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MercyCare Oration 2019: Diversity and Inclusion

26 September 2019

Diversity and Inclusion was centre stage at MercyCare’s Oration 2019 as more than 550 people were enthralled by sporting legend and disability advocate Dylan Alcott OAM.

Held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on September 23, the audience was captivated by Dylan’s remarkable story. 

“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,” MercyCare CEO Anthony 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.”

Anthony presented 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.

The fine art portraits showcased on the night were captured by 2018 AIPP Australian Portrait Photographer of the Year Steve Wise.

“These beautiful portraits and stories show what diversity and inclusion look like to us. This is how the richness of other people’s experiences enrich us,” Anthony said.

“These ordinary, yet extraordinary, people’s stories show how they are individually effecting change for themselves and the people around them.”

Dylan Alcott was born with a tumour on his spine. Operations to remove it left him a paraplegic. Backed by an incredible family, Dylan’s fighting spirit came to the fore as a young teenager as he became the catalyst for his own change.

Dylan has 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.

Dylan’s message to be bold, have passion, purpose and a positive perception and to become the best version of yourself was taken to heart by the enraptured audience.

Along with business, government and not-for-profit leaders, many of the portrait participants attended and were moved by the Art Collection and Dylan’s words.

Migrant Community Support Services Administration Officer and portrait participant Katalina Lavaka connected deeply with Dylan's words.

“Dylan and I are the same age and we both live with a physical disability. I was moved by his story, inspired and empowered by his triumphs over struggles, and motivated by his accomplishments and success,” Katalina said.

“Dylan has proved to me that it is your choice to change your mind, heart and life into something good and positive.

“I walked away from Dylan’s Oration having learned a lot about myself from Dylan’s story. He is right, who can better communicate and orchestrate the needs of people with disabilities than a person with a disability?

“Dylan showed me that it is possible to achieve your goals and dreams, even with barriers and disadvantages. If your goals are out of reach, then build a bridge.

“I believe in Dylan’s dream and he has inspired me to pick up my goals and dreams where I left them after I lost my sight.

“Now, I am working on my diploma in community services and applying for a scholarship to start my degree in social science and social justice law. I want to actively advocate and support people with disabilities and help them achieve their aspirations.

“I am also working on my book and looking at singing again. I am grateful that MercyCare gave me an opportunity to work and to do what I love again.”

At MercyCare we will continue to strive for Diversity and Inclusion and continue the conversation from Oration 2019.

Our wonderful Art Collection will be toured to high-profile public and business places to further the conversation around Diversity and Inclusion.

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