This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Taking The Creative Path Less Travelled With Graphic Designer + Not-For-Profit CEO, Micah Scott

Words From The Wise

The beauty of the creative fields is the myriad ways its skills and problem-solving are integral to non-creative work. Take Micah Scott, for example. The founding CEO of Australia’s first LGBTQIA+ youth organisation, Minus18 Foundation arrived at his career in the not-for-profit sector via training in design. What’s a key way to ensure your community engagement messaging is clear, effective and reaching the right audience ? Design!

In this instalment of our Words from The Wise series in partnership with Monash Art, Architecture + Design, recent graduate Kieran Medici talks to Micah about how training in design honed his communication skills, and how this led to a career at one of the country’s leading youth organisations.

Plus, get a squizz inside the brand new Victorian Pride Centre on Fitzroy Street in St Kilda – Melbourne’s hub for queer organisations and LGBTQIA+led events such as Joy Radio, Melbourne Queer Film Festival and, of course, Minus18. It’s amazing!

17th February, 2022

Recent graduate Kieran Medici (left) and Minus18 CEO Micah Scott (right) outside the new Victorian Pride Centre in St Kilda. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The rainbow flag flapping proudly in the wind from the roof of the Victorian Pride Centre. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Micah Scott – Monash University alum and CEO of organisation Minus18. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Micah and Kieran in the incredible atrium of the Victorian Pride Centre. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Minus18 supports LGBTQIA+ youth through mental health and wellbeing programs, social inclusion events, and education + advocacy campaigns. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Minus18 also provides training, education and digital campaign resources to community members around Australia. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘Design is a powerful tool in building connection and validity to what you’re communicating – and we implement this into our work to break down the stereotypes and biases we’ve developed,’ says Micah. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘I gave myself one year after graduation to volunteer almost full time for Minus18 while completing odd graphic design jobs for rent,’ says Micah of his trajectory out of uni. ‘Finally, at the end of 2011, I led the team to incorporate and create the Minus18 Foundation – the first national charity specifically for LGBTQIA+ youth, hosting events, inclusion training and awareness campaigns.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘A poster can lead to a conversation, which can lead to inclusion training, which can lead to a parent better understanding their LGBTQIA+ child,’ says Micah. ‘Every moment of work has a real life impact, and seeing this in action is just the best.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Kieran Medici
Thursday 17th February 2022

‘Design is a powerful tool in building connection… we implement this into our work to break down the stereotypes and biases we’ve developed.’ – Micah Scott

Design can take us down so many paths, some conventional and some unexpected. However, it is through design that we can drive impact. That is what founding CEO of LGBTQIA+ youth organisation Minus18 and Monash University alum, Micah Scott, set out to achieve upon completing his undergraduate degree in design.

Throughout his career, Micah has led positive social change particularly within the LGBTQIA+ community, drawing upon his creative background to create tangible pieces of communication that encourage a sense of understanding and belonging in the community.

As a recent graduate, I am now in a similar position Micah was in over 10 years ago – excited at the prospects of a future in design, but unsure of how that might take shape. So I asked Micah himself how he found his feet in the industry, and how he drives social change through his design work.

Hi Micah! Your work is so multifaceted, is the work you’re doing today what you imagined you would be doing when you were younger?

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a graphic designer. In high school, I would regularly create bits and pieces of design for fun; album covers for made-up bands, customised MySpace profiles for my friends, that sort of thing.

The process of design — taking an idea or concept and turning it into a tangible product that other people connect with — it really ignited a passion within me. It never felt like work and I was filled with excitement whenever I dreamed of the possibility of turning that passion into a career.

Did you learn any valuable lessons in your first job out of uni?

Growing up, my mum led the Sunday school at our church for over a decade. She did this entirely as a volunteer, and would rope me into designing certificates and banners for the other kids. The value of giving back to your community and volunteering your time was regularly instilled in me as part of this process.

I feel like this philosophy stuck with me in my trajectory throughout uni and beyond, as I volunteered at university and community organisations. None of these were explicitly graphic design related – but once I started I would see opportunities to offer my design experience. A sign, flyer, poster – anything really (and usually for free at first) slowly working up my confidence to navigate paid work.

This process really taught me to believe in myself and my work, which was fortunate as I certainly didn’t have that yet. The risks were low, I was allowed to make mistakes, and I was designing for people who I knew and understood.

How and why did you decide to work in the not-for profit sector?

The main organisation I dedicated my time to was Minus18 – a youth group holding underage events for queer teenagers. When I came to terms with my sexuality, Minus18 was the place I made my first queer friends – it truly changed my life being surrounded by others who accepted me during a time where I found it difficult to accept myself.

Volunteering at Minus18 seemed like a no brainer, and I soon became the lead volunteer while studying at Monash. In 2010, the final year of my degree, there was a lot of media attention surrounding high schools in Australia not allowing students to take same gender partners to their school formal or debutante ball.

Feeling heartbroken and frustrated, I led Australia’s first Queer Formal – an event for over 200 of these young people to have a high school formal experience, without fear of judgement or discrimination. The event grew bigger than I ever anticipated, sending posters and flyers to schools reminding them of their requirement to protect their students from discrimination.

What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever been given?

I remember sitting in class shortly after talking to Gene Bawden, the Head of Design, about my plans after graduation. Up until that point, it had never fully occurred to me that my degree in Design could translate into the not for profit sector. That conversation really opened my eyes to the fact that I could turn it into my career.

I thought I may as well give it a go, right? I gave myself one year after graduation to volunteer almost full time for Minus18 while completing odd graphic design jobs for rent. Finally, at the end of 2011, I led the team to incorporate and create the Minus18 Foundation – the first national charity specifically for LGBTQIA+ youth, hosting events, inclusion training and awareness campaigns.

Your career right now is not a traditional path out of a design degree. How does your background in design help with the work you do today?

Minus18’s mission is to create an Australia where LGBTQIA+ young people belong, and the only way we can truly do this is by connecting to hearts and minds across the country – young people, schools and families alike. How we have these conversations in a way that is accessible to different audiences, makes the apathetic feel connected, and breaks down stereotypes – that right there can be interpreted as a design and communication challenge. Design is a powerful tool in building connection and validity to what you’re communicating – and we implement this into our work to break down the stereotypes and biases we’ve developed.

The same is even more true for communicating directly with LGBTQIA+ people. Think about the portrayals of LGBTQIA+ young people in the media the past decade, especially trans and gender diverse people – there’s hardship, discrimination and sadness weaved into almost every story. While many of us experience this, we are more than our adversities.

To show that being LGBTQIA+ can be a journey of self-acceptance, joy and connection – especially to young people growing up in regional or remote areas – is in itself an act of revolution.

What professional challenges or hurdles have you experienced and how did you overcome them?

In the lead up to Marriage Equality in Australia, the vocal opposition to LGBTQIA+ inclusion became more mobilised and better funded – particularly towards transgender youth. The success and visibility of Minus18’s teacher resources, posters and digital support around the country caused us to become the target of attacks from those who disagreed with us.

When our message is so focused on positivity, community and creating a world where LGBTQIA+ young people know that they belong, I was naively shocked at how vicious and constant their attacks were.

Conservative politicians and lobbyists called us pedophiles (a tactic commonly used against our community), they threatened to protest our youth events and people showed up at our work unannounced to harass me. But it’s our community of supporters – the teachers, workplaces and families – all over the country that got me and the team through it. They shared messages of support and even turned up to events to shield our young people against conservative protesters (who, for the record, never had the courage to show up).

Do you have any advice for emerging graduates?

The scary thing about starting out is building confidence in your work and ideas. The catch 22 is that it’s difficult to build your confidence without trying – and trying means giving ideas a go that don’t work out – sometimes spectacularly. Community work is such a great way to try something new and build that confidence or experience as you go. If there’s a cause that ignites your passion, put your hand up, and give it a shot. You might just find your new career.

What excites you the most about the work you do?

There’s something incredibly special about working with a school or a workplace and seeing their transformation unfold. A poster can lead to a conversation, which can lead to inclusion training, which can lead to a parent better understanding their LGBTQIA+ child.

Every moment of work has a real life impact, and seeing this in action is just the best.

Kieran Medici is a graduate of Bachelor of Communication Design at Monash Art, Architecture + Design. Learn more about the course here.

Micah Scott completed a Bachelor of Visual Communications at Monash University in 2010. You can learn more about Minus18 and the work they do here.

This Week

Creative People

How Powerhouse Designer, Yuwaalaraay Woman Lucy Simpson Is Making Waves

How the Sydney based designer weaves stories of Country and culture into her collaborations with leading brands, such as JAG and Breville.
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Homes

An Owner-Designed Renovation Of A 1970s South Yarra Apartment

How designers Lola Digby-Diercks and Sebastian Owen completely transformed their South Yarra apartment in just six months.

Sustainable Homes

An Off-Grid, Modern Country Farmhouse In Regional Victoria

Step inside a newly built farmhouse that's fully off the grid, with all the classic features of an old country home.
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Local Artist Hannah Maskell Creates Mesmerising Grids Of Colour

The Melbourne-based artist's geometric drawings and wooden sculptures are a cross between 'colour theory and colour therapy'.
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Dani McKenzie’s Detailed Paintings Look Like Familiar Photographs

The Melbourne artist recreates local streetscapes and everyday scenes, filled with intimate reminders of our own inner-worlds.
Christina Karras

Homes

A Quirky Redfern Terrace With A Hidden Green Roof

The unconventional family home of designer Sacha Coles, split over 4 levels!
Lucy Feagins
  23 hours ago

Architecture

An Unconventional Beach House Elevated On Steel

Steel beams elevate AB House by Office MI—JI to form an unconventional beach house in Barwon Heads.

Shopping

Shop The Chunky, Colourful Furniture You’ve Seen All Over The Internet

Meet the tradie brothers behind FEARON, who have been making quirky, must-have furniture that blends fun with functionality!
Christina Karras

Interiors

Before + After: A Dated Brick Home Turned Coastal Holiday Pad

Dark timber and dated tiles have been replaced with light and bright interiors in this Mornington Peninsula beach house.
Christina Karras

Art

9 Unmissable Exhibitions To See In 2023!

From NGV's Alexander McQueen exhibition, to a showcase of Frida Kahlo's works, here are the must-see exhibitions of the coming year.
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Brazilian-Inspired Update Of A 1920s Brisbane Cottage

Bowen by Shaun Lockyer Architects elevates a 1920s cottage with a stunning renovation and addition.

Gardens

A Lush Secret Garden, Inside A Converted Melbourne Church!

This surprising garden in East Melbourne has its own lagoon pool, a natural fish pond and 10m-tall walls covered in ivy.
Christina Karras

On The Market

A Rare Robin Boyd House Is Available To Rent

You could be the next tenant of this house, designed by Australia's most famous architect.

Creative People

The New Small Business Making Mid-Century-Inspired Furniture In Australia

Culture Cush are making velvet-covered modular lounges inspired by retro designs, with the best materials of today!
Christina Karras
  15 hours ago

Food

Julia's Crunchy Crumbed Fish With Cos Salad + Yoghurt Tartare

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's delicious take on a classic summer fish dinner – on high rotation for the rest of the season!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Similar Stories

Words From The Wise

Pushing Against The Status Quo As A Creative Professional, With Designer Timothy Moore

Sibling Architecture director and co-founder Timothy Moore shares refreshing advice about embarking on a career in architecture and design -...
Haroula Karapanagiotidis

Words From The Wise

Finding Your Groove In A Creative Career With Artist + Professor Callum Morton

Renowned artist Callum Morton's brilliant wisdom for emerging artists and creatives - in partnership with Monash University.
Grace Slonim

Words From The Wise

Chelsea Hing's Pearls of Wisdom On Building A Successful Career in Interior Design

Words from the Wise is a new series of career inspo from Australia’s leading creative makers, thinkers and professional practitioners -
Megan Phillips

This Week

Creative People

The New Small Business Making Mid-Century-Inspired Furniture In Australia

Culture Cush are making velvet-covered modular lounges inspired by retro designs, with the best materials of today!
Christina Karras
  15 hours ago

Studio Visit

Dani McKenzie’s Detailed Paintings Look Like Familiar Photographs

The Melbourne artist recreates local streetscapes and everyday scenes, filled with intimate reminders of our own inner-worlds.
Christina Karras

On The Market

A Rare Robin Boyd House Is Available To Rent

You could be the next tenant of this house, designed by Australia's most famous architect.

Homes

A Quirky Redfern Terrace With A Hidden Green Roof

The unconventional family home of designer Sacha Coles, split over 4 levels!
Lucy Feagins
  23 hours ago

Architecture

An Unconventional Beach House Elevated On Steel

Steel beams elevate AB House by Office MI—JI to form an unconventional beach house in Barwon Heads.

Gardens

A Lush Secret Garden, Inside A Converted Melbourne Church!

This surprising garden in East Melbourne has its own lagoon pool, a natural fish pond and 10m-tall walls covered in ivy.
Christina Karras

Homes

An Owner-Designed Renovation Of A 1970s South Yarra Apartment

How designers Lola Digby-Diercks and Sebastian Owen completely transformed their South Yarra apartment in just six months.

Creative People

How Powerhouse Designer, Yuwaalaraay Woman Lucy Simpson Is Making Waves

How the Sydney based designer weaves stories of Country and culture into her collaborations with leading brands, such as JAG and Breville.
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Interiors

Before + After: A Dated Brick Home Turned Coastal Holiday Pad

Dark timber and dated tiles have been replaced with light and bright interiors in this Mornington Peninsula beach house.
Christina Karras

Art

9 Unmissable Exhibitions To See In 2023!

From NGV's Alexander McQueen exhibition, to a showcase of Frida Kahlo's works, here are the must-see exhibitions of the coming year.
Christina Karras

Sustainable Homes

An Off-Grid, Modern Country Farmhouse In Regional Victoria

Step inside a newly built farmhouse that's fully off the grid, with all the classic features of an old country home.
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Local Artist Hannah Maskell Creates Mesmerising Grids Of Colour

The Melbourne-based artist's geometric drawings and wooden sculptures are a cross between 'colour theory and colour therapy'.
Christina Karras

Food

Julia's Crunchy Crumbed Fish With Cos Salad + Yoghurt Tartare

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's delicious take on a classic summer fish dinner – on high rotation for the rest of the season!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Architecture

A Brazilian-Inspired Update Of A 1920s Brisbane Cottage

Bowen by Shaun Lockyer Architects elevates a 1920s cottage with a stunning renovation and addition.

Shopping

Shop The Chunky, Colourful Furniture You’ve Seen All Over The Internet

Meet the tradie brothers behind FEARON, who have been making quirky, must-have furniture that blends fun with functionality!
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Words From The Wise

Pushing Against The Status Quo As A Creative Professional, With Designer Timothy Moore

Sibling Architecture director and co-founder Timothy Moore shares refreshing advice about embarking on a career in architecture and design.
Haroula Karapanagiotidis

Words From The Wise

Finding Your Groove In A Creative Career With Artist + Professor Callum Morton

Renowned artist Callum Morton's brilliant wisdom for emerging creatives - in partnership with Monash University.
Grace Slonim

Words From The Wise

Chelsea Hing's Pearls of Wisdom On Building A Successful Career in Interior Design

Words from the Wise is a new series of career inspo from Australia’s leading creative makers, thinkers and professional practitioners -
Megan Phillips

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net