PESA Schools Package 2023.pdf


The Award began in Victoria in 1977 as a public speaking competition for senior school students from government and non-government schools and expanded to all states and territories in 1978. Today competitions are conducted in schools at regional and state levels. State winners represent their school and state at a national final which is hosted by each state or territory in rotation. Each state winner and runner-up receives a cash prize provided by the Australia-Britain Society Foundation. The winner also receives travel and accommodation expenses to enable them to compete in the national final. The national final winner receives sponsorship from the Big Brother Movement to enable them to compete as the Australian representative in the international Plain English-Speaking competition conducted in, UK, organized by the English Speaking Union.

The Plain English Speaking Award is a public speaking competition open to senior secondary school students. It was created to encourage the best use of the English language in Australian schools. Taking part has been recognized by thousands of young people as a valuable experience and, for the participants and winners, a worthy mention in their resume.

The Plain English Speaking Award recognizes the key role of the spoken English Language as a link among Australians and as a medium for international communication and understanding. The primary aim of the Award is to encourage and maintain the best use of clear and effective English.

Two students (one female and one male) from either year 11 or 12 may enter from each school. In the case of single gender schools, two students may enter. Students must be between 15 and 18 years on 1st September. The students must be Australian citizens. The selected students will represent their school in the state semi-final and, if successful, go on to the final conducted in Perth, WA. The winner of the state final will represent Western Australia in the national final.

At all levels students will be expected to give two speeches – a prepared talk of 8 minutes and an impromptu talk of 3 minutes. At the state and national final there will be a brief interview. Students choose their own topic for the prepared talk, and the adjudicator will provide the subject for the impromptu talk. The same talk is to be delivered at all stages of the competition. The impromptu talk cannot be read from notes.

Adjudication will be based on a) the content of the talk; b) the structure and organization; c) the achievement of purpose; and d) the level of interest and student’s delivery, including clarity, fluency, tone, assurance, enthusiasm and the use of appropriate language.

Current information is shown here:


The Plain English Speaking Award will be held on Saturday 20 July at the All Saints Floreat Uniting Church Hall, Berkeley Crescent, Floreat. Contestants are requested to arrive by 9:30am with the Opening Address to be at 10:00am.


The WA Final was held on Saturday 15 July at the All Saints Floreat Uniting Church Hall, Berkeley Crescent, Floreat, involving five competitors chosen from 14 semi-finalists. The winning student was Sophia Marra from Santa Maria College, who received the PESA shield on behalf of the College and a personal prize of $200.00 for a speech entitled “The Relevance of Monarchies in Contemporary Society” . The second place went to Maggie Mee from John Curtin College of the Arts with a prize of $100.00 for a speech entitled “Literary and Media Analysis”. Third prize of $50.00 went to Madeleine Penglis from Iona Presentation College for a speeck entitled “Happiness”.

Acting President Kevan Barrett presenting the PESA Shield to Santa Maria College Deputy Principal Simone Sawiris and 2023 Winner Sophia Marra before a Senior School assembly.

Presentation of the PESA Shield at the 2023 Final to winner Sophia Marra by Richard Douglas KC and Acting President Kevan Barrett.

The Australia wide final was conducted via Zoom on Monday 09 August with Sophia Marra representing Western Australia.


The WA representative was selected to be Subi Thomas whose speech “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” was presented to local Australia-Britain Society members at the Victoria League, Shenton Park, on Saturday 11 June. He then gave his speech to the National competition from Hale school via Zoom on Friday 2nd September.

“The winner was Jessica Grasser from University Senior College in South Australia.

The general feedback to all students was to speak about topics that they are truly interested in and topics in which they are the best person to be giving that speech. For example the speech should indicate why they are the best person to be giving that speech, and why it is the winning speech, but only when delivered by them.

They also suggested that students include a general call to action within the speech.

The lead adjudicator stated that Jessica’s speech resonated the most with the judges, and that they truly believed that she was the person who should be giving that speech.

It was truly a great competition and both Rebekah and I were very impressed by the calibre of speeches.”

Olivia Fuderer, WA coordinator



After 42 years the annual PESA event remained a significant part of the Australia-Britain Society’s year and 2019 was no exception. Once again, the Australia-Britain Society acknowledges the generosity of the Victoria League for their valued donation of hospitality for the semi-finals and final of this competition.

The National Final was held in Brisbane on 10 to 12 August 2019. The Winner was Jackson Lake of Marymount College, Brisbane, who spoke on “The Ghost of Frankenstein”. The Runner-up was Himaja Dave of Crestwood High School, New South Wales.

L-R An Dang, Holly Wallman Craddock, Zachary Matthews, Caitlyn Crick, Jackson Lake, Kim Richards, Himaja Dave and Brenton Campbell

The Australia – Britain Society WA Branch Inc. held a Presentation Morning Tea at the Royal Perth Golf Club on Saturday 27 July 2019. WA Winner for 2019, Zachary Matthews, received the PESA Shield from the morning’s speaker, Mr Enzo Sirna AM, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, The National Trust, on behalf of Guildford Grammar School.

The 2019 WA PESA Final was held at the Victoria League, Shenton Park, on Saturday 15 June between:

Peter Hudson – CBC Fremantle, Zachary Matthews – Guildford Grammar School, Mosaia McDonald – Corpus Christi College Bateman, Anna Smith – Esperance Senior High School
The Semi-Final was held at the Victoria League, Shenton Park, on Saturday 11 May 2019. Four Students gave their presentations during a morning session and another four in an afternoon session.


The 2018 WA PESA Final was held at the Victoria League, Shenton Park, on Saturday 21 July between Jemima Reid – Santa Maria College, Zachary Matthews – Guildford Grammar School, Luke Button – Eastern Hills Senior High School, Cooper Hagan – CBC Fremantle

The 2018 WA Winner was declared to be Jemima Reid. Jemima went on to achieve Second Place in the National final held in Darwin on 12 August 2018 against six other State winners.

The national winner was Justin Lai of Sydney Boys High School whose prize was a trip to UK to compete in the International final.

The last event of PESA 2018 in WA was the occasion of the Presentation Morning Tea, held at Royal Perth Golf Club on Saturday 4th August. 50 people attended this event along with ABS members, PESA participants and their guests including teachers, friends and family members.

At this event, MC Kevan Barrett read out a letter of goodwill from Sue Wittenoom who had been WA winner in 1979, then a student at John XX111 College. Guest speaker was The Very Reverend Dr John Shepherd, former Dean of Perth, who gave an inspiring speech on the values of public speaking. After Jemima gave her winning speech Dr Shepherd presented her with the WA perpetual shield to be held at Jemima’s school, Santa Maria College, until the 2019 competition.


Mr Leon Cohen 1978 PESA Award Winner

Mr Leon Cohen, the first WA Plain English Speaking Award winner (in 1978) visited the 2017 WA competitors during their Semi-Finals.

The WA State Winner was Esther Nixon of Ursula Frayne Catholic College.