ACU Debating Challenge Cup

Debates, Essays, Elocution, Readings, Lectures, and Recitations formed an integral part of the South Street Young Men’s General Debating Society when it was first established on 10 July 1879. The Society met every Friday night to indulge their passion for debating literary and musical items and these quickly became a central focus for South Street’s first Eisteddfod, which took place in 1891. Fred Barrow won the first debate, ‘The Best Means of Coping with the Liquor Traffic. Through the 1920’s and 30’s topics tended to feature the political and social issues of the day.

Given the popularity of debating and impromptu speeches – with several of our future Prime Ministers including Alfred Deakin and James Scullin, the Society’s most vibrant supporters – it was surprising to see debating deleted from the 1940 Competitions. It made a triumphant return in 1977.

In later years debating continued to grow and was further strengthened with the introduction of a Primary School Section in 2002. The Australian Catholic University commenced its association with the Debating Section in 2015, creating the ACU Debating Challenge Cup. The association was continued in 2018 when the arrangement was renewed for a further 3 years. That year also saw the event hosted at ACU Connors Hall, which is a truly magnificent venue. Hosting the event at Connors Hall gives both primary and secondary students the opportunity to visit the ACU Ballarat campus.

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