Nicky Bell’s own struggles as a queer youth growing up in regional Victoria motivated her to become Services Australia’s Senior Executive LGBTI+ Ally.
This Wear it Purple Day Nicky hopes to raise awareness of the issues facing queer youth in rural and regional Australia.
“I grew up in a really small country town and went to primary school with 70 children and high school with 300 children,” Nicky said.
“Being regional, it can be really hard as there’s not a lot of people that you know are in the same boat as you. It was really a lonely time and it came with a lot of challenges.”
Nicky said being Services Australia’s LGBTI+ ally means being an active supporter and friend of the LGBTI+ community.
“I want staff and customers to know they are safe to be themselves here,” Nicky said.
“I want to work with our staff and customers to find ways to improve that sense of support and acceptance.”
Nicky relished the opportunity to join Services Australia, and says things have changed during the span of her career.
“It was a really different world at the time I joined Services Australia 21 years ago. I wasn’t out in the workplace. I referred to my partner as my roommate,” Nicky said.
The Australian Workplace Equality Index are the national benchmark on LGBTI+ workplace inclusion, and this year they awarded Services Australia Gold Employer status for the second time.
Nicky said the agency supporting Wear It Purple provides an opportunity for allies to actively take steps and be visible in the workplace and the community.
Wear It Purple is a movement which seeks to create supportive and inclusive environments for rainbow youth, with the message ‘Everyone has the right to be proud of who they are’.
“It’s actually an opportunity to recognise past struggles and how we’re coming together now in a supportive environment and letting current and future generations know they are welcome here,” Nicky said.
“The theme of ‘just as you are’ in this year’s Wear It Purple artwork is a powerful message that closely aligns with my LGBTI+ Ally role. We welcome you, just as you are and we really embrace that diversity at Services Australia.”
Nicky has some important advice to LGBTI+ youth.
“Hang in there, it does get better! And find the networks that will support you. Whether that’s at school, outside hobbies or family,” Nicky said.
“Look online for support and connection. You are not alone.”
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