Monash Association of Debaters

Catherine Dunlop

 Catherine Dunlop was President, Secretary and External Officer for MAD, President of AIDA, Vice President (Adjudication) for the DAV and Australian delegate to World Universities Debating Council meetings in 1993 (Oxford), 1994 (Melbourne) and 1995 (Princeton).

Perhaps Catherine’s enduring legacy is the focus she brought to the issue of women in debating. Like most university debating associations, Monash Australasian and Worlds contingents through the late 1980s and early 1990s were populated mainly by men. Many argued about the causes but the numerical imbalance was clear. In 1990, only 8% of the debaters at the Australasian IV were women.

Catherine, in concert with a number of other female debaters from Australian universities lobbied successfully for AIDA to introduce affirmative action quotas for Easter and Australasian tournaments. The change sparked heated debate. At the time, Catherine and her cohorts argued that a more balanced culture would eliminate the need for such a rule at some point.

The same women backed up these policies by originating the Women’s IV concept. During its early, fledgling days, there were many detractors, but Catherine and friends worked hard to make it a success. It is now a well-established part of the Australian university scene, and has even managed to attract participants from Asia. Catherine also hosted the first three Women’s meetings at Worlds.

The record now shows that MAD women have been active and successful in debating: three females from our four Worlds winners and women in most Australasian winning teams. While each of these women deserve their own accolades, Catherine was a driving force in the cultural shift that opened up Australian and Monash debating for women.

As President and External Officer for MAD, Catherine brought a level of professionalism and confidence to MAD which was vital for its growth and evolution. Her approach solidified sponsor and alumni relationships. She was part of an important phase in the development of MAD culture that saw an increased emphasis on training and intervarsity competitions while maintaining MAD’s strong social aspects. Over four years on the Executive, and aided by her ever-present, trusty Filofax, Catherine’s work rate was phenomenal.

Catherine was also an outstanding debater, reaching the Worlds semi finals with Ben Richards in 1994 (Melbourne). That performance was part of MAD planting its flag on the world debating stage. It was the furthest a Monash team had been at Worlds and the fact that it took place in Melbourne motivated a bunch of young aspiring onlookers. Ben and Catherine broke the following year at Princeton where Catherine was ranked fourth best speaker. Catherine also reached the semi finals of Australasians 1993 (Kuala Lumpur) and 1994 (Hobart). She was also a highly regarded adjudicator, adjudicating finals at Worlds and Australasians. Catherine was Chief Adjudicator of the Easter and Women’s IVs.

After Monash, Catherine commenced work as an articled clerk at Maddock Lonie & Chisholm (now Maddocks). In 2004 she was made partner of the firm.

  • Nominated by Ray D’Cruz