By Amanda Murthy
Sporting legend, radio host, author and disability advocate Dylan Alcott OAM has this year taken centre stage at the 2019 MercyCare Oration, candidly sharing his life-stories and achievements, highlighting the theme of the day, ‘Diversity and Inclusion.’
Held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on Monday, September 23, the event was attended by more than 500 people including Mercy Sisters, MercyCare staff, staff from Catholic Education Western Australia Ltd, stakeholders, Catholic agency groups as well as staff and students from local schools.
Along the entrance of the ballroom, a portrait series called MercyCare Diversity Art Collection, Captured by 2018 AIPP Australian Portrait Photographer of the Year Steve Wise, showcasing photographs and stories of staff and clients of MercyCare, were displayed.
After a welcome to country and opening address, Dylan took the stage, inspiring all present with his hope-filled story that reflects the MercyCare’s vision and values.
“I was born with a tumour on my spine. Operations to remove it left me a paraplegic soon after I was born,” he said.
“However, my incredible family who never once treated me differently, encouraged me to maintain a positive outlook on my life.
Form a young age, Dylan gained multiple successes both on and off the court. He has won Olympic gold for Australia in both wheelchair basketball and tennis, currently ranked number one in the world for wheelchair tennis.
Beyond the court, Dylan is also a radio host for the Triple J station and in 2017, he started the Dylan Alcott foundation.
He is also the face behind the Ability Music Festival, an all-inclusive music festival organised to raise funds for his charity.
Dylan’s message to those present at the MercyCare Oration event was to be bold, have passion, purpose, to have a positive perception and to become the best version of ‘yourself’ was taken to heart by the enraptured audience.
“Put yourself out there and good things will come, if you’re passionate about something, you will be good at it and if you’re good at it you will be successful – because it’s important to enjoy what you are doing,” Dylan cited.
“Never forget that there is only one you and we only have one life – so be the best version of yourself.
“One of my main goals is to help young Australians with disabilities gain confidence and fulfil their dreams – and to change people’s views on disabilities,” he concluded.
MercyCare CEO Anthony Smith delivered a closing address before presenting Dylan with the first MercyCare Diversity and Inclusion Art Collection book, a collection of extraordinary photographs and stories from MercyCare’s staff and service users that was launched on the night.
“Dylan plays and Australia watches. Dylan speaks and Australia listens. That conversation around diversity and inclusion is what we at MercyCare want people to take beyond MercyCare Oration,” Mr Smith said.
“As business leaders, we need to continue to challenge ourselves on how we can effect change and be a champion for diversity and inclusion.
“We want to create social change for the better, and we strive to do this every day within our family and community, disability, early learning, and aged care services,” he concluded.
Copies of MercyCare’s Diversity and Inclusion Art Collection book are still available, those interested should email firstname.lastname@example.org with proceeds from book sales going towards fundraising efforts.