I really don’t want to speak in front of the group. I wanted to do public speaking training, but I didn’t realise it would involve actual public speaking Free Debate and Western Chances have been working together since 2006 to deliver high quality communications training to youth in Victoria’s western suburbs. And yes the person quoted above did have to talk in front of the group. And yes, she did a very good job, in spite of her fear. Last year Free Debate implemented a successful pilot programme at Bayside College Ð featured in The Bridge newsletter in September ’06 Ð which has resulted in Bayside’s increased involvement in the mainstream debating competition run by the Debater’s Association of Victoria. Free Debate’s four week program focused on basic debating training and research skills and each participant was awarded a certificate by Terry Bracks. Since then Free Debate has expanded its programme to include a “train the trainer” course for teachers with the aim of fostering a debating culture within schools. In 2007 participating schools to date include Kurungang Secondary College, Copperfield College, Kealba College and Bayside Secondary College. More are expected by the end of the year. As the number of schools involved has increased, Free Debate has broadened the programme’s structure to include general presentation and leadership skills as well as formal debating skills. Student leaders as well as debating teams can now learn how to structure, deliver and time a speech, as well as how to use body language, props and microphones. These more general sessions have allowed the students to discuss issues that matter to them (granting an immigration visa to rapper Snoop Dogg was a particularly hot topic in the early sessions) while also having to take up positions contrary to their own. Free Debate is especially grateful for the hard work of Helen Worladge, Executive Director, Western Chances, who has brokered the relationship with Free Debate and has provided constant support as well as introducing Free Debate to other members of the Western Chances network.