15 September, 2023


Senior Foundation Oratory

Our five senior speakers this year made everyone sit up straight with their evocative and engaging big speeches.   Congratulations to Pranav Sundaram for his first big win!  He bravely tackled the topic of men’s mental health with passion, heart and conviction to achieve thunderous applause.  Close on his coattails was our Captain of Public Speaking, Kulani Somarathna, with her very polished and heartfelt speech on our loneliness epidemic. And a big congratulations to the other three speakers: Trishla Singh, Hamish Fyffe and Kate Atherton for making it such a tough competition for our adjudicators Sharon Beattie, Carrie Dunham and David Morris.  It is times like these we can all be proud of our students who have the courage and confidence to speak up on matters that concern us all.

Katie Lester 
Person-in-Charge of Public Speaking

As mentioned above, Year 11 student Pranav Sundaram was judged to be the best speaker at the Senior Foundation Oratory with his very passionate and brave speech about the impact of toxic masculinity on men’s mental health. Congratulations to Pranav and we thank him for allowing us to share his speech here.

Stuart Walls
Head of Senior School

Men’s Mental Health and Toxic Masculinity:

In history, men are the protectors and providers of families, the hunters that slay the beasts. Being a man means exerting leadership, and authority and embodying stoic behaviour and strength. If men suffer, we don’t cry, it’s water off a duck’s back, because to exhibit emotion and be vulnerable is not very macho, now is it.

People say these are the conventions of masculinity, but in truth, these are oppressions in disguise. Society has pressured and shaped young men to adhere to the norms of masculinity, and any man who doesn’t is subjected to ridicule and rejection. This can cause men to face internal struggles and they can’t find help either because then they’re seen as a weak, inferior beta males, who aren’t self-sufficient.

According to Suicide Prevention Australia, men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women, which can be traced back to emotional suppression. But suicide is not the only path for men struggling with mental health issues, another path is aggression and violence. The traits of asserting power and dominance are something that is embedded within every male’s psychology. Animals do this through aggressive displays and ritualised fighting, and I guess so do we as humans. The testosterone in our bodies drives us to settle everything with our fists.

According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, males are still committing the majority of assaults, at more than four times the rate of females and this has only been increasing. It’s not looking good for us. Domestic violence is also a major problem in Australia, approximately 3.8 million people aged 18 years and over have experienced violence (physical and/or sexual) by an intimate partner or family member since the age of 15, 70% of these victims were female, 30% were male and 75% of the identified perpetrators were men.

Is it a surprise that women experienced more of this violence, not really? A norm of toxic masculinity can lead to the stigmatization of anyone considered “unmanly.” This includes women and the LGBTQ community. This culture of toxic masculinity has been growing rapidly and has been popularized by infamous names such as Andrew Tate, who advertise that the duty of a man is to have a prime physique, an abundance of wealth, and to be surrounded by beautiful women.

But this is not correct and leads many young men to feel rejected, and unfulfilled with the lives they are living. In all honesty, I felt like this as well. But this did trigger self-improvement among men, but for the wrong reasons. Self-improvement is a not bad thing, I think it is great, and I think people should constantly strive to become better. But self-improvement should be for themselves, not to feel more masculine.

All these factors show how the conventions of masculinity can not only affect men but have repercussions on society as a whole. Even after all this, men’s mental health is still not taken seriously. Most people in this room will repost about it on their Instagram story during June, but this is not enough. We need to recreate a healthier definition of what it means to be a man. We need to show that being a man is not being afraid to show who you are, being a man is embracing the differences of others and uplifting those around you, and being a man is being vulnerable. Because vulnerability is not an admission of weakness, but rather a self-awareness that helps men become stronger.

Next time you look in the mirror, smile and accept who you are, because there is no one quite like you. Aspire to be your best self, and if you are feeling low talk to a good mate or family member. Because we’re all in this together.

Pranav Sundaram
Year 11

Outdoor Leadership

This Term, the Outdoor Leadership class has been focusing on human-nature relationships and how people will view nature differently, depending on their culture, upbringing and worldview. The town of Derby, in Tasmania’s North-East, provides an excellent example of this and was the venue for a two-day field trip last week. Throughout history, the area around Derby has seen the comings and goings of Aboriginal clans, tin miners from around the globe, loggers, farmers, and now mountain bikers. Each group perceived and valued the land differently, and each group has left a legacy of their time spent in the Derby area. The focus of the field trip was to experience the area through the eyes of the different groups to better understand the different perceptions and values and to link it to the theory we have been learning in class.

Mark Hassell
Dean of Students

Year 11 Leadership Program

This week a group of Year 11 students conducted a day of teambuilding activities at the Valley Campus for students from St Marys and Bicheno Primary Schools. Arriving at the Valley on Sunday afternoon to set up and rehearse the activities, the primary students then arrived on Monday morning. They were very excited and enthusiastic and were fully engaged in the program that our students had planned for them. It was a great day that provided an authentic leadership experience for our students and a fun day of teamwork and group bonding for the primary students.

Mark Hassell
Dean of Students