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By Kyra Gillespie

The Council Chambers were transformed into a fiery debating ring when youth councillors and Cardinia Shire councillors went head to head on Wednesday 9 May.

Cardinia Shire Mayor Cr Collin Ross said the event provided some of the youth councillors with the opportunity to participate in a debate for the first time, within a safe, supportive yet professional and challenging environment.

“The debate was one way the youth councillors could develop their public speaking and debating skills in a practical setting, whilst being exposed to council business. Through the debate, they were able to practice delving into topics with which they may or may not have already been familiar, formulate considered arguments, and build their confidence,” Cr Ross said.

“It was great fun for everyone who attended and provided other council business units an opportunity to get involved in the youth council activities.”

With a number of topics available and selected by the winner of a coin-toss, three debates were held on the following topics: Graffiti is a legitimate art form; We should lower the voting age to 16 years; and social media sites do more harm than good.

Each speaker had 3-4 minutes to speak and there were three speakers on each of the six teams, which were divided into ‘youth councillors’ versus ‘councillors and council staff’.

Council’s Youth Services Officer and Healthy Children’s Facilitator stood in as the adjudicators, officially deciding the winning teams for each debate.

Topic one drew, topic two was won by youth councillors and topic three was won by the councillors.

“All the speakers did a remarkable job at convincing the adjudicators and audience of their arguments and disarming the opposing team during rebuttals. I believe the youth councillors found the exercise to be worthwhile and motivating, and I look forward to seeing how they will use this experience to further hone their skills as they progress through the youth council program,” Cr Ross said.

“There is a lot more for the youth councillors to look forward to as well, with a visit to Parliament, an environmental leadership camp and developing a youth expo all coming up before the program finishes later this year.”

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