VCE LEGAL STUDIES: AN AFTERNOON WITH THE GOVERNOR OF VICTORIA
Last term McKinnon Secondary College was approached by the Governor’s office to have a virtual Q and A session with the Governor of Victoria, Her excellency, Linda Dessau and her husband Anthony Howard. Both the Governor and Mr Howard are former Judges so for a Legal Studies class to have the opportunity to meet with people of such experience it was an opportunity too good to pass up. A great deal of planning went into this visit, and the Year 10 and 11 students involved put together a list of questions to ask. While we were all feeling a little bit nervous about meeting with such distinguished guests (including our Principal who was invited to attend!) it was refreshing to see how warm, generous and inspiring they both were as they shared their experiences with our group and answered our questions.
Students of Legal Studies and Politics know that the formal role of the Queen's Representative in the State of Victoria is to give royal assent to bills and dissolve Parliament before an election. The textbooks tell us that much. In practice Governors do a whole lot more in the community and it was wonderful that Her Excellency and Mr Howard were able to share this with us. As the first female Governor in Victoria, Ms Dessau is an inspiration to all young people who have aspirations to make a difference. Our female students, naturally, were particularly impressed by Ms Dessau and her inspiring journey. Ms D’Ambrosio and I asked our students to reflect on their experience with the Governor and Mr Howard and here are some of those reflections:
Mrs Angela Masterson
Head of Humanities and VCE Legal Studies Teacher
I expected to gain a greater understanding of not only the Governor's job/role but also a more in depth view of the workings of the Victorian legal system from a living source, not a textbook. An unexpected morsel of information that I learned during this interview is how the Governor of Victoria cannot have a certain political view and must remain entirely impartial, hence the reasoning behind her surrendering the right to vote. What initially stunned me was how relatable the Governor was. It was an odd feeling to put a face (an incredibly kind one at that) to a name and title. After this initial surprise, another thing that astounded me was how involved she was in the community.
The entire interview was incredibly inspiring but a certain question that stuck out to me was whether she faced any discrimination based on her gender, and how to overcome it. Her response was a breath of fresh air when all you hear is to work hard and let your work speak for itself. Whilst she did gloss over this point, she also advocated for bringing the women around you up with you. Another incredibly useful tip I learnt was when someone was exhibiting this behaviour that goes against that, instead of calling them out, do it privately. This was incredibly inspiring as she showed us her title was proof that we could be anything.
Jade Nicholls 10J
What surprised me about the session was the in depth and honest answers to the questions by the Governor. I thought due to the status of her position and that only a select few questions were going to be answered, that she could not speak too freely about her position and thoughts. Though over the course of the meet every question was answered to its full extent. Especially the one regarding the general outline of her position and why it was necessary, wherein she outlined her role and the bipartisan nature of it and how that is intrinsic to her role. What I found very interesting about it was the level at which she upheld this ideal, not showing favour to one side or another, which I think would be a difficult thing to do. Another interesting thing was in how she responded to being asked how she felt to be the first woman in her position, which she did acknowledge as being an accomplishment but also wished that it was just normal which is a very different answer than what I was expecting.
Jamin Austin 11A
I had the great honour of asking a question during the Q and A session with the governor of Victoria. While I expected the session to be extremely formal and stringent, it did not really turn out that way as the Governor and her husband spoke quite freely about all the questions we asked. Even though we did not get through all the questions, the Governor touched on many subjects that inspired me and I hope it also inspired everyone who attended. One thing I found particularly inspiring was the Governor's advice to us as students - to dream big, but to keep our dreams broad.
Millie Dodos 11C
I was inspired by how she is the first female governor and how there has only been one female Prime Minister, Governor General and Premier as well as Governor. I liked how she said that hopefully one day in the future having a female as an Australian leader will be just as normal as a male one. Although I am unlikely to go into a role in the Victorian Government, what she said applies to all parts of our lives, with gender pay gap, stereotypes and in so many other aspects.
Mia Ciccolallo 10C
I was excited for this Q and A as it was a rare opportunity and I felt very lucky to have been able to be a part of it. The Governor and her husband answered each of our questions trying to include many details to better our understanding of their role in our parliamentary system. It was a very informative and enjoyable session, especially because I was honoured to be able to take advice and listen to the first female Governor of Victoria as she is a great role model for young girls such as myself.
Dize Yesildag 10O
I learnt that the governor outwardly must remain apolitical, not being able to pass judgment on both political and legislative issues. Linda Dessau illustrated a benefit of this during the session, when she explained that in difficult times, an apolitical head of state can provide a measured outlook of hope. I was inspired by the success of both Linda Dessau and Anthony Howard. That is, I was inspired by how well-informed they were in relation to the legal system, and how modest they still remained.
Ryan Borowitz 10B
I learnt about the extent of community engagement the Governor undertakes. Her Excellency also talked about her passions of indigenous reconciliation and how she aimed to have diverse groups. I was surprised at the extent of community engagement done by Her Excellency. I had always thought that the Governor's role would have more to do with constitutional responsibilities. Her Excellency is an inspiring individual herself. She is very successful and seems to be very dedicated to her role and the state.
Zoe James 10G