Bass High School students seize chance meet PM

3 June 2013

Students of Bass High School recently seized the opportunity to meet and question the Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the ABC studios for the 'Q&A' program, broadcast live nationally on 6 May. Their teacher John Ryan, who is also the Compass coordinator at the school, responded to a notice in the Compass program's weekly e-newsletter inviting schools to apply to the High School Showdown episode. To be part of the audience, students were asked to submit a one-minute video describing their school and its unique features. The students focused on the history of the local area, the school farm and successful sporting teams. As a result, five students and Mr Ryan joined 40 other schools representing NSW, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland at the event.

Year 11 student Kellen Budelay was given an opportunity to ask Ms Gillard a question. "I asked her about any future plans for the young people of South-Western Sydney. I hear about a lot of things but I don't see anything changing," Kellen said. "She talked about opportunity and statistics showing that more people from South-West Sydney are attending university than ever before. I felt that she knew what she was talking about and she knew what I was concerned about."

Ms Gillard also said: "I know that there are children in this country at schools who aren't getting an equal chance with other kids. Of the things I want to see done for students in south-west Sydney... I want to make sure that they have got more of an opportunity to go to university."

Kellen was impressed with Ms Gillard off and on camera. "She brought a positive attitude," she said. "She's different to how she is portrayed in the media; she has a nice sense of humour and seemed genuinely concerned about our questions." Kellen admitted she was nervous about being on live television but said she enjoyed the opportunity of questioning the Prime Minister.

Teacher John Ryan added, "This event was important in the lives of our students as it shows them possibilities. It allowed them a voice in their future and an experience none of them will forget. The Bass students who attended chatted before the show with students from all over the country. Thanks to Compass for telling us about it!"

See a transcript of the program here.

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