A rare combination of Australian sport-stars are lining up for UNSW Sydney’s Game Changers panel talk on Tuesday 24 September from 6:00 – 7:30 pm at the Roundhouse – one of the flagship events for this year’s UNSW Diversity Fest.
The star-studded line-up includes Australian Paralympian and current Wimbledon champion Dylan Alcott, Rugby 7s Olympic gold medallist Ellia Green, former Australian Netball Diamond and current Collingwood AFLW player Sharni Layton and the NRL’s Diversity and Inclusion Manager Casey Conway.
The inspiring panel will ignite conversation around diversity and discrimination in sport and how situations on the field often trigger bigger discussions off field. ABC Breakfast’s Paul Kennedy will lead the Game Changers panel where each athlete will openly share their personal experiences highlighting issues surrounding gender, sexuality, disability and race in sport and beyond. These conversations will demonstrate their perseverance and willingness to harness their profile and leadership roles to fight discrimination and inequality.
“UNSW Diversity Fest is a platform for people from diverse backgrounds and professions to share their stories and learn from each other. Openness, communication, understanding and compassion are fundamental aspects of growing a more inclusive society,” Professor Eileen Baldry, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Division of Equity Diversity & Inclusion at UNSW said.
Mr Alcott OAM excels in not only one but two sports, winning gold in multiple sporting events. He has two Olympic gold medals in wheelchair basketball and a further two gold medals in wheelchair tennis. With a talent for tennis, he’s risen to world number one and won nine grand slam tennis singles titles. Mr Alcott advocates that having a disability ‘isn’t a death sentence’ and has made it his mission to show that disability does not have to detract from the quality of your life or the success you can achieve.
“I see firsthand the barriers people with disability face when trying to access education and employment,” Mr Alcott said. “Sometimes they feel as though their dreams are impossible. Being part of the Game Changers event is a chance to shed light on the misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding people with disabilities. I also want to emphasise that their dreams are possible, with drive and determination – and encourage them to dream big.”
Game Changers will be moderated by Paul Kennedy – esteemed TV presenter on ABC News Breakfast and occasional host of ABCTV’s Offsiders. A former AFL player turned successful sporting coach, he has also become a crusader for human rights and exposing corruption. Mr Kennedy steers conversations to unearth truths and helps society address and better understand some of the challenges that exist in the world.
“I’m passionate about sport being an inclusive and welcoming place for everyone,” said Sharni Layton. “Getting to meet so many kids from all different backgrounds and seeing how inspired they are by their sporting heroes has made me realise what an important role we can play in making sport a safe place for everyone to play. Being part of the growth of women’s sport in netball and AFLW has been such a special experience and I’m excited to discuss what the future holds for all women and girls, whether that be those who aspire to play professional sport or empowering all girls in our communities through participation in sport.”
The opportunity to talk about the success of the Australian women’s sevens team in a traditionally male sport is exciting for rugby player Ellia Green.
“Winning the first Olympic gold medal in Rugby Sevens was such a special moment – one that I will never forget. For us as the Australian Women’s Sevens team, it really put us on the map and started some great conversations around women’s sport.” Ms Green said. “Even though rugby has traditionally been a very male sport, it’s been really exciting to see the support we’ve built over the last few years and the momentum around women’s sport. I’m looking forward to talking about how we can make sport an even better and more diverse space in Australia.”