The University of Sydney hosted 60 high school students as part of the UN Youth Australia’s Evatt Trophy debating finals and conference last week.
The Evatt Trophy is the largest Model United Nations debating competition in the Southern Hemisphere. Operating nationally, and across New Zealand, the 2016 Trophy involved more than 2300 students from years 10, 11 and 12.
The competition finals, held at the University’s Darlington-Camperdown campus from 3–10 December, brought together 60 finalists from high schools in all Australian states and territories, as well as New Zealand.
As the event’s National Partner, the University hosted the week-long finals competition, educational workshops featuring Sydney academics, speaker panels and meetings with diplomats.
Vice-Chancellor and principal Dr Michael Spence said the University of Sydney was extremely proud to be the National Partner of the UN Youth 2016 Evatt Trophy Competition.
"This event is more than just about debating. The Evatt competition teaches and challenges young people about the importance of problem-solving, communication and engagement — all skills that we nurture in our students, and which are vital to foster in our future leaders."
"Congratulations, not only to the finalists, but to everyone involved, including the thousands of talented students who have competed across the country throughout the year, and the many volunteers who gave their time to make the competition a great success."
Workshops included a discussion with the Head of the School of Social and Political Sciences Professor Simon Tormey on Brexit; Dr Anna Boucher, Senior Lecturer and Scholarly Teaching Fellow, talking about the issues around asylum and migration; and a Q&A session with Federal parliamentarian and deputy leader of the opposition Tanya Plibersek.
The 2016 conference was run entirely by volunteers, all under 25 years of age.
Event convenor and current Sydney Bachelor of Arts student Bianca Meumann; and chief of staff, Karen Chau (BCom ’15 BA(Hons) ’16) who is currently enrolled in Sydney’s Juris Doctor law program, headed the team up. They were joined by a number of fellow Sydney students who volunteered as facilitators throughout the week.
"Thank you to the University of Sydney for partnering with us for the 2016 Evatt Trophy," Ms Meumann said.
"Not only did the University support us by providing a number of fantastic venues, but the education sessions with your academics provided these young students with further insight into some of the issues debated throughout the week.
"I know the students not only appreciated the facilities, but also the opportunity to learn more about these areas from University experts."
UN Youth Australia is an entirely youth-run, not-for-profit organisation that provides diverse educational experiences for young people to learn more about the world in which they live and the challenges facing society.
In partnership with the Australian Federal Government, the United Nations Association of Australia, the Australian Youth Affairs Council and other youth-led organisations, UN Youth Australia promotes grassroots engagement with the aims and principles of the United Nations.
Co-auther of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and Sydney alum, Dr Herbert Evatt (BA 1915 MA ’17 LLB ’18 LLD ’24), fought for the oppressed, for political rights and civil liberties, for freedom of thought and action.
He studied for more than a decade, and was awarded four degrees and three University Medals.
Dr Evatt was a scholar, lawyer, High Court Judge and Attorney General.
He was also one of the great innovators of the labour movement, influencing Australian public policy and society.
His achievements and uncompromising stand for just principles in public life will always be remembered.
Dr Evatt was elected President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the only Australian ever to have held the position.
He presided over the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the cornerstone of human rights protection throughout the modern world.