A team from Penrith High School won the national Model United Nations Assembly debating competition in Canberra in August.
The annual competition was conducted at the Museum of Australian Democracy (Old Parliament House) and the all male Penrith team triumphed after a gruelling two days of debating the challenges of world peace, climate change, health, education, living standards and a variety of other topics.
The superb skills of Penrith High team members John Maddock, Rhys O’Connor and Victor Zhou carried the team to victory which represented a ‘first’ for Penrith and Rotary District 9685.
The Model United Nations Assembly (MUNA) has been one of Australian Rotary’s premier youth programs since introduced from Canada by the Rotary Club of Lake Cargelligo, NSW, District 9700, during the early 1980s. Program development over the years has ensured MUNA provides an excellent forum for students in Years 10 – 12 to understand the principles and work of the United Nations organisation whilst enhancing debating skills and growing knowledge of world issues.
Penrith won the right to contest the national finals in Canberra by out-debating 32 teams at the MUNA Western Sydney event organised and conducted by local Rotarians in June.
Twenty-seven teams from four Australian States contested the national finals in Canberra. Each team was allocated a country to represent – with Penrith drawing the United Kingdom.
Topics this year included –
  • Proliferation of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula.
  • Regulating international migration.
  • International cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
  • Protection of the Global climate for present and future generations.
  • Protection of journalistic freedoms.
National finals are conducted in the former House of Representatives chamber in old Parliament House – which of course creates a special aura for competing students.
All contestants were congratulated on the quality and enthusiasm of their debating. Their research fostered a greater understanding of the international and domestic policies of countries represented – and all three Penrith team members have indicated they are contemplating a career in international relations.
The Penrith team was mentored by Penrith High Head of Social Sciences Joel MacRae who was honoured by Rotary with a special Teaching Award last October.
Pictured – Penrith High School’s 2019 MUNA Debating Team receive their awards from Rotary organisers of the Western Sydney event last June. From left, those pictured are Past President Drew Fitzpatrick of Lower Blue Mountains Rotary, John Maddock, Rhys O’Connor, Victor Zhou, Penrith High Head of Social Sciences Joel MacRae, and Rotary District 9685 Governor Elect David Clark.