2022 National History Challenge



28 NOVEMBER 2022


I would like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we stand, the Ngunnawal people, and their elders past and present.

In doing so I commit the Government, which I am proud to be a part of, to the implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full.

Thank you to the History Teachers’ Association of Australia for the honour to present these prestigious awards here today.

Can I particularly recognise:

  • Catherine Barton, President of the HTAA,
  • Elizabeth McGinnis, Chair of the National History Challenge,
  • David Murray, National Executive Officer of the National History Challenge,
  • Members of Parliament,
  • Award Winners, and
  • their proud parents. 

I love history. If I wasn’t doing this job, I think I would love to be a history teacher.

What a job.

Every day you get to jump in a time machine.

A new place. New people. New stories. New knowledge.

My history teacher did that for me.

His name is Peter Valenti.

And he took me all around the world. From his classroom.

He helped me understand not just what had happened in the past, but what could be in the future.

The power of people to do extraordinarily good and evil things.

And the power we all hold to change our lives, and the lives of others, for the better.

Understanding history also helps us to better understand the world we live in today. Why it is the way it is.

Everything around us is because of decisions that were made and things that happened in the past.

That’s why I love history so much. Because of what it teaches us – about us.

As Michael Crichton once said:

“If you don’t know history,

then you don’t know anything.

You are a leaf that doesn’t

know it is part of a tree.”

That’s why initiatives like these Awards are so important.

They help give you that knowledge.

They put you in that time machine I talked about.

This year, more than 4,000 students from more than 500 different schools blasted off back in time.

Arlo took us back to the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Abigail took us to the Port Arthur Massacre.

Elizabeth took us to the Cold War in Africa.

Jolyn took us to World War One.

En-Mei Miao took us to the Berlin Wall.

Elana took us to Bollywood and Nektaria to Eurovision.

Grace taught us about protests.

Stella taught us about pandemics.

Niamh taught us about Indigenous history.

Lachie introduced us to Ronald Reagan and Mia reminded us of Gough.

Thank you.

I loved coming on the journey with you and reading everything you wrote.

And I hope you keep doing it. For the rest of your lives.

Reading about history, studying it, questioning it.

Chilling out with it. Listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos.

And most importantly learning from it.

I also hope that long after you leave school that you keep in touch with your history teachers.

I do.

Peter Valenti and I are still great mates.

More than 30 years  after he stopped teaching me at Canley Vale High School, we still keep in touch, we still catch up for lunch, and I am still learning from him.

It’s not really fair, but there can only be one Young Historian of the Year, and it is my privilege to now announce who that is.

ABBA won it.

Celine Dion won it.

We have tried to win it.

And for her work on the history of it and its link to European politics (I’m talking about Eurovision), the winner of the 2022 Young Historian of the Year is Nektaria Toscas.