Leading South West disability advocate Ben Aldridge’s praise for Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott

Headshot of Jackson Barrett
Jackson BarrettSouth Western Times
Ben Aldridge had high praise for Australian of the Year winner Dylan Alcott
Camera IconBen Aldridge had high praise for Australian of the Year winner Dylan Alcott Credit: MICK TSIKAS;`

“You can’t be what you can’t see”.

That’s the reason a leading South West advocate believes retiring tennis legend and new Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott will be a game-changer for the country’s disability community.

Ben Aldridge, owner of disability advocacy and education business 30 Foot Drop and Shire of Capel Citizen of the Year believes visibility is crucial in the disability community’s fight for equal opportunity.

Alcott, a tennis champion, former Paralympic wheelchair basketballer, radio host and TV personality, was presented the award at the annual ceremony in Canberra on the eve of Australia Day, just hours before he won an Australian Open semifinal in Melbourne.

“We’re being recognised as equal and as worthy of attaining one of the highest honours in Australia, and that in itself is huge,” he said.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 28: The career of Dylan Alcott is celebrated on Rod Laver Arena ahead of the Men?s Singles semi-final match between Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and Daniil Medvedev of Russia during day 12 of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 28, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
Camera IconMELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 28: The career of Dylan Alcott is celebrated on Rod Laver Arena ahead of the Men?s Singles semi-final match between Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and Daniil Medvedev of Russia during day 12 of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 28, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images) Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

“Having people that you can look up to, that you can follow, that you can see have made it — that’s what it means.”

Mr Aldridge said Alcott, who takes over as Australian of the Year from domestic violence campaigner Grace Tame, is likely to use his platform as recipient to continue his work in the disability employment space.

“He has got an amazing opportunity and I am really excited to see what he does with it,” he said.

“He has been big on disability employment so he is probably going to be going hard on that angle, which is great, and if by the end of his tenure, he has made a change to how readily society gives people with disabilities a fair go – he has done his job and he should be proud of that.”

Bush Legends. Ben Aldridge with son Logan 8yo on the playground at the Busselton foreshore. Founder and operator of business 30 Foot Drop in Capel. Picture Jackson Flindell The West Australian
Camera IconBush Legends. Ben Aldridge with son Logan 8yo on the playground at the Busselton foreshore. Founder and operator of business 30 Foot Drop in Capel. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian, Jackson Flindell The West Australian

Last week, Mr Aldridge was the recipient of the Shire of Capel’s Citizen of the Year award for his work encouraging young people living with a disability to become leaders in the community.

He is also continuing to run Empowered Leadership programs around the South West, including a two-week course in March.

“We have seen some amazing results, it is a great place for people to start building their skills if they want to make a change,” Mr Aldridge said.

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