfare protection', 'child soldiers', 'assylum seekers', 'child health and develoment', 'Indigenous health and education', 'child labour', 'justice - youth and policing', and 'youth leadership and voice'. Group leaders gave a preliminary speech providing background on each theme which set the scene for the discussions. Groups were required to report their findings and any proposals at feedback Legislative Assembly session. Congratulations to teachers Sarah, Amy and Adrian and to Coral and her student team for such a great day.

Mooroolbark College

186 Manchester Road, Mooroolbark 3138 Ann Stratford / Robyn Cooper: 9727 8100 Stratford.ann.a@edumail.vic.gov.au , Cooper.robyn.i@edumail.vic.gov.au

Topic: 'Australia's relationship with Asia and the Pacific in response to Australia's refugee policies'

This regional convention was held on the 20th July 2012. A dozen Year 11 students from Yarra Hills Secondary College attended a Constitutional Convention at Mooroolbark College last week to debate the issues of Australia's role in SE Asia and our responses to the issue of refugees as "boat people". The convention debate was adjudicated by local MP Christine Fyffe and students heard from several speakers representing humanitarian and community groups.

Our Lady of Mercy, Heidelberg

Ms Anna Rosa aderosa@olmcheidelberg.catholic.edu.au

Topic: 'Reconciliation: Where to from here?'

Around 100 students from five schools, including Our Lady of Mercy, attended the Convention on Thursday 26th July, 2012. Dr Mark McMillan from The University of Melbourne provided a comprehensive keynote address followed by a question and answer session. Student discussion groups dliberated then on the question.

Canterbury Girls Secondary College

16 Mangarra Road, Canterbury 3126
Helene Hiotis: 9830 5099 hhi@cgsc.vic.edu.au , Hiotis.helene.e@edumail.vic.gov.au

Topic: 'Should the government have greater control of internet use in order to prevent bullying?'

The convention was held on the 27th July 2012, the program for has further details on the discussions. The keynote speaker was Jeremy Blackman a Senior Cybersafety Specialist from The Alannah and Madeline Foundation.

Lalor Secondary College

Cnr David Street & Dalton Road, Lalor 3075
Peter Leos: 9465 2066 Leos.peter.p@edumail.vic.gov.au

Topic: 'Should the Australian Constitution be changed to acknowledge the prior occupation of this land by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders?'

The convention was held on the 27th July 2012.

Elwood College

101 Glenhuntly Road, Elwood, VIC 3184
Manny Kingsley: kingsley.manny.m@edumail.vic.gov.au

We had positive reports from the Elwood College Regional Convention held on the 14th of September. One teacher said the following:
  • "The teachers and the students were all forced to rethink their ideas about Elections and Democracy and how easy it is to under appreciate the significance and the efforts needed to make a truly open society possible."