Alistair Ott is a proud Wirajiri, non-binary, queer brotherboy, advocating for LGBTQIA+ communities across Canberra.
They’re also the winner of the Standout Student category at the inaugural Out for Australia’s 30 Under 30 Awards.
Alistair was recognised for their significant academic achievements, as well as their work increasing visibility of and improving the lives of LGBTQIA+ students.
“This was very unexpected, I feel very honoured,” they said.
“I was sitting with all the other amazing awardees, I was so inspired by all the hard work we’re doing, so when my name was called it was very cool.”
The flagship awards night was held in Sydney on 6 October, recognising young professionals, activists, pride organisation leaders, advocates and students.
Alistair recently completed their undergraduate double degree at the University of Canberra, focusing their honours work on Kinship and Found Family in Queer YA Literature.
They are the engagement coordinator with A Gender Agenda in Canberra, and also volunteers with local youth groups, participates on panels surrounding LGBTQIA+ topics and issues, and gives their time to DEiFY, a BIPOC LGBTQIA+ collective.
Alistair said while awareness of and access to support services for diverse peoples had improved since they were a teenager, there was still a way to go.
“We still have a community in crisis,” they said.
“There’s still marginalisation and stigma which continues today, and I’m fighting against that, and also putting forward hope for better support and access to protect our community.”
They said gender-diverse and queer people still faced struggles in day-to-day life, such as access to appropriate public bathrooms, harassment in the workplace and being misgendered.
Alistair also noted many LGBTQIA+ spaces were still ”white-centric”, which was an area that needed improvement.
“Especially here in Australia, we stand on the shoulders of our amazing First Nations peoples and we’re such a multi-cultural society,” they said.
“Many spaces need to understand the layers they might be leaving out.”
They said this recognition made them feel more “solidified” in their activism.
“I’m starting my PhD looking to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander queer people,” Alistair said.
“Having this award allows me to stand very confidently and lets me know people believe in me as I continue this work.”
Studying, working and volunteering required a lot of energy, but Alistair said hearing the stories of people both directly and indirectly impacted by their work gave them the drive to keep going.
“It’s all about bringing everyone along for the ride,” they said.
“Our community is so strong and proud in their own right, along with the allies who support us.”
For those LGBTQIA+ people who were yet to reach out and join the community, Alistair had this advice:
“You can feel very alone sometimes, like you are isolated and the only one dealing with stress and discrimination and harassment.
“But there’s such a huge community out here and we’re ready to give back, you can be part of something lovely and wholesome.”
Alistair said it was easy to reach out and find the support you needed, even if you felt uncomfortable or unsafe.
“It can be really scary … but you don’t have to run into the community and get fully involved, you can step your toes in online or line up a one-on-one chat with someone from A Gender Agenda, you can do things on your own terms,” they said.
Alistair also had a message for allies looking for ways to help: “Shut up and listen.”
“Listen to all the amazing people putting their time and energy into resources, presentations and workshops, there’s easy access to community-led information that’s intersectional, that includes people of colour and diverse people,” they said.
“We are a very diverse group of people, so listen to all of our experiences.”