GREG Hire said he was humbled to win the youth category at the 2018 Western Australian of the Year Awards on Friday.
The former Joondalup Wolves star and current Perth Wildcats vice captain was recognised for his several projects, charities and initiatives to combat mental illness and youth suicide.
His advocacy work has been undertaken through the National Basketball League, his own community networks and his charity A Stitch in Time, which aims to encourage resilience among young people through sport, mentoring and community workshops.
Founded in 2014, A Stitch in Time’s programs are implemented through partnerships with schools and sporting associations, with a strong focus on supporting at-risk youths.
In a recent partnering with Binar Sports, the charity also created an elite athlete pathway to include not only physical development but mental and social wellbeing.
Hire is also an ambassador for Youth Focus and has been awarded a Pride of Australia medal after he was commended for saving the lives of two young people through his charity work.
The Edgewater resident said being recognised as a Western Australian of the Year was “very memorable”.
“The last few days have been incredible, humbling and an absolute whirlwind,” he said.
“Whilst I was extremely proud to have been acknowledged for the work A Stitch in Time does, the most important thing for me was to be able to stand in front of the Premier of WA, parliamentarians, former Western Australians of the Year and other category winners, in a room full of people, and challenge their thoughts, bring awareness into our objectives and re-emphasise the importance of mental health and suicide prevention.
“Too many lives have been lost already to suicide.
“Actions need to be implemented and whilst we have so far to go, Friday night was a continuation of something that I think will make a difference.”
He said he had received many messages of support and thanked everyone for their “kind words” as well as those who have “reached out, shared your story, asked for support, sought out guidance and created a conversation”.
He also recognised the other finalists in the youth category – Shelley Cable, Luke Hallam, Zal Kanga-Parabia and Sam Moyle – for their “absolutely outstanding” work.
“It was an honour to share that category with them and… I look forward to collaborating with them in the future,” he said.
Curtin University professor Mike Daube, best known for his work against tobacco, was named the overall 2018 Western Australian of the Year after winning the community category.
Other winners were Gail Allison (Aboriginal Award), Janet Holmes A Court (Arts and Culture Award), Diane Smith-Gander (Business Award), James Trevelyan (Professions Award) and Ron Alexander (Sport Award).