Stella Young to be memorialised in Stawell

Northern Grampians Shire Council is delighted to announce that the late Disability Advocate and former Stawell resident Ms Stella Young will have a statue designed in her honour in Stawell by the end of this year. The Victorian Government notified Council this week of their successful application in the Victorian Women’s Public Art Program and is providing Council with a $200,000 grant to put towards the artwork; Council has co-contributed $50,000.

Stella Young passed away unexpectedly at the age of 32 on 6 December 2014. She was born in Stawell in 1982 and studied Journalism at Deakin University. She is globally recognised as a comedian, journalist and disability advocate. Stella worked for ABC as the editor of an online magazine called “Ramp Up”. She was a member of the Victorian Disability Advisory Council and hosted eight seasons of “No Limits” – a Channel 31 television show that gave people with disabilities a voice in the media and control over their creative content.

The Victorian Women’s Public Art Program is a new State Government initiative to address the gender inequity that exists in the arts and acknowledge that “women have played a critical role in the economic, social and cultural development of Victoria”. An audit of public figure statues in Victoria found that only 9 out of 580 statues were female. Through the program women artists will be prioritised to create statues that address female under-representation in public artwork, highlight the contribution of women from all backgrounds and raise the profile of women artists in Victoria.

On the unveiling of the program’s successful applicants, Minister for Women Gabrielle Williams said that for far too long, women have been under-represented in public places.

“The program is a step in the right direction and will ensure that there are lasting monuments that celebrate the remarkable achievements of Victorian women.

“You can’t be what you can’t see. Our public spaces should accurately reflect the diversity of Victoria.”

Council will consult with Stella Young’s family to finalise a brief for the statue with a view to having it completed by October. Council is planning to first install the statue in the newly created pop-up park in Main Street Stawell which has been designed with universally accessible features. It is anticipated that an official community unveiling of the statue will occur in November and any decision on the statue’s permanent location will be subject to the outcome of community engagement and the wishes of Stella’s family.

Northern Grampians Shire Council Mayor Cr Tony Driscoll said this program is an important step forward in addressing the gender imbalance in the arts and in the public environment and a fitting tribute to Stella’s achievements.

“It is wonderful to see the Victorian Government making a strong statement to the community about gender equality by creating a program that aims to address this imbalance in the arts sector and through public art where it will be seen by everyone,” said Cr Driscoll.

“We are thankful and proud to be a recipient of this funding; Stella left an indelible imprint on many people’s lives and her statue will be a fitting memorial of her achievements and her contribution to society.

“She was a truly remarkable woman who never let her disability get in the way of what she wanted to achieve and ultimately, she achieved more than most people could imagine for her 32 young years.”

I am not a snowflake. I am not a sweet, infantilising symbol of fragility and life. I am a strong, fierce, flawed adult woman. I plan to remain that way, in life and in death.

Stella Young

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