The Department of Human Services celebrates diversity among its 35,000 staff, reflecting the diversity of the Australian community.
But differences can sometimes trigger discrimination, which is why the department is championing inclusiveness on 17 May, International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).
Jen Rufati, General Manager, Smart Centres, Indigenous and Intensive Servicing, is the department’s lesbian, gay, bi and trans and intersex (LGBTI) champion, who represents the needs of LGBTI staff across the department and promotes greater visibility and awareness of LGBTI inclusion.
“IDAHOBIT is an important day – a day to raise awareness of the discrimination the community still faces globally,” Jen said.
“We are one of the largest Australian Government agencies employing more than 35,000 staff across the country, so it’s important that it is a place of work that’s accepting of all people regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.”
The theme for this year’s IDAHOBIT is ‘Alliances in Solidarity’ and Jen says she is proud to be an ally and use her platform to foster a workplace and culture where all employees can feel free to be themselves.
“Executive Champions are just one of the many initiatives we employ to promote diversity as part of our Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and LGBTI plan,” Jen said.
“A suite of resources is available to staff including inclusive language guides, online training and short-term counselling. We also maintain a profile in the Australian National LGBTI Recruitment Guide to promote the department as an employer of choice.”
The department has a strong LGBTI network that lets members share their ideas, engage and inform the department on initiatives and strategies relevant to LGBTI people.
Chris Lusham works in the Liverpool Smart Centre and has been heavily involved the network as a way to connect with other LGBTI people across the department.
“The support from colleagues I talk to in the network has been incredible,” Chris said. “It’s a space where we feel comfortable to be ourselves.
“I believe in improving the visibility and awareness of LGBTI inclusion initiatives in the department. If people can be themselves and feel safe at work, they will perform better and make a more productive contribution to the workplace.
“To support IDAHOBIT I’m encouraging staff in Liverpool to wear rainbow colours to work on 17 May and will be arranging a morning tea where LGBTI staff and allies can come together and celebrate.”
Each year the department participates in the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) to benchmark its LGBTI inclusion initiatives and help identify where it is doing well and how it can improve.