It is Thursday evening the 12 May. Twenty-one students from seven secondary schools across the North-West Coast are making their way to Marist Regional College’s McAuley Centre. One of the students is from the College, Evie Speers. Butterflies are performing acrobatics in their stomachs. They are trying to quell their nerves, channelling this unwanted feeling into positive public speaking energy. 

The occasion is Rostrum Voice of Youth. Held annually across Australia, this secondary school speaking competition is open to students from Years 7 to 12.  

Evie is a Year 7 student and a member of the College’s public speaking and debating club. She has a Jack Russell Terrier Determination: prepared to have a go at anything and everything.  

The Competition is two-pronged: a prepared, and a short notice speech is delivered. Students choose from a selection of five topics. Evie chose the topic, ‘Wait and See’.   

An excerpt from her speech: 

There are many incredible women that have been or are involved with computer programming and I would like to tell you about some of these inspirational women. 

It is important to encourage young people especially girls to get involved in coding. Teach them coding skills and wait and see what develops… 

Computer programming or coding is about transferring information and ideas into a language the computer can understand so that we can get technology to do what we want. Coding teaches important skills, like problem solving, creativity and imagination. We use coding lots in our everyday lives, in so many ways: like waking up to the sound of your alarm, your regular midnight games of candy crush, how your items get scanned at the supermarket, even your fancy new vacuum cleaner could be programmed by a code. 

Computer programming is currently a male dominated industry, but it hasn’t always been like this. Believe it or not, the first ever programmer was actually a woman, named Ada Lovelace.  

I’m going to tell you all about her and her legacy in a minute because even though she may have been the first, there were and are many other women involved in the computer programming industry. And I’m sure there are many more to come, we just need to wait and see.  


With the prepared speeches delivered, the short notice section begins. Students have fifteen-minutes to prepare a three-minute speech. With three topics to select from, Evie chose, ‘A Good Friend’. This speech had three facets: the challenges experienced when changing friendship groups when transitioning from primary to secondary school, the importance of being able to adapt to change, and that acceptance and loyalty is fundamental to friendship.  

Evie should be congratulated on how well she spoke on the night.  

On behalf of the College, I thank Evie for the time and effort she placed into Rostrum Voice of Youth. I look forward to seeing her grow as a public speaker over the coming years. 

Contributed by 

Tess McDonagh