I cried so hard on Tuesday night I could barely see. Staring open-mouthed at my TV through a haze of happy tears, I was crying because Dylan Alcott, an incredible athlete and advocate for the disabled community, had just won Australian of the Year!
For me, as a young woman who has grown up with Cerebral Palsy and navigates the world in a wheelchair, this was a momentous occasion. Someone who looked like me was on the biggest stage in the country. For the little girl I used to be, who never saw anyone that looked like her on television or really in any form of media, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Change is coming.
It’s hard to put into words just how much Dylan’s win means for our community. The opportunities it gives all of us to be heard, and to be given a seat at the table. The way it centres the many injustices and complexities our community faces every day as the largest and only marginalised group you can join at any time, and yet the one most often silenced. I don’t know the exact details of his plans over the next 12 months, but I do know that much like his predecessor, Grace Tame, Dylan won’t be afraid to shake things up. He wouldn’t be where he is if he was.
That’s why he wasted no time in pointing out that as the world reopens, we as disabled people cannot be left behind. We can’t be ignored when it comes to employment, dating, representation or opportunity. Dylan Alcott is far from the first disability advocate to make noise but he is one of the first to be heard. To be given recognition. That’s not OK. There are so many others in the past who’ve deserved it. But thanks to Dylan and his innate understanding of what it means to use your platform while holding the door open for others, I can guarantee he won’t be the last.
More about Hannah Diviney: At 22 years old, Hannah Diviney is a leading disability advocate and writer based in Sydney, Australia. Her greatest achievements as a disability advocate include her role as creator of the wildly successful Change.org petition which calls on Disney Studios to create a disabled Disney Princess, and her role as co-founder of the charity event Krazy Kosci Klimb, which sees young people with disabilities and their families conquer Mt Kosciuszko. She is also the Editor in Chief of the global publication platform, Missing Perspectives – a platform dedicated to addressing the marginalisation and under-representation of women and girls in news, media, democracy, and decision-making around the world. Hannah was also a finalist in the Australian Women’s Weekly Women of The Future Awards for 2021 and a nominee for the 2022 Young Australian of The Year.
For more about Hannah Diviney, visit her site here.
For more from The Carousel on The Women of The Future Awards finalists, visit here.
To read more about inspirational women, read about Ally Watson, founder of Code Like a Girl, here.