ACT Debating Union Inc.
LPO Box 8110
ANU, ACT 2601
About the ACT Debating Union
The ACT Debating Union is a not-for-profit organisation that organises school debating competitions in Canberra and the surrounding regions. The ACTDU is also responsible for the entry of a representative team into the annual National Schools Debating Championships. The ACT State team has been the 3rd most successful State or Territory at National Schools, having won 5 times, and finished runner up 10 times.ACTDU runs competitions in both the Australian style (two teams of three) and in the British Parliamentary style (two teams of two on each side).
The Ford, Murray and Douse competitions are our Junior (years 6-8), Intermediate (years 9 & 10) and Senior (years 11 & 12) Australian-style competitions. These are conducted in the evenings over a number of months, starting March each year. Schools are generally sent nomination forms in late February and the competitions will typically conclude with a grand final in the middle of third term. Exact dates for this year are available in our calendar.
The Crime Prevention competitions are sponsored by the Australian Federal Police. ACTDU run Junior (years 6-9) and Senior (years 10-12) Crime Prevention competitions, with nominations usually being called for around June. These competitions are also are conducted in the evenings but over a shorter period than the Ford, Murray and Douse competitions. Again, exact dates are listed on the calendar. Senior Crime Prevention is conducted in British Parliamentary style.
Some ACTDU History..."The ACTDU started in 1961 when some public servants set up a debating society to organise competitions between government departments in Canberra. In its early days it was extremely active, with sixty or more teams from departments, social clubs, churches and other organisations taking part in three separate grades.
ACT schools took part in the statewide NSW knockout school debating competition (organised by the NSW Department of Education) when it begand in the early 1970s, and the ACTDU helped with the organisation of those debates in the ACT. In 1973, the ACTDU began its own school competition, the Murray Trophy, for teams in Year 11 and below. This filled a gap, because the best Year 12 debators were taking part in the NSW competition. The trophy was named in honour of Brian Murray, who had been instrumental in establishing the competition.
In 1978, in response to suggestions from schools, we began the Douse Trophy for Year 11 and 12. For a year this ran in competition with the NSW statewide knockout, but ACT schools stopped taking part in the NSW competition the following year. At about the same time, the Murray competition was lowered to Year 10 and below following the introduction of ACT senior colleges, which made the distinction between Years 11 and 12 much less important than before.
The Douse Trophy is named in recognition of the man who, more than anyone else, got schools debating going in the ACT. Mike Douse came to Canberra in 1970, served as president of the ACTDU for several years until he moved overseas in 1977, and by a mixture of enormous energy and a magnetic personality, laid the foundations of ACT School Debating that was both broadly based and of a very high standard. Under his coaching, the ACT team became one of the top three national schools debating teams with NSW and Queensland, a remarkable achievement for a city with just twenty-four teams in its competitions in 1974!
The Ford Trophy grew out of the Murray Trophy, because the Murray was becoming both impossibly large and also very diverse with students from Year 7 to Year 10 in one competition. In keeping with the practice of naming trophies after successive ACTDU Presidents, this trophy is named after Margaret Ford, President in 1977, who laid the groundwork for the junior school trophy.
Today the ACT has proportionally more school debaters than any other city in the world. In absolute numbers the ACT has as many teams in its competitions than in the entire English national competition!"
Under President Harry Greenwell, the ACTDU reformed much of the committee and organisational structure that had existed previously, resulting in the creation of Duty Officers in 2001, and the removal of the position of central administrator. Years later, many more reforms would be made by Presidents Marija Taflaga and Shelley Verma, to increase the professional nature of the ACTDU, and improve quality, fairness and feedback mechanisms. Feedback forms became essential at rounds, adjudicator guidelines and training were streamlined, and a coaching program was developed to help disadvantaged schools.
In 2009, ACTDU President Shelley Verma opened the Ford and JCP competitions up to primary school students as well, showing with work from volunteers, debating in the ACT will continue to grow. Much to many people.s surprise, many primary school teams were immediately successful, with one team making the Grand Final of Ford in 2010. From 2008 the ACTDU also introduced other perpetual awards recognising past contributors. Some were introduced to honour people for their many contributions to the ACTDU, and others were designed to recognise great debating talent from contributors. The Greenwell Prize & Driscoll Medal were introduced in the Ford Competition, honouring past President Harry Greenwell for his contributions, and past ACTDU debater and state team coach Rose Driscoll for her debating excellence. In the Murray Competition the best speaker overall, and the best speaker in the GF would receive the Farrell Perpetual Trophy & the Moss Medal. These awards are to honour Jeremy Farrell for his years of hard work, including the development and running of the ACT Coaching Programs for many years, and Madeleine Moss for her debating talent, and numerous contributions, including as state team coach. Lastly, ACTDU created the Barnsley Shield & Wood Medal in the ANU Douse Competition for the same purpose, to honour 2 ACT coaches and contributors Paul Barnsley and Nick Wood. Both coached the ACT to the National Championship, and were extremely talented debaters, who left a lasting impact on debating in the ACT.
In 2010 three more past contributors were honoured. Firstly the Leung Best & Fairest Award was introduced, to recognise the best primary school team that year. It was named after Matt Leung, whose hard work, integrity and contributions will not soon be forgotten. In the crime prevention competitions, we renamed the two best speaker awards. The Robertson Cup, named after James Robertson, to pay tribute to one of our greatest and most memorable debaters, and the Cummins Chalice, to honour past state team coach and long time contributor Kath Cummins.
History of the ACT Team
The ACT Debating Union is very proud to honour our past state team representatives, who have represented the ACT going back to the early 70's. Unfortunately our information is not as complete as we would like, and so if anyone can help us with corrections, they should feel free to e-mail the ACTDU President.
The ACT has been the 3rd most successful state at the Nationals Championships, behind only Queensland & NSW.
ACTDU is publishing its previous ACT team members, coaches and results online and details of these achievements will continue to be be updated over time.
This document last modified at 5:39:21pm, 30 July 2011.
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