Sydney Girls see victory in Great Hall debate

The ability to think fast and on their feet proved a successful formula for the Sydney Girls’ High School debating team.

Image: Winning debaters Neva Mikulic, Anna Kremer, Josephine Perry, Ariane Varnava and Rina Wong pose with the Hume Barbour trophy

Winning the 2022 Premier’s Debating Challenge the girls were victorious over Rose Bay Secondary College, arguing the topic of whether or not we should stop having a Prime Minister.

“When the affirmative team took the debate in the direction of having a republic, we had to change tack totally,” said Sydney Girls’ Neva Mikulic, third speaker for the negative.

“Our first and second speaker threw out their prepared arguments and we questioned if this was symbolic or would provide tangible, better outcomes for Australia, and what such an upheaval actually meant.”

For Neva, such quick thinking is part of debating’s appeal, along with the shared experience of trusting your team and intellectual growth.

“In debating, you’re forced to think about the world in ways you wouldn’t normally in your day to day life.

“It teaches you about the assumptions you have about the world, and you have to adopt views that you may not have taken in your own life,” said Neva.

Neva also credits the trust in her team members Ariane Varnava, Anna Kremer, Josephine Perry and Rina Wang for the success.

“It’s a true team event. There’s something very communal in the speed of preparing a response and the trust we place in each other to argue successfully.”

The 2022 Premier’s Debating Challenge for Years 11 and 12 was held at The Great Hall, University of Sydney – the first time the competition has been held face-to-face since 2019.

The winning team each year claims the Hume Barbour trophy, named for Miss Hume-Barbour, a descendant of Hamilton Hume the explorer, after whom the Hume Highway is named. Her generous donation in 1930 has allowed the competition to flourish since then.

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