Jason Ball, 2017 Young Australian of the Year for Victoria

3rd Apr 2017

We were fortunate enough to have as our guest at assembly, Jason Ball, Young Australian of the Year for Victoria, 2017.

Jason came and spoke to all Middle and Senior school students and shared his story and his journey. Jason Ball is best known as the pioneering LGBTI advocate who in 2012 became the first male Aussie Rules footballer at any level of the game to publicly come out as gay in the national media. Jason used this platform to launch a campaign to challenge homophobia in sport and drive cultural change within the AFL.

Since taking that stand, Jason has become a national figurehead on combatting homophobia in sport and highlighting the damaging impact of discrimination on the mental health and wellbeing of the LGBTI community. As an ambassador for beyondblue he has shared his story with thousands of people in schools, workplaces and sporting clubs across the country.

In 2014 the Pride Cup was held at his home football club of Yarra Glen, prior to the game, the Rev Jennie Gordon, Uniting Church Minister offered this reflection:

This is a time of silence to remember those same-sex attracted young people, some whose names we know, who have taken their own lives, or continue to live lives in fear and humiliation because they have not felt loved, accepted and acknowledged for who they are.

A time of silence to admit that we have said and done things out of our own ignorance, deliberately or not, that have hurt people, and to ask for and accept forgiveness from each other and for ourselves.

A time of silence to commit ourselves to moving forward in love, acknowledging that there is a rainbow of different expressions of gender and sexuality and that everyone has a right to feel safe, respected and affirmed on all the fields and courts of our lives.

Timely words and words that many can find connection with.

Jason has gone on to be the force behind the Pride Game, which occurred last year in the AFL between Sydney Swans and St Kilda. This year the Pride Game will be held in Sydney on May 7, once again between the Swans and the Saints.

Unfortunately, in our society today, the LGBTI community continues to experience much exclusion and marginalisation, and it is the work of Jason and many others who raise our awareness and challenge our words and actions and the impact they have on those around us.

As we approach Easter, I stand in awe and wonder when I consider the person of Jesus. Jesus spoke with, ate with, spent time with, showed respect and offered dignity to people on the fringes of society, people excluded and marginalised and disenfranchised by the society in which they lived. Jesus devoted his whole life to offering hope, dignity, and light where there was none. All the way to the cross. So whether you believe Jesus was just a man or is God’s son, I encourage you to consider what he did and why that was revolutionary and how we too might show hope and respect to all people in our community.

by Alison Andrew, School Chaplain and Head of Religious Studies