Voice 2016 – an interview with National Finalist Mirella Wong
We asked one of last year's National Finalists for Voice Victoria 2015, Mirella Wong, about her experiences with the competition and what she's learned since competing at Voice.
What did you give your speeches on?
My speeches were on ‘How can we significantly reduce homelessness in Australia?’, ‘How can we promote the rights of Indigenous people around the world?’ and ‘How can we safeguard and secure our world’s future?’ I focussed my solutions in regards to homelessness on the unification of NGOs and governmental services, as well as implementing a ‘housing first’ scheme. With the rights of Indigenous people, I honed in on the role land rights plays in securing civil and human rights, and I emphasised the ways in which Indigenous peoples of the world are so crucial to the national identity and environmental welfare of their respective countries. In securing our future, I brought together elements of my prior speeches – the unparalleled knowledge of land Indigenous people hold and systematic organisation – to put forward a culmination of ideas in securing our future through building a global economy and effort in conservation and resource management.
What did you enjoy most about competing in Voice?
Voice undoubtedly counts among the experiences that have shaped my views and person. I enjoyed being able to meet and talk to kids from around Australia, sharing the quirks of our states but mostly our beliefs on topics spanning from politics to discrimination and freedoms. I loved being able to learn about issues from an empathetic and in-depth angle, and discover new challenges from those with different experiences. I even met people whom I’d love to work with in the future.
Voice transcended the traditional notion of a competition in that the winners weren’t just those who spoke the best – what ‘won’ were the tangible ideas and sense of hope that everyone left with, and this what I enjoyed the most.
What did you find challenging about competing in Voice?
Voice was challenging from the perspective of making sure you could squeeze in all the content for your speech – 3 minutes flew by very quickly! – and in the grand final, I found the nerves nearly uncontainable! However, the facilitators, convenors and judges were genuinely kind and helpful, giving reassuring nods and clarifying terms. The spirit of the competition gave way to support and friendship; everyone enthusiastically read each other’s speeches and gave constructive evaluation, so these challenges were overcome with ease!
What did you learn through competing in Voice?
The biggest thing I learnt from Voice was how valuable it is to listen to others. At the competition, I was able to hear the solutions and ideas of so many intelligent and caring young people. Listening manifested itself in other ways as well – every topic that I research presented problems that could easily be stemmed back to a lack of communication, a lack of empathy and a lack of will to just listen. Listening is such a simple thing that opens a world of enlightenment on all conceivable planes – it struck me that if resource management bodies listened, jobs could be created and Indigenous peoples could gain their rightful liberties with benefits for all. If councils listened, homelessness would be on the decline, not the rise. And thus, listening is the most important lesson of all – as the next generation of business people and politicians, wisdom gained through listening will culminate in big change in our society.
What was your favourite part of your speeches in Voice?
The best part of my speeches was that I was truly speaking about things I am passionate about – things that always make me wonder ‘why?’ or ‘honestly, what is actually being done about this?’ Most specifically, in my grand final speech of securing the world’s future, I spoke of environmental issues and its inextricable link to humanity’s ability to survive and thrive, a link stunted by vested interest and limited foresight. Being able to articulate my opinions to the audience gave me so much happiness, as this audience was nodding right along with me. These are the people that will work towards a better world, and to see this in action really was humbling.
Not only did Voice provide a medium to talk about pressing world issues, but also and most importantly, a way of enacting meaningful change! In my speeches, I gave solutions, not platitudes or clichés. And this affirmed my belief that I have a voice, and I can make a difference; I can go out and accomplish what I’ve said. Upon arriving back at school, opportunities arose everywhere, from organising school charity events to volunteering for tree planting. Voice, and thus my speeches, gave me the benefit of realisation, and how much my actions and those of my generation, can matter.
Want a platform to share your ideas about how we can change the world for the better? Sign up now to compete in Voice 2016.