The Plain English Speaking Award (PESA) in Victoria is a public speaking program hosted by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) and supported by both the Australia-Britain Society (Victoria) and the English Speaking Union (Victorian Branch). The award is aimed at secondary students and encourages the use of clear and effective spoken English.

In 2018, PESA celebrated its 40th Anniversary.

The award provides an excellent opportunity for students to build self-confidence and extend their skills in oral communication, speech writing and research.

Competitors in the Victorian State Final deliver a prepared speech of eight minutes on a subject of the student’s choice and an impromptu speech of three minutes duration on a subject chosen by the VCAA.

The ESU Victorian Branch sponsors book prizes for the Victorian Finalists in the Plain English Speaking Award.

We also provide prizes for Victorian students from country and regional schools who have been commended for their performances in regional heats of the PESA competition. This support aims to encourage and expand participation by regional and country students in public speaking.

The PESA competition operates in all Australian States. Winners of each State level final compete at a National final, with the national winner representing Australia at the International Public Speaking Competition, convened by the ESU of the Commonwealth in London.

Fegus Dale, the 2017 PESA Victorian winner

The 2017 International Public Speaking Competition, administered and sponsored by ESU in London, hosted 45 participants from 42 countries in a week of cultural exchange and public speaking.  All participants were national winners of public speaking competitions run by international ESUs/partner organisations in their own country. Finalists from Australia, Canada, China, England and Wales, Hong Kong, Mexico and Sri Lanka battled for the prestigious winner’s trophy.

Finalists wrote and delivered speeches on the theme ‘Peace is not an absence of war’.

Luke Macaronas, of St Kevin’s College, the Victorian and Australian Plain English Speaking winner in 2016, spoke about the terrors of drone attacks and the state of modern warfare. His speech was adjudged the international competition winner. Our congratulations go to Luke for a world-beating performance.

In 2017, Fergus Dale of Scotch College, a student boarder whose home is near Yackandandah, was adjudged the PESA Victorian winner.

Fergus's prepared speech re-asserted the identity of regional Australia. His talk affirmed country Australians’ strong sense of community and their intimate connection with the land. His impromptu speech called for leadership and proactive planning by politicians to benefit people in their communities.

As the Victorian PESA winner, Fergus Dale received a trophy presented by the Australia-Britain Society and a $300 book voucher presented by the ESU towards educational studies.

Fergus' win is particularly apt in a year in which ESU provided sponsorship awards to support and encourage regional student participation in public speaking.