Advocate for equality and LGBTI inclusion in sport Jason Ball has been named the 2017 Young Australian of the Year in Victoria.
As an Australian Rules player, when Ball came out in 2012 it captured the public’s attention and support, and helped to open the dialogue around homophobia in sport.
In a post on Facebook, Ball said the news was still sinking in.
He was up against a range of inspiring finalists including anti-domestic violence advocate Tarang Chawla, mental and sexual health crusader Jessica Dean, and kidney health ambassador Grant Monks.
“The Australian of the Year Awards have historically been a powerful opportunity to shine a light on neglected social issues which need Australia’s attention, from mental health to domestic violence and gender inequality,” he said.
“I will use this platform to continue to champion equality, acceptance and inclusion in sporting clubs, schools, and workplaces.
“In doing so, I hope to do my bit to reduce the disproportionate rates of mental illness, attempted suicide, and homelessness experienced by the LGBTI community.”
Ball added that now more than ever it’s important for the community to come together and create change.
“At a time of global uncertainty and when the LGBTI community faces persistent attacks from sections of the media and even of our own government, I feel passionately that we must be the change we want to see in the world,” he said.
“It is truly an honour to represent Victoria with this award.”
Ball will now become a finalist for the national award which will be announced in Canberra on Australia Day Eve.
The Australian of the Year Awards is a program of the National Australia Day Council.