Tributes after death of footy player and HIV advocate Matt Hall

Queensland Positive People pays tribute to Matt Hall
Image: courtesy of Queensland Positive People

Former Aussie Rules football player Matt Hall has been remembered as a “passionate and devoted” advocate for Australians with HIV after the Queenslander died this week.

Queensland Positive People announced the death of Matt, their longtime member and former President, in an online tribute.

“On behalf of QPP, its staff and friends we are deeply saddened by the news of Matthew Hall’s sudden passing [on Monday night],” the group said.

Growing up in Melbourne, Matt loved sport, including both basketball and Australian Rules football.

In 1997, not long after being diagnosed with HIV at age 23, Matt attempted to register for the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA).

But VAFA denied his application because of Matt’s HIV-positive status. He was banned from competing in the sport he loved.

With the help of HIV specialists, Matt Hall would successfully fight the discriminatory ruling.

“By 1999, he had won, winning the hearts, and changing the minds of the football loving Victorians along the way,” QPP said.

“The changes to the ‘blood rule’ that occurred due to Matt’s case, are a legacy not just for AFL, but to many sporting codes throughout the world.”

Matt Hall lived in Queensland and fought stigma and injustice

Twenty years ago, Matt Hall moved to Queensland and lived on the Gold Coast.

“His positive impact on the HIV community continued here too,” QPP said.

“He was always working to eliminate stigma and confront injustice where he found it, whilst supporting those in need.”

Matt Hall served in multiple roles for QPP, including President.

He was also a Beyondblue ambassador and worked for a time as a crisis counsellor for Lifeline.

In 2018, he worked on inclusion initiatives for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

“His impact on QPP and our community is profound,” QPP said in the tribute.

“Our thoughts are with Matt’s family, friends, and colleagues at this difficult time. He’ll be greatly missed by all of us at QPP.”

Health Equity Matters CEO Darryl O’Donnell also paid tribute to Matt and his years of work as an advocate.

“I had the privilege of supporting Matt when he took on the VAFA. It was an incredibly brave thing to do,” O’Donnell wrote on Facebook.

“He also spoke out on The Footy Show, which covered his story well. Sending my thoughts to his family and friends.”

‘Stand up against ignorance and discrimination’

In 2018, Matt Hall shared his story as part of a QPP campaign tackling HIV stigma.

“With the advances in science and medication, HIV is a manageable chronic health condition,” Matt said at the time.

“The messages I’d give is to stand up against ignorance and discrimination. Call it out for what it is.

“We need to provide strength and resilience to those that may have been on the receiving end of HIV stigma and discrimination, and let them know they’re not alone.”

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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