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Aspirations Day

Business Liaison Association

Wendy FInegan 15 November, 2021 Gifted and Talented Programs

Aspirations Day

Aspirations Day


The Business Liaison Association is proud to support a Cairns State High School initiative - Aspirations Day and Navigating Our Narratives Public Speaking Competition.  Held at Cairns State High School and in conjunction with Cairns Central Travel, Aspirations Day aims to develop proficiency in 21st Century skills and provide learners with the opportunity to meet with representatives from professional organisaitons, associations and academeic institutions.


Students from regional schools are afforded the opportunity to share their musings, develop their public speaking prowess and meet inspirational individuals.

Place winners at the 2021 Aspirations Day


Aspirations Day report – We know what we are but not what we may be


The Regional Aspirations Day Forum initiative held at Cairns State High School provided the opportunity for young people across the region to listen to the montages of inspirational personalities from across the nation and also showcase their public speaking prowess in the Navigating our narratives public speaking competition. Essentially, the purpose behind using Shakespeare’s thought-provoking quotation to underpin the proceedings was to allow students to ponder their unleashed potential. “We know what we are, but not what we may be” (Hamlet, Act IV, Scene V) undeniably navigated the direction of many reflections shared by our panellists. We wanted our learners to recognise their capacity to embark on a journey destined to determine future success and purposeful pathways in an ever-changing world.

Aspirations Day commenced with an eclectic group of panellists who provided poignant anecdotes and a commentary of their personal reflections and insights.  Fundamentally, their advice to the audience was about embracing challenges and failures that may complicate the trajectory of life. These wonderful individuals willingly gave up their valuable time from very busy schedules to travel to Cairns and share their respective journeys. Guest speakers included Jonny Weiss (Founder and Managing Director of Trans Business Circle and son of Holocaust survivors) via zoom, Mrs Cathy Devietti (Principal of Grant Thornton firm and also one of the adjudicators) Jason Klarwein (director of the Grin and Tonic Theatre Company), Dr Nimisha Aithal (paediatric senior house officer from the Queensland Children’s Hospital), Keir Shorey (ABC radio breakfast host) and Valentina Santanderosorio (social worker with Mission Australia in NDIS sector as the Early Childhood Intervention Coordinator). Additionally, Assistant Regional Directors from Education Queensland, Mrs Jan Carr and Mrs Suzanne Currin took on the role of adjudicators and provided a report at the end of the section. The Roving Microphone session was expertly managed by Mr Peter Axford from Malanda State High School and this afforded students with the tremendous opportunity to ask questions of the panellists at the conclusion of their respective montages. All panellists were very warm and keen to provide advice and pearls of wisdom in a natural and unaffected way.

Australia’s former governer general, Sir Peter Cosgrove AK CVO MC delivered a video message of his personal reflections through vignettes and recollections. He passed on his best wishes for all the competitors. Cairns SHS student Evie McNamara eloquently delivered a poem entitled Aspirations that was written by Brigadier George Mansford AM especially for all students in attendance during this event.   

The Navigating our Narratives public speaking competition was embraced by students from Cairns State High School, Atherton State High School, Malanda State High School, Smithfield State High School and Good Counsel College. Fifteen entrants participated in this fiercely competitive section and students spoke confidently, clearly and undeniably engaged their captivated audience.

The topics ranged from We know we are but not what we may be, The lottery of life and The person in the arena. The adjudicators succinctly expressed their commendations for all students and remarked on their presence, poise, pronunciation and speech content. Such qualities will hold them in great stead for their future endeavours. Needless to say, the task of selecting a winner was not enviable as all competitors were articulate and ardent. Congratulations to Ashleigh Binello from Good Counsel College Innisfail in first place, followed by Nihitha Parambanattu from Cairns SHS and Evie Mcnamara also from Cairns SHS who was placed third.

The success of Aspirations Day would not be possible without the support of countless individuals behind the scene. There were volunteers from the technical theatre students, teachers, the tuckshop convenor, teacher aides and Cairns High Executive Principal, Mr Zilm. Thank you sincerely to the generosity of the Business Liaison Association and Cairns Central Travel. The event would not have been a success without their very lucrative prize money. Over three hundred students visited the activities at some time during the day. Thank you BLA – you are amazing.




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