Foundation Oratory Speech
In the recent Foundation Oratory event in the Senior School, Year 11 student Trishla Singh delivered an impassioned speech about her thoughts on the upcoming referendum on “The Voice to Parliament”. Whilst the College does not promote political bias of any persuasion, we thank Trishla for providing permission to share her speech here and celebrate the quality of her performance in relation to this important social issue.
Head of Senior School
“Democracy should be the chorus of voices, each note vital, each harmony essential, in the symphony of a just and free society.”
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, esteemed judges, teachers, and my fellow students.
Today, I feel privileged and honoured to be standing here before you to talk on a subject that is very crucial to our nation’s past, present and future – our democracy and the upcoming referendum.
Let’s start with democracy. What is democracy? It’s not just a form of government, it’s a way of life, by definition and by its meaning it’s the commitment to freedom and equality of our people, it’s the institutionalisation of our freedom which has constitution as its foundation. But does it stand true on the real grounds? In the real world, the implementation of democracy is much more than its definition.
For example, it can be the elections held every few years, and the provided choice between multiple political parties, equal choice between leaders in micro-organisations like our school, the equality of voters and the absence of tyranny, or the absence of fascism. The origin of democracy in Australia traces back to 1850 when Australia existed as six different colonies. We surely have come a long way since the 1850s, but have we achieved a true democracy. Do we have voice for everyone in our community, or is our society segmentally privileged?
It was only 56 years ago that the indigenous people were recognised as citizens of Australia. The 1967 referendum has become a pivotal point in Australian history. Before 1967, the aboriginals were not counted in the national census and were not considered a part of the Australian population. Aborigines before the 1960s were considered under the infamous metaphoric ‘flora and fauna’ act. The presence of any such act in either federal or state law has been denied, isn’t it true that the indigenous population was treated as nothing more than animals?
It’s been 56 years and a lot has changed. The discrimination seems to have subsided, but what about the systematic marginalisation that the aboriginal people still face today? This systematic discrimination shows up in illiteracy rates and imprisonment percentages. When we hear of prejudice and discrimination against black people in countries like the US, we all sympathise and say black lives matter. But what about the discrimination, racism and racial inequality faced by our people in their own motherland? Doesn’t aboriginal life matter as well? Aboriginal lives do matter. But equality on its own is not a simple solution for this crisis of more than a century. The solution is equity too. The belief that every human is equal paired with support for marginalised communities can play a major role in the rectification of our democracy.
It is true that a complete democracy can never be achieved in practice. An absolute democracy is a myth, a utopian idea that may only exist in a hypothetical parallel universe. When living in a society there are always going to be differences, conflicts and sometimes even war. However, what we can do is make our society, our nation, this world, a more liveable place for everyone.
Part of the role of the upcoming referendum is correcting the unjust treatment that the First Peoples have been suffering for generations. The referendum that will be held on 14 October is our chance to recognise the First Nations people of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. This body will be the first small step towards the equity that the indigenous people need. Every generation comes bearing change. And this will be the change for the good of our country, and for the good of its people.
In closing, I would like to say that the voice will be the first score in the symphony of a fair and just society, where each tone is vital and every harmony essential.
Language Plus class en cuisine
LanguagesPlus is a new course offering at Scotch Oakburn College developed and designed to support students in Year 10 who are passionate about their language studies. This course is open to all Year 10 language students who are studying either Chinese, French or Japanese. LanguagesPlus utilises an integrated approach to learning with language skills and intercultural and intracultural understanding embedded in the curriculum.
Last week, LanguagePLus students had their first cooking lesson. French cuisine was on the menu and the students followed an easy but succulent recipe for chocolate fondant.
It was fun to share this important aspect of French culture. Next term, students will cook Japanese and Chinese food.
The three teachers of the class, Jenny Banbury, Leigh Cordell and me, have been very impressed by the dedication and the hard work of students who dearly value languages.
Peace Festival Gathering
This fortnight’s Round Square session was a very special one with the College participating in the annual Tamar Valley Peace Festival. This is the seventh year that Scotch Oakburn has supported this initiative of the Tamar Valley Peace Trust by holding a Peace Gathering.
This year the College was lucky enough to have John Kamara, Tasmania’s Australian of the Year (2023), come and speak to the students. John Kamara escaped war-torn Sierra Leone 19 years ago and started a new life in Tasmania in 2004. He now does all he can to assist migrants, refugees and people from culturally diverse communities.
John shared with our students his own experiences and work in child protection and shared his understanding of the challenges new arrivals and marginalised groups face in Tasmania.
Year 11 student, Kulani Somarathna, also shared her perspective by sharing her thoughts on ‘Pathways to Peace’, which is the theme of this year’s Peace Festival. Below is the conclusion of Kulani’s speech which highlights beautifully what we all can do for Peace:
“…At the end of the school day, if there’s one thing we all agree on, it’s that we’re grateful for our friends. The people who make us strong are those whose shoulders we cry on. It is through the connections we form and the friendships we make that we can strive for peace. And to connect with each other, we must be open-minded to share our differences and accept them. I have always believed, with all my heart that, “The beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people.” So it’s not to be avoided;… what we wear, how we look, how many languages we speak or how different we are. The book will wear, and the comfort song might become repetitive. The finger painting will fade, and the medal will rust… In the difficulties and differences we all have in life, “The best thing to hold onto… is each other.”
Director of Round Square