Student Voices

Ever wanted to know what stirs up our young people?

Or needed a rebuttal for the grumps who write off Gen Z as social-media-addicted whingers?

Read on.

Each year, Year 12 English students stand before their peers to advocate for change. They form contentions in response to topics that they are passionate about and showcase the critical thinking that their Woodleigh journey has helped them refine.

It is always difficult assessing these persuasive speeches. So many are excellent. A number are exceptional. These are the thoughts from those brilliant minds.

Language and Literature Learning Area Leader

L - R: Milan Castan, Pippin Seagren Hughes, Izzy Jones, Lou Lou Burton, Ruby Duncan, Alex Mathews, Jacomo Dwyer-Morris

Lou Lou Burton:

‘The ABC states that "the UN has criticised Australia's detention centres as inhumane". Our nation’s policies are evidence of systemic racism and discrimination. Australia’s government is attempting to perpetuate the infamous ‘white’ Australia policy, also known as the Immigration Restriction Act. From 1901 to 1950, Australia prevented all non-European refugees from entering the country, aiming to recreate Australia as a racially insulated, white society. Many Aussies are proud of how ‘multi-cultural’ and ‘diverse’ Australia is, yet innocent people are still being denied entry simply on the basis of our government’s racist and discriminatory policies. The logistics and regulations around refugees seeking asylum within Australia are impossible.’

Milan Castan:

‘It took 22 minutes for any medical help to arrive, and by that time, Nathan had collapsed on the cold, hard prison floor. Nathan had died. He had died under the protection and guardianship of the Australian government. Behind this case, and 512 other First Nations deaths in custody, lies an explanation that runs all the way back to colonisation. And that is that Australia is built on deep-rooted systemic racism that is embedded into our justice system and culture, and the only way to prevent the over-incarceration and deaths in custody of First Nations people, is if that system gets redesigned.’

Ruby Duncan:

‘I understand that as a generation we have grown up with the tradition of Australia Day and we deserve to celebrate our country. But we don’t have to cancel these celebrations, just reschedule them. On 2 March 1996, Australia became a sovereign, an independent commonwealth; a self-governing nation. A day that holds value and recognition to Australian history. A day that does not represent generational trauma or genocide. A day just out of summer when it’s still barbie-weather and a perfect date to celebrate this country. Or any other day of the 365 days in a year for that matter, except for January 26.’

Jacomo Dwyer-Morris:

‘As men we need to accept the responsibility that comes with our societal privilege. We need to teach and model respectful behaviours; celebrate loving and emotionally honest men; stand up against sexist jokes, attitudes and behaviours. Simply not joining in is no longer enough.’

Izzy Jones:

‘Words only make sense in context, and unfortunately, the world we live in provides a context of gender inequality. When we see this context change, and the world a more fair, forgiving and accepting place for women, then maybe the core meaning of words like bitch can change too.’

Alex Mathews:

‘The privileges we now take as normal were a result of the hard work and success of everyday people banding together for systematic change. In short, the government is supposed to be serving us and our communities not the other way round. Although these various anti-peaceful protest bills are intimidating and understandably disheartening, there is still so much hope that they will not go through. Especially if we join together. Can you fight it with me? Will you fight?’

Pippin Seagren Hughes:

‘Whilst Australia’s laws may say that abortions are legal, there is a vast difference between legal and accessible. Something being legal is useless if you can’t access it. Abortion is legal in all Australian states. However, they are only easily accessible in 2 out of our 8 states.’