You don’t need to win a Nobel Peace Prize to shape education and be recognised. All you need is a voice.

At the VicSRC Recognition Awards on 18th of October, 16 year olds William Wilson and Chloe Laurel made the co-note address.

Both Chloe and William are in their first terms on the Exec, and they are determined to give a voice to all students in Victoria. We hope you enjoy their powerful speech.

Good evening everyone. It is an incredible honour to speak to you all tonight. We’d first like to congratulate all the finalists and to recognise their awesome talents and their tireless commitment to student voice.

There are approximately 1.8 billion young people in the world, but tonight, we are going to share with you a story of one individual, who has inspired us and will capture why we are here.

In 2012, at the age of 14 the Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai in the head and almost killed her for believing in the right to education. This young girl is an advocate and activist for education, a voice for the voiceless Pakistani girls who are deprived of their basic right to go to school and a representative for all young people around the world.

She began her advocacy journey at the tender age of 11 when the Taliban began attacking schools in her hometown and banning school for girls. She presented a speech titled “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?" from then on, she becoming a target to the Taliban. Malala blogged for the BBC under a pseudo name in efforts to conceal her identity. This allowing her the freedom to speak about her experiences, her passion for education and about human rights without the risk of harm to her and her family. Even after she was exposed, she continued to be vocal about girls’ rights to education on her growing platform despite the danger she was in. She was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize and won Pakistan’s National Peace Prize in 2011.

On October 9 2012, Malala was travelling on a school bus, when she was shot in the head but miraculously survived because of her strength, courage, determination. People from around the world rallied to support her, inspired by her story. She is currently the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace prize, which she obtained in 2014. She continues her fight for education through “The Malala Fund” which provides resources for disadvantaged girls to attend school.

Tonight, we are here to celebrate. Celebrate young people and teachers who are just like Malala. You don’t need to win a Nobel Peace Prize to shape education and be recognised. All you need is a voice. A voice which comes in different forms, with all the same intention, to empower young people!

I am proud to be a part of VicSRC, an organisation which lives by the mission to “empower all student voices to be valued in every aspect of education.” I cannot emphasize the importance of student voice enough, but what I know is that most definitely, is that we are here for the same purpose as Malala.

Malala herself said we are here to “raise our voices, not so that we can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. To be here for those forgotten children who want education; for those frightened children who want peace; for those voiceless children who want change, we are here to stand up for their rights.

Thank you.

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