It’s OK to be different

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It's ok to be different poster25 October 2016

What do a couple of comedian/writers, an educational psychologist, a social worker, a musician and a refugee advocate have in common?

St Bernard’s College, Essendon, is a school that we here at Catholic Education Melbourne have really only heard from about their cricket and football results, and their highly acclaimed musical production with St Columba’s, and so it was refreshing to learn that the school would be hosting something a little bit different. 

In a bid to encourage St Bernard’s parents and their boys to start a conversation about what it is like to be different, and whether or not that’s OK, the college hosted a great (comedy) debate to open up some of the issues that surround being different in today’s world, and invited some ‘funny and informed’ individuals along to discuss their own experiences.

For the affirmative:

  • Fiona Scott-Norman, writer and comedian and team captainFor the Affirmiteve Team (Left to right) Tim Cronin, Gail Weir and Fiona Scott-Norman.
  • Gail Weir (an educational psychologist)
  • Tim Cronin (a social worker and St Bernard’s Old Collegian).

And for the negative team:

  • Toby Halligan, writer on Channel 10’s The Project and comedian and team captain
  • Linc Yow Yeh, and educational coordinator and musician
  • Katie O’Neill, a refugee advocate.

The speakers had all donated their time in return for money raised for their chosen charities.

Given seven minutes each to speak, even the range of issues covered was surprisingly diverse: from gay marriage and equality, to the necessity of diversity in evolution and science, to schoolyard
camaraderie, to aboriginal rights and immigration, to whether or not Donald Trump is going to cause
the end of the world. Though it wasn’t awarded, the speaker of the night was probably a marginal
win toSpeaker Toby Halligan entertains the crowd. ex-Collegian Tim Cronin, who had not only members of the audience but also one of his teammates in tears over a story about hugging his father.

Arguing with humour and compassion, hope and a genuine trust in the audience, the speakers managed to bring together a debate that will certainly achieve its aim of getting families talking. Capably helped along by Year 11 comedy duo, Jack ‘Stop!’ Busuttil and Paddy ‘Jill’ Kennedy, the night was a credit to its organisers, and managed to raise some money for charity along the way. A resounding success, I’d say.

So, what do a couple of comedian/writers, an educational psychologist, a social worker, a musician and a refugee advocate have in common? Well, maybe not much, but it’s OK to be different.