Kicking goals with Jason Ball
It was our pleasure to host Cube’s annual Grand Final Breakfast with this year’s guest speaker Jason Ball. Jason is a strong advocate for LGBTI equality who, after coming out in 2012, launched a campaign to challenge homophobia in sport and drive cultural change within the AFL. Jason is a national figurehead for combatting homophobia in sport and the damaging impact of discrimination on the mental health and wellbeing of the LGBTI community. Jason is the 2017 Victorian Young Australian of the Year, a well-deserved honour for his work as a passionate community advocate for LGBTI equality and mental health.
Of the raft of things the talented and delightful Jason Ball spoke about, two things really stood out for me. First is Jason’s approach to combatting homophobia through storytelling. Second is what millennials can do, and are doing, to create positive change.
Breaking down barriers with stories
Jason spoke about changing hearts and minds through storytelling. When you hear someone expressing an opinion that homophobic slurs are acceptable sledges during a footy match, it’s easy to get angry and tell the other person why you think they are wrong. But that won’t necessarily change their mind or the way they treat homophobia in Australian football. They might be open to thinking differently if, for example, you shared a story about the impact that casual homophobic language has had on you. Storytelling is a powerful way to engage people with our ideas and can connect us to our listeners. For Jason, it’s a captivating way of talking to people about the issues impacting on the LGBTI community and equality more broadly. Hearing Jason’s story about coming out, homophobia in sport and its damaging impact, it’s easy to see just how powerful storytelling is especially in the LGBTI context.
Hold my avocado
Jason answered questions from the audience about being a millennial and what millennials are doing to create positive change. Millennials (frequently!) get a bad rap for eating too much avocado on toast and then complaining about not owning their own home. But wages have not increased by much compared to the meteoric rise of house prices. Meanwhile, millennials are finishing university with record amounts of debt, compared to the baby boomer generation, who had access to free university education.
In spite of these pressures, Jason believes millennials are optimistic. For many of us, we live in a society where the LGBTI community have been more accepted and loved, compared to previous generations. We are the first generation who will feel the impact of climate change, and the last to make sure the right policies are in place to have a lasting, positive impact. And we do good things. We advocate for LGBTI equality, we work hard to build diverse and inclusive communities, we push for gender equality, we use business as a force for good, and we are conscious of our environmental footprint. We do all this because we are optimistic about creating a socially conscious and inclusive future.
Today’s discussion again highlighted all the great work that advocates like Jason are doing to advance diversity and inclusion. It’s also a reminder about the role we all can play, as individuals and businesses, to promote a society that embraces equality and is free of discrimination.