AFLW star Tayla Harris has been named Victoria’s Young Australian of the Year for 2021 in recognition of her off-field advocacy for preventing violence against women and gender-based online abuse.
The recognition of the 23-year-old comes after a photograph of her kicking a football became the target of sexualised and gendered online trolling in 2019. Her response to the online abuse was courageous from the outset, and she’s continued to use her voice to fight online abuse and violence against women.
Harris is now an official ambassador for Our Watch, a not-for-profit national organisation working to prevent violence against women, and she plays a lead role in Carlton’s respectful relationship program, an initiative that works to promote gender equality in schools and workplaces.
She’s also co-authored a book, More Than a Kick, detailing her experience of online abuse and providing advice to other young people on how to navigate social media, online bullying and trolling.
On top of her AFLW career as a forward for Carlton, Harris is also an elite boxing champion, holding the Australian super welterweight title. She is undefeated in eight professional fights.
Honoured to be considered! Tune in tonight to watch the virtual awards 🥂 https://t.co/c8CYIxx02l— Tayla Harris (@tayla_harris7) October 27, 2020
“We are incredibly proud of Tayla for not only raising the alarm on the tirade of sexualised and demeaning online abuse she copped as an athlete but for standing up for other young women who don’t have a platform,” Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly said.
Carlton CEO Cain Liddle said the AFL club is extremely proud of Harris for her continuing work on and off the field.
“She is a driven, authentic and passionate person who not only understands her responsibility as a role model, but embraces it also,” Liddle said.
“Tayla has had to endure some pretty horrific experiences online and it is a testament to who she is as a person that she has used those experiences as motivation to influence positive change within society.
“Our football club is proud of our Carlton Respects program and Tayla’s work within it has seen Carlton Respects begin to grow into the most influential gender equality program in Australian sport.”
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
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