Home Search Contact
Members and Schools:
Log in or sign up.

Welcome to the DAV Website
The DAV is a non-profit association which exists to promote debate. It is the peak debating body in Victoria and runs large competitions for adults and for schools across Victoria. It provides training and resources for debaters, teachers and adjudicators.

Ten Helpful ways to improve your matter

1. From the time you are given the topic to the time the debate ends, you are the advocate of a particular view. You have a responsibility to present the best, rational, well-researched arguments you can come up with, ie. to maintain the quality of the debate.

2. No racist, sexist or homophobic arguments, regardless of the topic. There is nothing wrong with presenting arguments that other people disagree with (indeed this is what a debate is), but there is something wrong with presenting arguments that have an utter lack of empirical evidence to support them and fail even the most basic tests of logic.

3. The only way to build a strong case is to UNDERSTAND WHAT POSITION THE TOPIC IS ASKING YOU TO TAKE. It is not just about understanding the individual arguments you are presenting (although this is also necessary).

4. Ask yourself questions like: is my side of the debate about arguing for individual rights or for the good of the community? Am I arguing for more freedom for corporations, or for protection of the environment or workers’ rights? Am I on the left or right of politics? Am I an economic rationalist in this debate, or do I think the government should intervene in the economy? REMEMBER THERE ARE ONLY FIVE OR SIX DEBATES IN THE WORLD – THEY JUST HAVE DIFFERENT TITLES.

5. If you understand your case, you will find that the quality of your rebuttal will improve dramatically. This is because you will no longer have the common problem of rebuttal that contradicts your main case.

6. Use the internet wisely. I recommend the websites of: The Guardian (moderate left-wing), The Economist (informed, economic rationalist right-wing), New Scientist, The Australian and The Age. There are also specialist websites put up by government bodies or credible non-government organisations (NGOs) which are useful, such as the Greenpeace site or the Amnesty International site.

7. Watch the SBS or, at worst, the ABC news. If you must watch other “news” or “current affairs” shows make sure you watch Mediawatch or old episodes of Frontline as an antidote.

8. I also recommend Foreign Correspondent (ABC), Four Corners (ABC), The Lehrer News Hour (SBS) and Dawson’s Creek. It is called that because Dawson lives next to a creek (in which case why isn’t it called Jen’s Creek or Joey’s Creek?). Or was he called Dawson because his parents lived on a creek called Dawson’s Creek? And what kind of dumb name is Dawson anyway? (Apologies to all kids out there called Dawson.)

9. Don’t lie about statistics. By lie, I mean don’t totally invent them – it is okay if you can’t remember if it is 73% or 78% of school debaters who become wildly popular with attractive members of their preferred sex to say it was 75%. Also, remember to explain the significance of the statistical finding, and to give a source for that finding.

10. Finally, remember that you may have personal beliefs which you cannot assume that your audience/adjudicator share. For eg., you should not argue that “we should not do X” because the Bible tells us not to. Your argument should, in principle, be able to persuade any rational person in the room that your side of the case is right, regardless of that person’s religious beliefs.

Kim Little
Winner of the 2000 World Universities Debating Championships