Junior State Debating Championships

The Junior State Debating Championships provide unique opportunities for talented debating students from NSW government schools in Years 9&10 to engage in debates and workshops within the context of an annual camp.

About the Competition

This competition began in 1981 as the Neil Gunther Inter-Regional Debating Competition, involving Year 10 students from across the state. The name of the competition changed in 1988 to the Junior State Debating Championships for the Neil Gunther Shield. In 1991 it was decided to incorporate the competition into a camp to enable a change of focus on developing skills in effective communication while also concentrating on enhancing teamwork in a competitive environment.

State Final

Congratulations to the Sydney Region Team, who defeated Riverina to win the final of the 2016 Junior State Debating Championships held at Women's College, University of Sydney, on Wednesday 30 November.  Pictured here are (left to right) Ashna Hegde (Sydney Girls High School), Alex De Arujo (Sydney Boys High School), John Bivell (Fort Street High School), Lachlan Anderson (Caringbah High School), Bella Bauer (Canterbury Girls High School), Elisabeth Speechly (Coach).

The Lily Gunther Shield for best speaker of the championships was awarded to Brianna Hefren from Cootamundra High School.

2016 JSDC Winners

Rules of Competition

  • The Junior State Debating Championships involve representative regional teams and their coaches from across the state.
  • Competitors should be from Years 9 and 10 attending a government school.
  • Only one student may be selected per school and each student may only compete at one Championships.
  • Teams should be comprised of five members.
  • Each speaker should speak for a maximum of eight minutes, with a warning bell at six minutes. A continuous bell will be rung at nine minutes.
  • The topics will only be disclosed, and decided upon, immediately prior to preparation time.
  • Teams should prepare their debates within a predetermined time limit of one hour, without the assistance of their coaches.

Stages of Competition

  • The Junior State Debating Championships are held over three days at the end of November
  • The ten teams are placed in two pools, each containing five teams. All teams have four debates and one workshop over the first two days of the championships.
  • The winners of the two pools meet in the Final, which is held prior to lunch on the third day to enable teams to travel back to their home regions.
  • Members of the Flying Squad adjudicate the debates and give workshops in advanced debating techniques, including refutation, definition and case development.


  • The Neil Gunther Shield is awarded to the State Champion Team.
  • The Lily Gunther Shield is awarded to the Best Speaker of the Championships as decided by the Flying Squad and the State Debating Coordinator.
  • Medallions are awarded to team members of both teams competing in the State Final
  • Certificates are awarded to all participants.

You can see a list of past winners of the competition by clicking here, and you can watch the 2016 final below by either clicking play, or if you click on the title you'll be taken to Vimeo to watch the debate. There you'll have more options like being able to download the video or jump between speakers by clicking on their times. Congratulations again to these debaters and everyone who made the competition such a success last year.