Building an inclusive workplace this Wear it Purple Day

Everyone has the right to be proud of who they are and how they define themselves—at home and in the workplace.

That’s why the Department of Human Services is turning purple on Friday 31 August to celebrate Wear it Purple Day, which promotes safe and supportive environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) youth. 

With a workforce of over 35,000, it’s vital we celebrate diversity and ensure people feel supported to be authentic when they come to work.

One of the department’s unique staff members is Senior Project Officer Jason Armstrong, or as he’s known in the drag community, ‘River Styx’.

Jason Armstrong as his drag person, River Styx

After Jason came out five years ago, he discovered a love for the art of drag where he came to know other drag queens as part of the social scene.

“Wear it Purple Day is so important for LGBTI youth, who often feel isolated,” Jason said

“In transforming into River I’ve enjoyed a new-found confidence and freedom to express my individuality and creativity, which I bring with me to the office.

“I’ve had colleagues attend and love my drag show, and if this kind of support was around when I was a teenager, I may have come out earlier and felt a lot more comfortable in my own skin.”

Building a positive culture of LGBTI inclusion and diversity is a key priority for the department, supported at the highest levels.

Deputy Secretary Programme Design Catherine Rule is a shining example to staff that your sexuality won’t hold you back.

“Wearing purple sends a signal to others that you’re supported and that’s a really positive thing,” Catherine said.

“It builds the kind of workplace culture that we want, and recognises the kind of diversity that’s really important to us.”

Another staff member, Project Delivery Branch Director Jordan Sullivan feels inspired by department’s LGBTI leaders.

Jordan Sullivan (right) and his partner

“As a member of the LGBTI community, it shows me I have the same career progression opportunities as anyone else,” Jordan said.

“Many of us know a young person who is part of the LGBTI community and it’s important to let them know they aren’t alone.

“We can all work together to empower LGBTI youth to be who they are without fear.”

Department staff will be showing their support by wearing a touch of purple, decorating their workspaces or hosting local events across the country on 31 August. 

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