It has often been said that the sporting world is a microcosm of society and provides an accurate reflection of both the positive and negative elements of our culture.
With sport playing a prominent role in the Australian psyche, issues that arise on-field can be the catalyst for broader conversations in our society. In this year alone, sport-related topics have instigated public debates on homophobia, religious freedom, casual racism in Australian culture, the inclusivity of our national anthem, the gender pay gap, disability inclusion and the stigmatisation of mental health issues.
While some sporting stars reject the notion that they are role models, others have harnessed their influence for the greater good. Join us for this panel discussion featuring a group of sportspeople who have used their platform to bring exposure to big issues that require societal change.
Dylan Alcott OAM is a Paralympic champion in two sports, winning gold in Wheelchair Basketball at the 2008 Beijing Games and a further two golds in Quad Wheelchair Tennis at the 2016 Rio Games. Since taking up tennis professionally, Dylan has dominated the world rankings and, to date, has won nine grand slam singles titles. Through his numerous media roles and countless philanthropic activites, Dylan aims to bring visiblity and remove barriers for the over 4.5 million Australians that have a disability.
Ellia Green OAM is a Rugby Sevens player and a longstanding member of the Australian Pearls. Ellia was part of the team that won the first gold medal in Olympic history at the 2016 Rio Games. She is also a 'Champion of Change' for the UN Women National Committee of Australia, which promotes women’s empowerment, gender equity and worldwide progress to meet the needs of women and girls.
Sharni Layton is currently an AFLW player for the Collingwood Magpies, but is perhaps best known as one of Australia's greatest and most beloved netball players. Her highly decorated career culminated in being named the captain of the Australian Diamonds in 2017 but, shortly after, a depressive episode caused Sharni to temporarily walk away from the spotlight. She has since become a prominent and outspoken mental health advocate.
Casey Conway is a former NRL player for the Sydney Roosters who was forced to retire prematurely due to serious injuries. Since then, Casey has been involved in initiatives with at-risk youth, Indigenous and LGBTIQ+ communities. His recent professional roles have included managing the Pride in Sport program for ACON and he is currently the Manager of Diversity and Inclusion for the NRL.
Paul Kennedy (Moderator) is one of the leading voices in contemporary sporting discussions as a presenter on ABC News Breakfast and occasional host of ABCTV's Offsiders. In addition to his career in TV journalism, Paul is the author of four books. His book Hell on the Way to Heaven (with Chrissie Foster) and subsequent documentary Undeniable exposed the cover up of systematic child abuse by Australian religious and state institutions.
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