Junior State Debating Championships

Latest Competition News

We're planning for the Junior State Debating Championships to return in 2021! We'll be in touch soon with all the schools entered in the Premier's Debating Challenge about how to try out for your regional teams.

About the Competition

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

Rules of the Competition

  • The Junior State Debating Championships involve representative regional teams and their coaches from across the state and generally take place in the first week of December.
  • 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 5 members.
  • Each speaker should speak for a maximum of 8 minutes, with a warning bell at 6 minutes. A continuous bell will be rung at 9 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 3 days at the end of term 4.
  • The 10 teams are placed in 2 pools, each containing 5 teams. All teams have 5 debates and one workshop over the first 2 days of the championships.
  • The winners of the 2 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.
  • The state's most experienced debating coaches adjudicate the debates and give workshops in advanced debating techniques.


  • 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 check out the list of past winners and speakers of the tournament by clicking here, and you can watch the 2019 final below or if you prefer go 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 a success in 2019!