The Rostrum public speaking competition in ACT schools is 50 years old | The Canberra Times

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From her home in Yarralumla, where she has lived for 71 years, former primary school teacher Dorothy Hine is reminiscing about how she and her husband Warren introduced ACT school children to the art of public speaking. The couple, led by Warren, started the Rostrum Primary School Public Speaking Competition in Canberra 50 years ago. Mr Hine became involved with Rostrum as a public servant working in primary industry. He wanted some tips on how to speak in an engaging way while negotiating wheat deals with Japan, China or Russia. Mr Hine passed away in 2018 aged 95. For the last three years, Mrs Hine has donated the Warren Hine Memorial trophies to the winners. This year’s final was held recently at Radford College, the competition taking place even in the face of COVID and schools being in lockdown for months. Ninety-two schools participated, with champion speakers from eight schools making the grand final. The winner this year was Leo Richter from Chapman Primary and runners-up were Mia Buser from Mount Carmel School in Yass and Amelie Hitchcock from St Bede’s Primary School in Red Hill. The Hines’ daughter Alison Kerr said seeing how the competition grew, including to regions around the ACT, was one of the highlights of her father’s life and he would have enjoyed being at the final. “Dad would have just loved it, to see the enthusiasm of the children,” she said. Mr Hine also always encouraged his own four children to engage in clear speech and critical thinking, even around the dinner table. He became a judge for Rostrum’s adult public speaking competitions when it was decided to introduce it to schools in 1971, helping to foster children’s confidence. “They thought they should start earlier, for children to become proficient in public speaking,” Mrs Hine said. Mrs Hine, now 95, was a teacher at Yarralumla Primary and helped to kick-start the competition, remembering one of her pupils, Sandra Dennis, won the first event. “The parents became interested in going to the finals of the competition, so it grew like topsy,” she said. The couple went into schools to help develop the competition, giving advice, working with teachers and adjudicating speeches. Mrs Hine also co-wrote a guide to public speaking called Cooking up a Speech. “Every school had a copy of it in their library,” she said And her recipe for a good speech? “Speak clearly, look at your audience and always have a good opening and finishing,” she said, with a twinkle in her eye. Both from Brisbane, the Hines met at a ball at the University of Queensland and moved to Canberra in 1950 after they married. They never thought of leaving the national capital, loving their street in Yarralumla, Drummond Row. Mrs Hine enjoyed the “comradeship” of Canberra. “We’ve got so many friends,” she said. Mrs Hine, who also worked at the Fisher, Urambi and Duffy primary schools, is invariably recognised by a former student every time she steps out. “They always say, ‘Mrs Hine, you haven’t changed a bit’ or ‘Remember that joke you used to say about such and such? You had us all the class roaring in their seats’,” she said, with a laugh. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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