A NEW perspective on one of Australia's most contested public debates was heard in Ballarat last week, as the issue of asylum seekers took centre stage at the Royal South Street competitions.
Ballarat Grammar student Gemma Abraham took first place in the public speaking competition as she called for justice for asylum seekers in the Australian community.
While Federal Parliament and an expert panel appointed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard grappled with the issue, the 13-year-old called for fair treatment for those who arrive by boat.
Gemma used a submission to the panel led by retired Defence Force chief Angus Houston to argue Australian society would benefit from the presence of children who seek asylum with their parents.
"I have always had a keen interest in children who do not get the same opportunities as children like us in Australia and I am very much involved in fund raising to educate children in East Timor," she said.
Gemma called for asylum seekers to be allowed to share in the wealth and opportunity of Australia.