Raise Your Words, Not Your Voice–Isabel Nolan’s Australian Debating Blazer

Long before the Queensland Debating Union (QDU) was established in 1960, our students were already robustly questioning and actively pushing boundaries—all for good causes, of course. A typical Grammar girl, then, as now, just loves a good argument.

At that time, the QDU competition offered the only competitive, high-quality opportunity for girls to have their voices heard. Today, the QDU competition provides the pathway for students to the Queensland Schools team, and possibly onto the Australian Schools competition.

The black Australian Schools team blazer has been worn by all members of the Australian team during competition for more than 20 years. Isabel Nolan (2017) donated her representative blazer to the Girls Grammar archives for it to be preserved as an inspiration for future debaters.

Isabel Nolan’s Australian Debating Blazer, RLC Level 3

This inspiration can only enhance an already successful program, where the School has celebrated winning the prestigious QDU Champion Schools Trophy in 2017 and 2019, and since 2015, has accommodated over 300 debaters per year.

This means that one in five girls is honing her skills throughout the School year—a daunting prospect indeed for the opposition, and perhaps even for some parents!

QDU Schools Championship Trophies, 2017

QDU Schools Championship Trophies, 2019

In 2013, an extraordinary young debater stepped onto the School Debating stage. Isabel Nolan was a member of the winning team for the 2013 QDU Year 8 Grand Final. She continued, with appearances in Years 9 and 10 Grand Finals, and she won 2015 and 2016 Best Speaker Awards, and the 2016 Grand Final in BGDA. Isabel also featured in the winning team in the 2017 QDU Women’s Day Tournament, as well as being part of a winning senior QDU team, all of which culminated in her being invited to join the Queensland Schools team in 2016. This team won the National Finals.

Queensland Schools team 2016 Callum Dargavel, Tristan Hurree, Nick Salmon (Coach), Xavier Redmond, Isabel Nolan

Queensland Schools team 2017 Nick Salmon (Coach), Tom Parnell, Dougal Brown, Isabel Nolan, Jackie Murtagh, Nick Grice, Sadie McDonald (Coach, BGGS alumna 2014)

The following year, she was invited to join the team as Captain. After a stunning week of debating, Isabel was selected to join the Australian Schools 2017 team competing in the World Schools Debating Championships in Bali. The team reached the Quarter Finals from a field of over 50 nations, and Isabel was tabbed sixth in a field of 250 debaters.

Isabel Nolan was awarded sixth place in a field of 250 debaters

Isabel continues to inspire new generations of Girls Grammar debaters through her participation in the Australian Universities team (ranked fifth in the world), coaching Girls Grammar teams, and adjudicating at World tournaments—all of this while completing her Arts/Law studies. As students wander past her blazer in the Elizabeth Jameson Research Learning Centre on Level 3, they can aspire to achieve Isabel’s high standards and commitment.

Mrs Anne Byrne
Chemistry teacher and Debating Coordinator


Queensland Debating Union (2017). Queensland Schools Debating 2017 [Facebook Home page (Photos)], retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Education/Queensland-State-Debating-Team-451056991655353/

Queensland Debating Union (2017). World Debating Championship 2017 (@qlddebating) Twitter, August 5, 2017, retrieved from Aus. Debating Team @AustSchoolsTeam) Twitter

Queensland Debating Union (2017). World Debating Championship 2017 (@qlddebating) Twitter, August 9, 2017, retrieved from Aus. Debating Team @AustSchoolsTeam) Twitter