Reflecting on the importance of a safe and inclusive workplace

The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) commemorates the 1990 World Health Organisation decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

Celebrated each year on 17 May, the day aims to highlight the prejudice faced by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people across the world.

The Department of Human Services is committed to providing a safe and inclusive workplace, and has developed a Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Strategy which ensures equal opportunity, workplace inclusion, and support for all staff, including those who identify as LGBTI.

The department also maintains corporate memberships with relevant peak bodies, such as Pride in Diversity, to help build LGBTI confidence across the organisation.

A member of the department’s LGBTI Network, Adrian Ranieri reflects on the importance of IDAHOT.

“Discrimination towards LGBTI people is still a reality for many people on a daily basis,” Adrian said.

“It will only be by talking about it and sharing experiences that the broader community can reach an understanding of what some LGBTI people go through – just by being who they are.

“This understanding will lead to acceptance and once this is achieved, we can truly put an end to this type of discrimination. IDAHOT puts this issue firmly in the public spotlight and that’s why it’s such an important day.”

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission , over 85 per cent of the LGBTI community in New South Wales have experienced abuse, harassment or violence in their lifetime.

While 80 per cent of people in same-sex relationships in Victoria have experienced public insult – with 13 per cent experiencing physical assault.

“The figures surrounding LGBTI discrimination and prejudice are astounding,” Adrian said.

“Almost every person I know in the LGBTI community has experienced it in some form – whether it’s a comment here or there by an ignorant stranger or physical violence. It’s honestly heartbreaking.

“Personally, I’ve been verbally abused on more than one occasion by people who know nothing about me. It’s one of the reasons many LGBTI people don’t feel comfortable showing affection in public.”

Despite these statistics, Adrian believes the department is an LGBTI safe workplace.

“For LGBTI people, every time you meet someone new or start a new job it’s scary because you must make the choice to ‘come out’ to them or not,” Adrian said.

“You never know how that is going to be received, whether people will accept you or if it will damage working relationships – or even your career.

“Information on where to get support in the department was easy to find. I discovered there was an Ethics, Values and Diversity team in the department, as well as the LGBTI Network, confirming a commitment to a safe and inclusive workplace.”

The department  has an LGBTI inclusion training course which is regularly updated and added to which helps staff and managers understand why LGBTI inclusion is so important.

“I always encourage staff to complete this online course, which was developed with input from the LGTBI Network,” Adrian said.

“Being able to be myself at work and not having to hide aspects of who I am is truly a great thing.”

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