The Commonwealth Bank has chosen Minus18 convenor Micah Scott (pictured) as a face for its national Launching Local Heroes campaign.
The St Kilda East resident was nominated for the 2011 Young Australian of the Year award, however, was pipped by solo sailor Jessica Watson. The Commonwealth Bank, the principal sponsor of the awards, has since handpicked eight “inspiring” nominees to support the Launching Local Heroes campaign.
“It was really exciting and a bit of a shock to be chosen,” Scott told the Star Observer.
“I got a call in January that the Commonwealth Bank executives wanted to meet me. I went into a boardroom with all the general managers … and talked with them for an hour and a half about what Minus18 does and the issues [same-sex attracted] young people face.
“It was such an incredible experience and I could see they were interested in what I had to say.”
Scott said he spent a long time talking about how he became involved in Minus18 — a Melbourne support group for same-sex attracted and gender questioning young people — at aged 16. He became a volunteer at 18, and is now the group’s convenor.
Under Scott, Minus18 was awarded a Premier’s Award in 2010 and the group held Australia’s first same-sex formal. Minus18 has also expanded to run workshops and revamped their website to offer support videos for same-sex attracted young people.
“I was raised in a family that was very religious and went to church every Sunday and I really, really struggled with my own sexuality,” Scott said.
“I’d pray at night and wish I wouldn’t be gay and it was such a huge battle for me to accept myself and then there was that entirely other battle of others accepting me.
“When I finally went to a Minus18 event I walked in and something clicked. There were hundreds of other people in the room who had gone through exactly what I had gone through, and suddenly I realised I wasn’t alone and I remember that moment to this day.”
Scott will receive 12 months support from Commonwealth Bank mentors to assist him with his work with Minus18.
Scott explained funding is restricted — the group receives $9000 per year from the Office of Youth FReeZA program — to produce arts and cultural events, but he’d like to see a more proactive approach to help young people struggling with their sexuality.
“We’ve relied on young people coming to us and then we provide them support, but our main goal would be to go to them, and help them … but financially, at the moment, that’s not possible,” he said.
“We really want to head in the direction of [developing] resources, so we have more online interactive videos and, in particular, workshops to support young people and make change in their school.”
The Commonwealth Bank said Scott was a deserving winner.
Photo credit: Commonwealth Bank