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Transgender rights advocate and Neighbours star named Young Melburnian of the Year

18 December 2023

Actor and transgender rights advocate Georgie Stone OAM has been named the inaugural Young Melburnian of the Year in the City of Melbourne’s prestigious Melbourne Awards.

Georgie is a passionate advocate for transgender young people, her moving journey including a landmark case in the Family Court of Australia that helped change the law around access to medical treatment.

She is also known for her role as Mackenzie Hargreaves in Neighbours. As the first trans actor to star in the iconic drama, Georgie has brought positive representation of young trans people to audiences in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Georgie’s many accolades include the GLOBE GLBTI Person of the Year, the Young People’s Human Rights Medal, the Young Voltaire Award, the Victorian Young Australian of the Year, the Australian LGBTI Hero of the Year and the Medal of the Order of Australia.

And now the self-professed “proud Melburnian” is the Young Melburnian of the Year. But before her time in the limelight, Georgie’s remarkable story began amid a supportive family.

“I was a very lucky kid – I was born to two parents who were actors. I have a twin brother, Harry,” Georgie said.

“My childhood years were very much made up of playing, and storytelling, and imagining worlds and characters. And we’d make a lot of short films. It was a really beautiful childhood.

“I think the first time I noticed the difference between the way I saw myself and the way other people saw me was once I started primary school, because that’s when the very gendered, very binary aspects came into play.”

Medical treatment for transgender young people involves two stages of treatment, and Georgie’s family – like so many others – had to apply to to the Family Court of Victoria on both occasions.

“Trying to obtain permission to commence both stage one and stage two treatment was quite difficult because I had to go to court both times,” Georgie said.

“Having strangers, complete strangers, have the power to make decisions over my body was incredibly scary and it made me feel very powerless and like I didn’t have any agency over my body and over my life.”

“So to be there, in the court room, as the decision was handed down that I was mature enough to consent to my own treatment. That was really wonderful and an absolute relief.”

But alongside the relief, there was anger. Georgie said the difficult journey had “lit a fire” under her.

“That anger didn’t go away after the decision was handed down and I think that’s why I started advocacy after that, and started telling my story,” Georgie said.

“That anger at having had to justify my existence for the millionth time just made me go: enough is enough, things need to change and no other family should have to go through that vicious court process.”

Georgie with Melburnian of the Year Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM

Alongside this journey, there was a dream. A dream to follow in her parents footsteps as an actor.

“My experience on Neighbours has been so cool, so much fun. It was such a steep learning curve but it was so incredibly rewarding and has definitely confirmed for me that acting is what I love,” Georgie said.

“I think positive, accurate, respectful trans representation is life-saving.”

Georgie hopes that her lived experiences and advocacy will help ease the journey for other trans people.

“My hope for the future is that the trans people who come after me don’t have to fight so hard. I know they’ll have to fight, but I hope they don’t have to fight so hard,” Georgie said.

“I hope we have generations of trans, gender-diverse, non-binary people, generations of queer people, who can just live their lives. And live with dignity and respect, doing the things they love, doing the things they are passionate about, safely. That’s what I hope, and I hope I get to do that too.”

Meet more Melbourne Award winners

The Melbourne Awards are the City of Melbourne’s highest accolades, celebrating the inspirational Melburnians who dedicate their time and energy to making this city a world leader. The awards program is now in its 21st year.

This year, winners were named in eight categories, representing the many and diverse programs and organisations that help make Melbourne a thriving, forward-thinking capital city.

Alongside Young Melburnian of the Year Georgie Stone OAM, we also named a Melburnian of the Year, and eight category winners. Read on to see videos of them sharing their stories in their own words.

Melburnian of the Year

Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM, CEO of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Be part of building a more compassionate Australia, where everyone has a seat at the table, inspired by Melburnian of the Year Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM. From a Greek-Australian child experiencing racism in a country town to CEO and founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Kon has turned trauma into action that positively impacts countless lives.

To learn more about Kon’s inspirational journey, read Leading with love: asylum seeker advocate named Melburnian of the Year.

Category winners

Aboriginal Melbourne – ganbu guljin* Award
The Long Walk

​​​​​​​​​In 2004, AFL legend Michael Long completed a historic trek from Melbourne to Parliament House in Canberra to raise awareness about the challenge First Nations people face. From this feat, the Long Walk charity was born, which unites and educates Australian through a wide range of events and programs.

*ganbu guljin means “one mob” in Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung language

Access and Inclusion Award
Mojo Festival

​​​​​​Mojo Festival is an extravaganza of creativity and community honouring World Schizophrenia Day. Presented by Schizy Inc, an organisation on a mission to make the arts more accessible, Mojo showcases some of the best new stand-up comedy, theatre, music, dance, visual art and literature from artists with lived experience of complex mental health.

City Design Award
Victorian Family Violence Memorial

​​The Family Violence Memorial is a landscaped garden that honours victims and survivors of family violence on the corner of St Andrews Place and Lansdowne Street. The garden features include purple flowers that bloom all year – symbolic of the global movement to end family violence – and a smoking vessel that recognises the cultural significance of the site. ​

Arts and Events​​ Award
APHIDS

Collaborative and future-focused, APHIDS works with people inside and outside of the art world to bring attention to urgent social, political and cultural concerns. Over their almost 30-year history, the experimental, artist-led organisation has created over 85 new works, resulting in 175 presentations across Australia and the world. ​

Community Award
The Living Room

​​Powered by Youth Projects, The Living Room is a primary health service that provides free healthcare and support service to improve the physical, mental and social well-being of people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. A unique place that makes people feel welcome and respected, The Living Room also offers practical essentials such as clothing and showers.

Knowledge and Innovation Award
Auslan Education Services

Now in its second year, the Auslan Education Services is running programs in more than 100 primary schools. This gives students and teachers the opportunity to learn Auslan, and helps to bridge the gap between hearing and deaf people in our community. ​Programs are specifically tailored for school-age groups and foster whole-school participation.

LGBTIQA+ Award
Melbourne Sexual Health Centre

A public clinic delivering world-class clinical services such as sexual health and STI testing, diagnosis and treatment services. Located in Melbourne but serving people across Victoria, the ​​​Melbourne Sexual Health Centre team provides professional and non-judgmental clinical care to ensure that the LGBTIQA+ community always feel welcomed and supported.

Sustainability Award
RCYCL

​Passionate about tackling the textile pollution problem, RCYCL provides a direct-to-consumer return satchel that allows people to easily recycle their used clothing at the end of its life cycle. The service creates an immediate impact on the environment and contributes to a circular economy. The team works with textile experts, retailers and brand partners to further its cause.

More about the Melbourne Awards

Winners of the Melbourne Awards are recognised as inspirational leaders creating positive change in Melbourne.

Through the awards, the winners establish relationships with prominent business leaders in Melbourne, many of whom often become ambassadors for the inspiring achievements and projects they witness.

The winners also receive valuable feedback and advice from a wide range of industry experts.

For more information, visit Melbourne Awards.

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