Deloitte, Google and Energy Australia are incredibly proud to bring you our Outstanding 50 LGBTI+ Leaders of 2020.
Across diverse industries, these individuals show how passion, energy, resilience, visibility, courage – and above all, leading as your true self – can drive a successful career. These remarkable individuals are changing perceptions and creating more inclusive workplaces and communities. We hope you enjoy finding out more about our 50 leaders and that they inspire you with the confidence to live authentically, in all aspects of your life.
The Out50 story
Corrs Chambers Westgarth
Special Counsel, Corrs Chambers Westgarth and Chair of GiveOUT.
“I’m gay, wear hearing aids, and have a speech impediment … I aspire to demonstrate that no matter what initial hurdles might seem to be in your way, you can achieve anything.”
David is a senior lawyer specialising in litigation and arbitration at Corrs Chambers Westgarth. An advocate for diversity and inclusion, David is also the Chair of Pride@Corrs, the firm’s LGBTI+ network. In addition to this, David is the Chair of GiveOUT, a leading philanthropic charity which raises funds for LGBTI+ community groups and projects. David is passionate about using his legal skills to make an impact in the LGBTI+ community.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: I think people should never underestimate the value of quiet and genuine demonstration. Simple actions can be so powerful, whether it be having a visible Pride ally sticker on your desk when a colleague walks past, or a supportive comment made in general conversation. Such acts demonstrate a genuine cultural change and, in an authentic way, help to create a safe space.
Changing perceptions: Things have definitely changed for the better over the course of my career and the growth in the number of people who feel comfortable to be their full self in the workplace is amazing. We cannot lose sight, however, that there is still work to be done, particularly at the intersection of LGBTI+ and other diverse communities.
The kind of role model I want to be: I’m gay, wear hearing aids, and have a speech impediment. I’m grateful for all the opportunities I have had and aspire to demonstrate that no matter what initial hurdles might seem to be in your way, you can achieve anything.
Head of Asset Management, Damstra Technology
“Being out means not only healing and saving yourself, but also potentially saving someone who is watching from a dark closet somewhere.”
Rania holds many titles – as the Head of Asset Management at Damstra Technology; Director and Founder of Digital Smoothie; and a pharmacist at her local community pharmacy.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: It’s taken me years to get here but I’m a strong believer that the only path forward is to be visible and out. This is scary stuff and when you are visible, you risk losing loved ones and at times, your community. But being out means not only healing and saving yourself, but also potentially saving someone who is watching from a dark closet somewhere. Now that I’ve become a mum, I’m determined to share my story and talk about the long and difficult journey that got me to where I am today, so that I can be the role model that I desperately needed when I was fifteen, and for all the young Middle Eastern girls who struggle with their sexuality.
On changing perceptions: Over the years, Western people’s perceptions have slowly changed and for most, being an LGBTI+ individual is a non-issue. I would like to highlight that this is still not the case in my Middle Eastern culture and community. As an LGBTI+ individual, you are at best tolerated and at worst, exiled or excluded from your family or community. Over time, I slowly grew my confidence to come out and have found acceptance and love within my closest Middle Eastern friends. However, in general, being gay is still not accepted by the Middle Eastern community.
Chief Information Officer (CIO), EnergyAustralia
“During the marriage equality debate, my son sent me an article about Alan Joyce. The article talked about life being too short to not bring every part of yourself to work. My son said to me, “Mum, the next organisation you work for, I want them to know the whole you”.
Julie is the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at EnergyAustralia. She is passionate about co-creating solutions to problems and fostering an environment where people can do their best work without fear.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: The difference we can all make is to participate and engage in the conversation about LGBTI+ inclusion. Change is made by those who show up, and we’re so fortunate in our organisation to have so many people who volunteer their own time to help make it a better place for all of us. As someone within the LGBTI+ community, I can tell you wholeheartedly that it means a great deal when people show up. Get involved. The reward is huge, and you’ll have a lot of fun.
On inclusive leadership: I’m sure there are many people who’ve either felt excluded or been excluded in the workplace. I don’t want anyone under my leadership to feel that way, ever. Everyone has an equal right to be at the table, share their opinions and make their contribution in a safe environment.
Words to describe me: Having integrity, passionate, resilient.
CEO, Switchboard Victoria
“It is what you do when no one is watching that determines what kind of leader you really are.”
Joe is the CEO at Switchboard Victoria, a community controlled LGBTI+ organisation, specialising in mental health, suicide prevention and family violence prevention. Joe’s passion lies in grass-roots solutions to systematic problems, empowering marginalised communities to take power back and regain control over their bodies, lives and futures.
Advice: It is what you do when no one is watching that determines what kind of leader you really are.
Changing perceptions: When I started out in my career twenty years ago, I could have never dreamed that I would be able to work and lead in my community in this way. Back then, I would have questioned whether a time would ever come that I could be out at work. I think that says a lot about how far things have come.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: I think today’s challenge is in understanding the intersectional realities of LGBTI+ lives. We need to understand that without an end to inequality across race, gender, poverty and class we will not see complete LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility, as the issues are inextricable.
Reflecting on 2020 – inspiration despite the challenges: This year, I drew inspiration every day from the Switchboard Victoria founders who forged our organisation during the AIDS pandemic. I thought of them and how they achieved so much, starting an LGBTI+ helpline with no government or corporate funding all in the middle of a pandemic. I knew if they could do what they did, I could play my role now as we faced another pandemic.
Words to describe me: Dedicated, courageous, kind.
Ben Bjarnesen BM
Queensland Police Service (QPS)
Police officer, Queensland Police Service; Founding Director, LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation; Regional Coordinator, LGBTI Liaison Officer Program
“The hands of change move very, very slowly—though, that can be a good thing. Tiny changes aren’t always noticeable to those who oppose you, but those changes eventually become an avalanche!”
Ben is an operational police officer at Queensland Police Service and a volunteer LGBTI+ Liaison Officer – a role he has held for more than ten years. Ben is also a founding member of the Queensland Police LGBTI+ Support (employee) Network. Alongside his many roles in the police force, Ben also founded the inaugural LGBTI Domestic Violence Awareness Day campaign in May 2020 to shine a light on LGBTI+ experiences of domestic violence and abuse across Australia.
Role models: I’ve always looked up to my mum and her resilience and determination in facing adversity. From a policing perspective, I was fortunate enough to meet Deputy Commissioner Neil Paterson from Victoria Police early on in my career, and at that time, he was one of the very few openly gay police officers that I knew of. Having only been ‘out’ in the police service for a few years, I was still navigating my way through being an openly gay police officer at a time when LGBTI+ inclusion wasn't at the forefront. To see such an authentic, genuine and thoughtful leader in an executive leadership role gave me hope that in the future, my sexuality wouldn't stop me from achieving my goals.
Advice: The hands of change move very, very slowly—though, that can be a good thing. Tiny changes aren’t always noticeable to those who oppose you, but those changes eventually become an avalanche!
Words to describe me: Caring, passionate, genuine.
Queensland Police Service (QPS)
Inspector, Regional Operations Manager, State Intelligence, Crime and Intelligence Command, Queensland Police Service (QPS).
“We need to open our hearts and minds to difference and understand not everyone shares the majority experience of culture, class, ethnicity, ability, gender or sexuality.”
Gai is the Regional Operations Manager for State Intelligence within the Crime and Intelligence Command at Queensland Police Service (QPS). Gai’s role is focused on supporting, supervising, managing and leading intelligence practitioners in the regional areas of Queensland.
Advice: Early on in my career I was told, “be yourself, everyone else is taken”. This was difficult to do, but over the years I’ve learned the importance of being authentic, vulnerable and courageous. As a manager, you need to be able to show humanity to connect with people. My leadership journey has been one of self-discovery, lifelong learning and sharing my knowledge with others.
Can you share a story with us that has made the most impact on you during your LGBTI+ journey? The event that had the most impact on me during my LGBTI+ journey was the marriage equality debate. I was surprised by this event as I have been out for years and very comfortable in my own skin. There was a lot of negativity around the campaign and it affected a lot of LGBTI+ people. The idea that people, who already had the right to marry, would decide if I was entitled to the same right, left me feeling “less than” and “othered”. It felt threatening to me and I was concerned for other LGBTI+ people, especially young people. This experience inspired me to continue my LGBTI+ work with the Queensland Police Service and to highlight the impact that exclusion can have on any diverse group.
CEO, Equality Australia
“Courage is taking a stand when nobody else will stand with you.”
Anna is the founding CEO of Equality Australia, a national organisation dedicated to equality for LGBTI+ people, built from the successful campaign for marriage equality. After years working on LGBTI+ reform at the Human Rights Law Centre and as co-chair of the Equality Campaign, Anna founded Equality Australia, which is now seen as a 'go to' organisation for decision makers, the media and industry on key issues affecting our community.
Changing perceptions: I feel like my personal journey of acceptance and comfort about my identity parallels the gains that have been made in LGBTI+ equality and inclusion over the decades. I wasn’t ‘out’ when I first started in corporate law – there were no visible signs of support or out role models. I remember even avoiding telling people that I played women’s football.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: We all have a role to play by supporting the community organisations that support us – volunteer, donate, share and amplify their work. Speak up and speak out on the issues that matter to our community, be an advocate for inclusion in your workplace and call out discrimination and harassment. Let your LGBTI+ friends, family and workmates know that you see them and support them.
Courage is taking a stand when nobody else will stand with you. I am really impressed when organisations take a stand and speak out early on social issues – this is true leadership.
Words to describe me: Courageous, calm, compassionate.
Chief Executive, Midsumma Festival
“Stories are powerful, as are the personal connections that stem from sharing them.”
Karen is chief executive and creative director of Midsumma Festival. Karen oversees all strategic and business management functions for Midsumma, including an annual arts festival, as well as year-round arts programming and development activities. Through her role and passion for the arts, Karen strives to provide opportunities for people to elevate their creative voices to the centre of cultural conversations.
Advice: When I was entering my career, I was told to set my goals high and be unafraid of failure—because the greatest outcomes come from experimentation and having the courage to take chances and seek what’s next. I got a tattoo early on in my career that just reads, ‘Courage and Truth’ – two core values I want to live by, personally and professionally.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: We all need to be more inclusive and open to listening to the lived experiences of others across different cultures, generations, identities and disability. Then, we must actively seek to break down barriers to participation in everything we do. I’m a big believer that the simple act of storytelling – building personal connections where none were present before – is often the only way to bring about real attitudinal change. Stories are powerful, as are the personal connections that stem from sharing them. Our stories are the keepers of our histories. They are the way we come together as vibrant, connected communities to celebrate our present and think about how we can build our future.
Words to describe me: Passionate, diligent, focused.
Managing Principal of Communication and Stakeholder Engagement, Aurecon
“Trailblazing is exciting and rewarding but it can get lonely. It's hard to be what you can't see.”
Kylie is the managing principal of communication and stakeholder engagement at Aurecon. Kylie specialises in helping clients maintain and regain their social licence through mitigating social risk and managing community outrage. Kylie is passionate about providing the community with a voice on contentious and complex infrastructure projects. As the founder of Women in Transport (WiT), she is also passionate about seeing more women in the transport industry. In recognition of her technical mastery and industry eminence, Kylie was recently appointed as an Aurecon Design Director. She is the first non-engineer, first woman and first lesbian to be granted this sought-after recognition.
Changing perceptions: Twenty-five years ago, when I met my partner, I had to consciously decide whether I would feel comfortable to talk openly about my sexuality at work—in meetings or just through general chat, like talking about my weekend. I’d think to myself, is it safe? Would it be held against me? Would it change how I was treated? I'm pleased to say that this has not been an issue for some time.
Passions: My drivers are shaping cities and societies and giving people a voice to participate in that process. I strongly believe in designing infrastructure that sits within communities rather than infrastructure that communities need to live with. I also believe in the magic that comes from combining the lived experience of communities with the deep technical knowledge of engineering.
Words to describe me: Driven, passionate, empathetic.
Dr Matt Collins AM QC
Australian Bar Association
Queen’s Counsel; Vice-president, Australian Bar Association; Past-president, Victorian Bar; Senior Fellow, Melbourne Law School
“I resolved from my earliest days in the profession that I would not be part of perpetuating a culture of invisibility and silence.”
Matt is a media and commercial law barrister. From 2017–2019, he was the first openly gay president in the 135-year history of the Victorian Bar. Matt is also a Senior Fellow at Melbourne Law School and Vice-President of the Australian Bar Association, which represents over 6,000 Australian barristers.
Role models: When I started out in the early 1990s, I didn’t know of any openly LGBTI+ lawyers or judges in Australia. I knew of many who were closeted. In my first week as an articled clerk, a solicitor I had seen out and about came to my office, closed the door behind him, and begged that I not ‘out’ him. The absence of role models was striking. I resolved from my earliest days in the profession that I would not be part of perpetuating a culture of invisibility and silence..
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: Visibility is key, as is calling out both overt and unconscious homophobia and transphobia. I am a big believer, however, that progress is best entrenched through quiet advocacy rather than militancy. Little things can make a significant difference—speaking openly at work about your home and social life, gently (and without judgement) correcting assumptions about the gender of your partner, being prepared to discuss LGBTI+ issues patiently and openly with colleagues, and remembering that for some, the pace of change has been confronting and they may be labouring under the weight of generations of stereotypes and misconceptions.
Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Rugby Australia
“Now more than ever, social inclusion is so important. We need to make sure we are connected to community and that no one suffers or struggles alone.”
Casey is the Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Rugby Australia and is passionate about creating a truly inclusive and safe space for all. As an inclusive leader, Casey fronts the charge in taking an intersectional approach to learn from others and their journeys, to create sustainable and meaningful change.
My LGTBI+ journey: Coming out in a professional sporting setting really set me up for my working career. In my moments of darkness, I didn't see a way out. Knowing that I had great people and support structures around me, I was empowered to be my authentic self, which gave me the confidence to share my story. I had no idea of the impact it would have, and I'm honoured that it has helped others in their journey of acceptance.
On bringing my whole self to work: Not having to self-edit or second guess myself in the workplace allows me to focus on my responsibilities and produce great work. The confidence and assurance that comes with not having to worry about being treated differently because of my sexuality cannot be understated.
Advice: When I was starting my career, I was told that my experiences and beliefs are only one of many. I had to listen and learn from others to help make sense of my journey, where it fits, and how I can leverage it to make meaningful and sustainable change
Words to describe me: Loyal, honest, determined.
Associate Director, Pride Inclusion Programs
“Being a leader is very different to being a “boss". A true leader is not here to tell their team what to do, but to guide, assist, step in when needed, and help people develop.”
Elaine works with the Pride Inclusion Programs’ leadership team to help drive the management and operations of programs directed to increase inclusivity, diversity and equality for the LGBTI+ community. A long-time campaigner for equality, Elaine is deeply involved in the community and is passionate about driving leadership that gives individuals the space to grow and be their best selves.
Role models: Growing up in the 60s and 70s in a northern UK town, I didn’t realise that I was Bi or even what LGBTI+ was. I knew I felt different but couldn’t articulate it and there weren’t any role models to look to. The world and the workplace were very separate—you went to work to do your job and that was it. Instead, I looked to the music industry where artists like David Bowie were talking about sexuality and gender fluidity. But it wasn’t until many years later, when I first volunteered for Mardi Gras, that I finally found my place.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: We can all educate ourselves more to be better allies to our wonderful rainbow community. When we are informed, we can call out inappropriate language and we can be respectful to our LGBTI+ family, friends and colleagues by using the correct pronouns and terminology. We can also help increase visibility, especially for those in our community who still aren’t treated equally by law and society, by supporting LGBTI+ days of significance.
Words to describe me: Caring, dedicated, exuberant.
Alliance for Gambling Reform
Chair, Alliance for Gambling Reform
“I believe you need to be the change you want to see. Plenty of people talk about things, but actions speak louder than words.”
Sharon is the chair for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, which works to prevent and minimise the harm caused from gambling and remove the shame that surrounds gambling addiction.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: I believe you need to be the change you want to see. Plenty of people talk about things, but actions speak louder than words. As a leader, people look to me and my actions, to set the tone and for guidance.
Advice: Listen, think and reflect. There’s so much to learn from listening to people and noting what is and isn’t said.
Changing perceptions: Over the course of my career, there have been significant changes. I’m proud to have been part of that change. I am now comfortable about living authentically. My gender has been more a barrier than my sexuality.
Inclusive leadership: This year, we’ve been plagued by drought, bushfires and a pandemic. As a result, wellbeing and mental health is front and centre and much more openly discussed. As a leader, I really keep an eye out for my people and ensure I check in with regularly. This is even more important now we are working from home and I’m not around in the hallway for a quiet word.
Words to describe me: Committed, compassionate, resilient.
Managing Partner, Perpetual Private; Board Member, GiveOUT Australia
“Inclusive leadership is a key that when used in the right ways it unlocks better ways of working, engaging and innovating. Inclusive leadership means you can be more confident that you are shining a torch in the shadows of your own understanding and that you are creating a workplace that continuously grows.”
Caitriona leads the Western Region of Perpetual Private’s Private Client business, helping families, business owners and communities to achieve their aspirations. She also leads Perpetual’s Community and Social Investment business, which focuses on working with For-Purpose organisations, philanthropists and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Caitriona is also a board member of GiveOUT Australia, where she focuses on increasing philanthropic foundation awareness of the need to direct greater levels of funding support to rainbow communities.
Changing perceptions: The perceptions of those around me in relation to LGBTI+ inclusion have changed enormously and in a positive way. The transformation has been rapid, especially since the marriage equality campaign. There are a lot of people who will feel scarred and wounded by that campaign, but it forced many companies and leaders to think about LGBTI+ inclusion in ways they may have avoided. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and I think that campaign shone a light on things we needed to face to ensure our rainbow communities were engaged, supported and cared for.
Advice: You’ll work in jobs across your career that aren’t perfect, but if they involve working for and with leaders and organisations that are value aligned, you’ll always learn, grow and get out of bed a little easier in the morning.
City of Sydney
Councillor, City of Sydney
“My family is an example of how people can have profoundly differing views on important subjects, but still advocate for their positions in a respectful, rational and empathetic way.”
Christine is a councillor for the City of Sydney. In addition to this role, Christine is an Ambassador for Pride in Diversity’s Sapphire Program for lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in the workplace.
Role highlights: There have been many, but the highlight was the role I was able to play in the Australian campaign for marriage equality. I was able to leverage my position as a public figure to strongly advocate the yes case, and openly rebut the arguments being presented by the high profile no campaigners, particularly Lyle Shelton (who I debated weekly on Sky News) and my brother Tony Abbott (who I challenged publicly throughout). I also think my family is an example of how people can have profoundly differing views on important subjects, but still advocate for their positions in a respectful, rational and empathetic way. I’m proud that Tony and I were able to do that and show that families don’t need to be torn apart by differences of opinion or belief but can in fact maintain strong and loving relationships despite them.
Inclusive leadership: I don’t intentionally try to be a leader, but I do my best to live an authentic life and I don’t shy away from sharing my experiences publicly. Nor do I refrain from speaking out when I see a wrong that I think should be righted.
Words to describe me: Loyal, strong, opinionated.
Independent Member for Sydney in NSW Parliament; Chair of Inner-City Legal Centre Foundation
“Don’t be afraid to confront the difficult issues.”
Alongside his role as the Independent Member for Sydney in the NSW Parliament, Alex is also chair of the Inner-City Legal Centre Foundation. Across his roles, Alex champions the LGBTI+ community by ensuring the community has a voice at all levels of government, driving law reform to better represent and protect trans and gender-diverse groups, and advocating for access to safe and supported housing for vulnerable people. Prior to this, Alex was the co-chair of the successful YES campaign, which delivered marriage equality in Australia in 2017.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: I believe that by celebrating the success of LGBTI+ people, we can shine a light on their strength, resilience and the people who support them.
Role highlights: Some of the achievements I’m most proud of are achieving marriage equality and the marriage equality campaign as a whole – it gave me the opportunity to travel the country and meet so many wonderful advocates and allies of our community. I’m also extremely proud of the work I’ve done in supporting the trans and gender-diverse communities, working to end homelessness in NSW, and securing NSW’s support to end the ban on gay blood donation.
Changing perceptions: Since starting my career, I believe perceptions about the LGBTI+ community and LGBTI+ inclusion have improved significantly. Still, there is much more work to do to support the trans and gender-diverse communities.
Inclusive leadership: I strive to proactively demonstrate inclusive leadership by always listening and ensuring diversity is in the room.
Words to describe me: Passionate, determined, friendly.
Head of Technology, QBE Insurance
“Someone once said to me, ‘if you want to work in a place where you can have your partner’s photo on your desk, then put your partner’s photo on your desk’.”
Described as a trailblazer and change agent by her peers, Lisa looks after the technology needs of QBE Insurance and leads a team of people who work with the business to deliver and maintain technology services. Lisa is passionate about inclusion and believes that everyone has the right to feel safe to be themselves in the world, including when they’re at work.
Role models: Working in technology for a car manufacturer in the north of England, I didn’t know anyone who was LGBTI+. In the absence of LGBTI+ role models, I looked up to strong female leaders. The ones I admired most were the ones who treated people well and still delivered amazing business outcomes. Now, I am lucky enough to have a gay boss. We naturally understand each other and it’s really nice to have other openly gay people in the team. It makes such a difference to be yourself at work.
Advice: The best advice I’ve received is to just keep challenging yourself. The companies I have most enjoyed working for are ones with an entrepreneurial culture where people are encouraged to take risks for amazing outcomes. This has served me well and I still push myself to take chances now.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: Someone once said to me, ‘if you want to work in a place where you can have your partner’s photo on your desk, then put your partner’s photo on your desk’. Such a simple but powerful statement. You have to take action and be brave to challenge the norm.
Josephine McDonnell Inkpin
St Francis (Theological) College Brisbane
Lecturer in Church History and Senior Tutor, St Francis (Theological) College Brisbane
“I look forward to the day when in every walk of life, our identities are not questioned, or used as sources of privilege or denigration.”
Josephine is a lecturer in church history, a senior tutor at St Francis (Theological) College Brisbane and writes and researches across a broad range of Christian historical and theological issues. As a proud transgender Anglican priest, Josephine is passionate about seeking and expressing love, truth, justice and beauty, through relationships, partnerships, solidarity, and celebrations.
How has bringing your whole self to work shaped your career? Bringing my whole self to work makes me happier, and more capable of fruitfulness and constructive partnerships with others. In the wider faith sphere I inhabit, it does also mean I am now a much greater target for attack. I look forward to the day when, in every walk of life, our identities are not questioned or used as sources of privilege or denigration.
On inclusive leadership: Being an inclusive leader is about embodying the respect and value that we all deserve, and which will enable us all to grow fully. I seek to recognise my own privileges and not hog the floor; to highlight and engage the contributions of others in what I say, write and do; to make space for others by supporting them in sharing their own voices and building strong advocacy and support structures; and to be open to new insights, relationships, and ways of doing things.
Words to describe me: Passionate, sensitive, creative.
Global Mental Health Peer Network
Deputy Representative, Global Mental Health Peer Network (Western Pacific Region)
“Speak loud and speak proud! Utilise your lived experience to give a voice to others.”
Matthew is the deputy representative for the Global Mental Health Peer Network, in the Western Pacific Region. He leads the lived-experience perspective by identifying and connecting local mental health care user groups and providing input into mental health related documents from the perspective of lived experience. Matthew is passionate about promoting human rights and equality within the lived-experience movement to help give a voice to the service user community in mental health. His goal is to make space for others who have experienced mental distress, trauma and poverty reflective of his own experiences, to have a voice.
Changing perceptions: I’ve definitely observed a notable drive towards inclusivity within my primary field (social work), with a visible effort by others in the field to use more inclusive language and celebrate key days of significance on the LGBTI+ calendar. That said, I feel like this is something that we should constantly be improving on by addressing unequal power at an individual and structural level.
Advice: Speak loud and speak proud! Utilise your lived experience to give a voice to others. These words were spoken to me by a lecturer at university and have always resonated with me.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: We should all focus on championing and giving a voice to intersectional communities within our own communities, by recognising the privileges that we hold (both visible and invisible).
Words to describe me: Empathic, driven, vivacious.
Executive Manager, Personal Injury Assurance Suncorp
“Being an inclusive leader is critical to me. The role of a leader is to bring out the best in their people in pursuit of their shared goals, and you can’t bring out the best in someone who isn't being themselves.”
Shay is the Executive Manager of Suncorp’s Personal Injury Assurance team and Chair of Amplify, Suncorp's Employee Resource Group for Suncorp's LGBTI+ staff and allies. Shay is also Chair of Open Doors Youth Service Inc.—Queensland's leading youth service, supporting LGBTI+ youth and their families. Shay is passionate about promoting the stories and lived experiences of minority groups within Australia and across the world and working towards achieving true equality in all aspects of life.
Changing perceptions: I feel like there has been a huge shift and across Australia there is an enormous affection for our community. We still do have a way to go and it's important to not lose sight of the challenges still to face, but I am so proud of the progress we have made and grateful to past leaders for their work and sacrifice too.
How can we all (the LGBTI+ community and allies) play a role in LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility? First: gain an understanding of the issues facing the community, by reading queer news and following queer voices on social media. Second: add your voice to theirs—share, write letters, donate, say a prayer, ask someone if they're ok, celebrate queer events and history. Third: repeat.
Words to describe me: Passionate, hardworking, caring.
Department of Premier and Cabinet NSW
Executive Director, Create NSW - Department of Premier and Cabinet NSW
“There have been significant developments which have led to increased inclusion of the LGBTI+ community. Despite these welcome changes, there is a lot of work to be done to fight for the powerless who still face a daily battle for inclusion.”
Chris is the executive director of Create NSW, leading the NSW Government's arts and culture policy and development body. Through his role, Chris helps to support artists as well as key arts and cultural organisations. An inclusive leader, Chris empowers and cares for his team, encouraging them all to bring their full selves to work.
Changing perceptions: There have been significant developments which have led to increased inclusion of the LGBTI+ community. Despite these welcome changes, there is still a lot of work to be done to fight for the powerless who still face a daily battle for inclusion.
Advice: When I was starting out in my career, a partner in my first law firm advised me to go with my passions and leave the law. I followed that advice and never looked back!
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: We all have a role to play and I think we can all start by being brave, being out, and being ourselves.
Reflecting on 2020 – inspiration despite the challenges: COVID-19 significantly impacted the arts, screen and cultural sectors, second only to that of the hospitality sector. I’ve been privileged to work within Government supporting the arts, screen and cultural sector through the $50 million Arts Rescue and Restart package along with many other initiatives. I’ve also been so inspired by the energy and resilience of the arts, screen and cultural sector in exploring new ways to continue their important work.
The Honourable Michael Kirby
High Court of Australia
Former Justice of the High Court of Australia and Chair of the Commission of Inquiry of the UN Human Rights Council on North Korea. Current Co-Chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association
"The LGBTI+ community should not only be concerned with issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity; they should be engaged with all forms of discrimination, inequality and injustice.”
Michael Kirby is an international jurist, educator and former judge. He served as Justice of the High Court of Australia and chair of the Commission of Inquiry of the UN Human Rights Council on North Korea and is the current co-chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association.
Changing perceptions: LGBTI+ inclusion has come so far, and I think it’s largely due to people (including my partner, now spouse, Johan) starting to stand up for themselves and stand up for equality for all. Inclusion has certainly changed over the course of my career and continues to change.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: I think we all have a part to play in LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility by standing up.
Not everyone has the confidence or support (whether that be from family or colleagues) to be themselves at work – what advice would you give to them? Young people can find confidence and support because of improvements in communication and information. Things are getting better in countries like Australia. The real challenges today are in poorer and needy countries. Moreover, the LGBTI+ community should not only be concerned with issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity; they should be engaged with all forms of discrimination, inequality and injustice.
Words to describe me: Focused, energetic, kind.
Craig A Limkin
Department of Premier and Cabinet (TAS)
Deputy Secretary, Department of Premier and Cabinet (TAS)
“Legacy is planting seeds in a garden you may never get to see grow.”
Craig is the deputy secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet in Tasmania. Craig is also the state recovery advisor and has played a critical role in Tasmania’s COVID-19 response and recovery. Craig is passionate about making a difference in society and improving the outcomes for the current and future generations.
Role models: Coming from a small country town in central Queensland, LGBTI+ role models were limited. It wasn't until I moved to NYC where there were many open LGBTI+ people, did I start to meet role models who supported my development and self-confidence.
My career has been shaped by strong women and men who shared their knowledge and actively invested in my professional development.
Changing perceptions: I was always concerned about being out and proud and was very lucky that my family supported and accepted me from a young age. Today, I think that perceptions have drastically changed for the better, especially over the last 10 years. Yes, there are further challenges such as gender identity laws, but we do continue to move forward.
Advice: It is so important to be out and proud, to believe in yourself, to experiment, and to be prepared to fail and pick yourself up. Always remember that legacy is planting seeds in a garden you may never get to see grow.
Reflecting on 2020 – inspiration despite the challenges: I have been inspired by my team. For ten months now, we have focused on the COVID-19 response and recovery. Despite the challenges we have faced along the way, my team continues to show up with a smile, dedicated to making a difference.
The Piddington Society
Non-profit Executive and Economist
“Balancing being good at your job and bringing people with you is where true action and outcomes happen.”
As the executive officer at The Piddington Society, Conrad seeks to bring together justice and collegiality by providing a supportive environment for lawyers to learn and develop together, through a suite of high-quality professional development programs.
Alongside this role, Conrad runs his own HR advisory and labour economics practice, where he works with everyone from small regional WA non-profits through to foreign governments and global technology giants on workplace performance, engagement, and the changing workforce.
Changing perceptions: The changes to society’s perceptions of the LGBTI+ community and inclusion has changed profoundly in the past decade. Fundamentally, workplaces and communities now see homophobia and transphobia as poor judgment and distasteful. Also, there are now many obvious LGBTI+ leaders for young people. This was not something that was around when I was coming of age.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: For LGBTI+ people, be confidently yourself. Don't try to fit into a box that doesn't fit you. Have the courage to step outside and be bold. Take the leap because it isn’t as scary as you may imagine – it will help your career and people will respect you. For allies, be ready and willing to engage in meaningful conversations with LGBTI+ people as well as bigots. To bring people along with you on your allyship journey, speak to their hearts and minds.
Inclusive leadership: Inclusive leadership is about providing a voice to other people. Many people don’t have the opportunity to share their unique perspectives and valuable expertise. I know I have the ability to give people a platform, and I always make an effort to do so.
Host of ABC’s Q+A and Radio National Breakfast
“Learning a language taught me how important it is to really listen to different voices who might otherwise go unheard. The simple act of opening a conversation in someone else’s language gave me access to stories I would likely never have been able to tell.”
Hamish McDonald is the host of ABC’s Q&A program where he leads discussion on the big issues of our time with politicians and people in power. Giving a voice to all Australians, Hamish pursues answers from those who wield power, facilitates important conversations and shares unique and often unheard perspectives.
Role models: Starting my career, I looked up to people like Jana Wendt, George Negus and Chris Masters for their journalistic grit and tenacity.
Passions: I’m passionate about bringing different voices, opinions and perspectives into the same conversation. In these fractious and divided times, it can be hard to burst through the bubble of people’s echo-chambers, but I firmly believe it is still possible to draw people together for robust but respectful debate and discussion. Listening to each other, seeing and understanding differences are more important than ever.
Advice: Entering my career, I was told to learn a language, which led me to study Indonesian. It proved a great advantage when I worked in South East Asia because it opened my eyes to new perspectives and different ways of doing my work. It taught me how important it is to really listen to different voices who might otherwise go unheard. The simple act of opening a conversation in someone else’s language gave me access to stories I would likely never have been able to tell.
Words to describe me: Loyal, energetic, easily encouraged.
Creative Director, Google
“I’ve consciously tried to be open and out about my identity, to ensure that the generation behind me has visible LGBTI+ role models, so they can see what they want to be, and know that there is a place in our industry for people like us.”
Tara is Google’s creative director and founder of Rare, Google's D&I initiative for the creative industries. Across her seven years with Google, Tara has also led the creative execution of Google’s Mardi Gras initiatives (Places of Pride and Love by Numbers), ensured diverse talent is represented in all communications, and built a platform to help remove unconscious bias from machine learning algorithms (Project Respect).
Role models: Starting out in my career, I didn’t have any openly LGBTI+ role models because there were very few. I had never even heard of a LGBTI+ leader in my industry and we also had very few females in leadership in advertising. When I started my career, the global leadership team within my agency network was actually called the 'Band of Brothers'. Because of this experience I’ve consciously tried to be open and out about my identity, to ensure that the generation behind me has visible LGBTI+ role models, so they can see what they want to be, and know that there is a place in our industry for people like us.
Reflecting on 2020 – inspiration despite the challenges: I have to say as a proud New Zealander having Jacinda Arden announce the most diverse cabinet in history was a highlight. Coupled with the first female and person of colour becoming US vice president has really inspired me and given me hope that there will be more equity to come for our community and others.
Head of Diversity & Inclusion - Woolworths Group
“You are stronger than you think, and you will build on this strength by being true to yourself. Do what you know is right and you will find friends and support when you least expect it.”
Rachel is the head of diversity & inclusion at Woolworths Group, leading initiatives to ensure Woolworths is a truly inclusive place to work and shop. Rachel is passionate about creating an environment where people can be themselves, which in turn allows them to be their best.
Changing perceptions: Perceptions have changed dramatically over the course of my career. When I started work in the late 80s during the AIDS epidemic, discussion about the community was often negative and the concept of LGBTI+ inclusion did not exist. Over time, societal attitudes have changed, and this change is reflected in the workplace as well. In more recent years, companies have identified the benefits of creating inclusive workplaces and many have made good progress with LGBTI+ inclusion. There is still much work to be done, particularly in transgender and gender diverse inclusion but given how far we have come in the last thirty years I feel very positive about the future.
Not everyone has the confidence or support (whether that be from family or colleagues) to be themselves at work – what advice would you give to them? You are stronger than you think, and you will build on this strength by being true to yourself. Do what you know is right and you will find friends and support when you least expect it.
Words to describe me: Authentic, encouraging, resilient.
Adele (delsi cat) Moleta
Founding Director, Unicorns
“When I'm holding the microphone, I think very carefully about the words I say and consider how I could use these moments to educate, uplift, inform or inspire.”
In 2012, Adele founded the LGBTQIA+ community organisation, Unicorns, with the vision of creating events that celebrate every part of the LGBTQIA+ community across Melbourne and Sydney. Adele was recognised as a Finalist for LGBTI+ Person of the Year in the 2019 GLOBE Awards and as a Finalist for 'Hero of the Year' at the Australian LGBTI Awards, for the impact she has made throughout her diverse career.
Role models: While they may have been fictitious, I looked up to the characters in the television series, ‘The L Word.’ I wanted to find my people and form a community like they had.
Advice: I remember the CEO of a not-for-profit festival organisation I worked for in my early 20s once said to me, “language is a powerful tool,” and that has always stuck with me. I think about that a lot when I step on to a stage at an event. When I'm holding the microphone, I think very carefully about the words I say and consider how I could use these moments to educate, uplift, inform or inspire.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: I believe we can make change by giving a platform to the voices within our LGBTI+ community who are less heard and by fighting for the rights of those who still face injustices. We can leverage the power and privilege some of us are fortunate enough to have to lift up others, educate ourselves and consult with the community about what inclusivity and visibility looks like, and how we can work in solidarity to achieve it.
Partner, Financial Advisory, PwC & National Co-Sponsor, Shine (PwC’s LGBTI+ network)
“Everyone has individual stories and hardships – share and be open and honest about yourself as vulnerability fosters a culture of inclusiveness.”
Cherie is a financial advisory partner at PwC, the national co-sponsor for Shine (PwC’s LGBTI+ network) and was one of the founders of the Shine women’s network. Cherie is also an active member of Be (PwC’s diverse cultural background network). As a bisexual, Asian female, Cherie is also passionate about educating and raising awareness of issues that women face in our community, and how intersectionality can impact discrimination and privilege.
Advice: Be your authentic self. I know it sounds obvious, but the less time I spent worrying about what other people thought of me (and censoring myself), the more I could focus on other things. I think coming out at work really helped me build stronger relationships with my team and clients. I appreciate that being part of an inclusive work environment may not be an option for everyone. Where you can, choose a workplace where you can be yourself, and if you can’t - try to be part of the change. Find people who you can talk to, and who can support you.
Inclusive leadership: I think role modelling and living out and proud is incredibly important. I recently took part in a short video for Pride Month and was humbled by the messages I received. I had Asian Australians reach out to me and share their stories of their upbringing and experiencing casual or overt racism, and so many wonderful messages from our LGBTI+ community. It was so heart-warming.
Global Chief Executive Officer, Talent International
‘We all have chinks in our armour, and we all make mistakes. Owning, accepting and sharing these imperfections allows for a deeper and more meaningful connection.”
Mark is the global CEO of Talent International and board member of Talent's foundation, ‘Talent RISE’, which focuses on youth unemployment through the mentoring and placement of young people into technology-related roles. Mark is a passionate believer in vulnerable and authentic leadership, purpose and supporting people to bring their whole selves to work. Amongst many professional accolades, in 2018 Mark was awarded CEO of the year by CEO Magazine.
Role models: I grew up in South Africa which 25 years ago was not at all progressive in terms of LGBTI+ acceptance. I really struggled to be comfortable with my identity as a gay man. It was only when I relocated to London with newfound anonymity that I was able to meet other out gay men. There was not one individual but being part of gay professional groups and having a group of professional gay friends had a really positive impact. At the same time, my non-LGBTI+ friends really embraced and respected me for having the courage to come out. This resulted in these friendship bonds been much stronger.
Advice: The best piece of advice I received was when I was looking for an organisation to join. It was to identify organisations that are known to be progressive and have evidence of leadership, including your direct manager, that don’t just tolerate but embrace diversity. I also was encouraged to make a point somewhere in the interview process of mentioning my husband in conversation. This shows authenticity and tackles any unwarranted concerns one may have.
Project Manager, Goulburn Community-owned Solar Farm; President, Canberra SpringOUT Pride Association; Board Member, National Folk Festival.
“Find your tribe – which I have done. They live all over the globe and are people who understand and support me, and I them. They are my chosen family.”
Lynne has worked across the not-for-profit management and government space for the past 35 years, including end to end event management, creative, technical, media, strategic communication and procurement. Lynne is the current President of the Canberra SpringOUT Pride Association and has led the team for the past 3 years to produce Canberra’s LGBTQIA+ Pride festival in November. Lynne is also the Project Manager for the Goulburn community-owned Solar Farm, a passionate farmer and LGBTI+ activist.
Changing perceptions: In the 80s when my kids were at school, I was working in radio, theatre and music. Sadly, there were times when they were bullied because I was ‘different’. There was one situation where my daughter was surrounded by a group of kids and taunted by comments like “your mums’ a lesbian”. I removed her from the school immediately.
She is now an adult, with children of her own and I’m happy to say that over the years a lot of those kids have apologised for the bullying. This behaviour would not be condoned or tolerated today – a true example of how things have changed.
Advice: Be yourself, be true to yourself, and love and forgive yourself often. The rest will follow.
Also, find your tribe – which I have done. They live all over the globe and are people who understand and support me, and I them. They are my chosen family.
Words to describe me: Brave, determined, creative.
Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations
Chief Executive Officer, Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations
“The privilege some of us have can obscure the struggle for others.”
Darryl leads political engagement and advocacy for Australian Federation of AIDS Organisation (AFAO), the voice for communities carrying the burden of HIV. His hope is to see the HIV epidemic through to its end.
Role models: When I came out in the early 1990s, many of my friends were gay men in their 40s, a generation hit especially hard by HIV. At the time of finding my community, I was also losing people. That’s an experience a young person doesn’t forget, and it helped me on my path.
Changing perceptions: Life is better. Many battles have been fought and won and we have much to be thankful for. We owe our community elders a great debt and we have a long way to go in recognising and celebrating their fight.
But better isn’t good enough. The privilege some of us have can obscure the struggle for others. Life is hard for many in our communities at home and in our region. It’s easy to live in comfortable bubbles and forget that family life, neighbourhoods and workplaces are hostile places for many. There is a long way to go for real social justice and inclusion across our communities.
Reflecting on 2020 – inspiration despite the challenges: I’ve been inspired seeing our LGBTI+ community organisations mobilise during COVID-19. We’ve avoided the worst of COVID-19 so far in deaths, yet the impacts on our mental health and on domestic violence are shocking. While many mainstream organisations closed, our community organisations really stepped up to provide support when people needed it most.
Words to describe me: Meticulous, focused, generous.
The Honourable Chansey Paech
Member for Gwoja in the NT Assembly, Minister for Remote Housing and Town Camps, Local Government, Art, Culture and Heritage, Central Australian Reconstruction, Indigenous Essential Services.
“Don't let people define you by your sexuality. It is part of my story, not my whole story.”
Chansey is a member for Gwoja in the NT Assembly and the Minister for Remote Housing and Town Camps, Local Government, Art, Culture and Heritage, Central Australian Reconstruction, and Indigenous Essential Services. Chansey is passionate about giving remote communities the opportunity to develop socially and economically and drive their own decisions.
Role models: I’ve always looked up to Senator Penny Wong. I am constantly inspired by her strong advocacy for LGBTI+ issues and progressive politics. I've also found Harvey Milk's story to be important and one that definitely resonates with me. Harvey is a trailblazer for LGBTI+ representation in the political arena.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: Stand tall, stand proud and stand by your convictions. Never be afraid to be who you are. And embrace your allies - this isn't a race, it’s a team effort.
Advice: Be true to yourself. Don't deny people the opportunity to get to know you and who you are. Know your line in the sand. Don't let people define you by your sexuality. It is part of my story, not my whole story.
Inclusive leadership: My job depends on being inclusive and ensuring we look at all we do through an inclusive lens, whether its policy development or implementing new legislation. We need to deliver for all, not the few and ensuring that our processes are open and inclusive of all sectors of our community is the only way to achieve this.
Words to describe me: Energetic, driven, cheeky.
“The progress we have seen is not equitable for all in our communities and there is still significant work to be done for the trans and gender-diverse community, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI+ people, for women in our communities, and for ethnically diverse people, amongst many others.”
Nicolas is the CEO of ACON, Australia’s largest LGBTI+ health organisation. He’s passionate about ending HIV transmissions, improving health outcomes for LGBTI+ people and eliminating homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. He wants to help create an Australia where LGBTI+ people are celebrated and afforded dignity, respect and equality.
Changing perceptions: I think perceptions have changed remarkably, and in a positive and affirming way. Having said that, we still have a long way to go and we can never take for granted that progress is a given, or that it cannot be rolled back.
It’s also important to acknowledge that the progress we have seen is not equitable for all in our communities and there is still significant work to be done for the trans and gender-diverse community, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI+ people, for women in our communities, and for ethnically diverse people, among many others.
Inclusive leadership: I have been the beneficiary of inclusive leaders and understand the impact that such practices can have on an individual, as well as an organisation. Of course, inclusion is good for business, organisational culture, and cohesion, but it can also have a profound impact on people’s mental health, which cannot be undervalued.
Words to describe me: Principled, determined, empathetic.
Neil Paterson APM
Deputy Commissioner, Capability, Victoria Police
“‘Coming out’ is a choice, but if you are ‘out’, then be proud and participate in all aspects of life so that others who may not be as comfortable with their sexuality can gain strength from you.”
As a deputy commissioner at Victoria Police, Neil’s role is to provide a safe community for all Victorians, and strengthen ethical health and culture within Victoria Police, through education and training. Neil is responsible for the organisation’s work with Government, ensuring policies and legislation are contemporary to police needs so that they can deliver the best possible outcomes for the community. He also leads a service delivery transformation program to ensure police continue to evolve to meet the expectations of the communities they serve.
Role models: I wasn’t ‘out’ when I joined Victoria Police in 1988 and looking back, I know I was in absolute denial about my sexuality. Back then, there were very few openly LGBTI+ police and those that were open suffered significant harm in what was a strong hypermasculine culture. In terms of policing, when I started my career, I looked up to people who had a good work ethic, treated people with respect and displayed integrity.
Advice: Policing deals with people from all walks of life. I remember being told that one of the most important skills of being a police officer is being able to talk and build rapport with anyone. Working on that skill has served me very well over the years.
Words to describe me: Loyal, thoughtful, fair.
Chimaera Capital Limited
Director, Chimaera Capital Limited. Treasurer, Transgender Victoria. Treasurer, Carlton Pride. Vice Chair, YPO’s LGBTI+ Families & Allies Network.
“I used to call ahead to warn people that I was transgender - but now my gender identity is a non-negotiable object of pride!”
Rochelle is the co-founder of Chimaera Capital Limited, an independent financial services firm. Rochelle is also the treasurer for Transgender Victoria, treasurer for Carlton Pride and vice chair of YPO’s LGBTI+ Families & Allies Network. Rochelle is passionate about sharing her journey, educating others and cultivating growth and acceptance amongst the community.
Advice: Early on, I was advised to always keep doors open and never burn bridges. Consequently, the decision to transition was extremely difficult as I could envision that it would, likely, close doors and destroy many bridges. However, I had also been told to always keep learning and through my learning I came across the wise words of Anais Nin - “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage” - and it was time to expand my life, so I did.
Inclusive leadership: Sometimes leading means stepping back and allowing space, and time, to listen and learn from others. Inclusion occurs when we recognise those who are not included and provide them with platforms to speak, be heard and to excel. Living authentically has helped me to see there are facets of diversity all around us. Just as each transgender experience is unique, so too are the experiences of every other individual I interact with. When it is possible to step back, listen and learn my life is enriched and my ability to lead improves.
Words to describe me: Driven, courageous, funny.
Senator Louise Pratt
Senator for Western Australia
Senator for Western Australia; Shadow Assistant Minister for Manufacturing and Employment Services
“We need to be brave and open about our own experiences, while also staying curious about others.”
As Shadow Minister for Manufacturing and Employment Services, Louise works closely with organisations standing up for the rights and needs of the unemployed. She advocates for manufacturing jobs by working on changes to laws, policies, government funding and strategies. Louise is passionate about using politics, government and her role as a Senator to improve people’s lives, including in the pursuit of equality and inclusion for LGBTI+ people.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: We need to be brave and open about our own experiences, while also staying curious about others. Without curiosity about the lived experience of others, there is no visibility, as people aren’t truly seen. I have been fortunate to have many brave LGBTI+ people openly share their experiences with me, so that these experiences can form the basis for visibility, which in turn informs advocacy and creates change. We can all find ways to be brave and curious, no matter how big or small these actions.
What kind of role model do you aspire to be? I work to share the feelings of inspiration and meaning that come from being involved in and committed to causes you believe in. I know I stand on the shoulders of many great Labor, union, feminist and LGBTI+ activists who have fought for change before me. They showed me that change is possible and that it’s worth being involved in making that change. I am happiest when I see people I have encouraged, encouraging others and building momentum for the things they care about.
Words to describe me: Brave, curious, fun.
Latoya Aroha Rule
Academic Educator, Researcher, and Community Organiser
Academic Educator, Researcher, and Community Organiser
“We must bring people with us and ensure we are always passing on and sharing the knowledge and resources that are provided to us.”
Latoya is a queer and non-binary, Aboriginal and Maori person. They work as an academic educator, researcher and community organiser. They are passionate about educating students on issues of social work and allied-health practice, particularly on ethical practice with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as well as supporting students in their self-development through critical and political awareness. Latoya is also the organiser of the #JusticeforFella campaign and has co-led the organisation of national and global rallies—not just for their brother, Wayne Fella Morrison, but for all Aboriginal people brutalised in custody.
Role models: My mum is my role model. A queer Aboriginal person who has overcome great battles in their life, including raising 5 kids. After the death of my brother in 2016, my mum begun establishing a ‘deaths in custody’ resource centre in Sydney for the Aboriginal community and our allies. My mum continually reminds me of what unconditional love looks like in practice.
Advice: The best advice I have received on my journey so far is to: ‘lift as you climb’, words by queer prison abolitionist Angela Davis. We must bring people with us and ensure we are always passing on and sharing the knowledge and resources that are provided to us.
I have been privileged to sit with incredible people in my short life who have given me their time, mentorship, expertise and teachings. They saw something in me that was worth fostering, many times that I have not seen in myself. It’s meant that I’ve had the capacity to follow suit.
Content Lead, ABCQueer; Reporter, 7.30 ABC TV; Board Director, Twenty10
“I aspire to be someone who helps make the world a more empathic, fair and fun place through innovative storytelling.”
Throughout her ten-year career at the ABC, Mon has had the opportunity to provide platforms for people from marginalised groups and diverse backgrounds to tell their stories. Currently, Mon leads the content and editorial direction of ABCQueer – the ABC’s social media project aimed at young LGBTI+ Australians and is a reporter for 7.30 on ABC TV. Mon is also a Board Director of Twenty10, a non-profit organisation that supports young people of diverse genders, sexualities, and/or intersex variations in NSW.
Changing perceptions: The visibility of LGBTI+ people has increased dramatically, both on and off screen. In 2017, the ABC established its first ever staff led LGBTI+ group called ‘ABC Pride’, who are committed to LGBTI+ diversity and inclusion. This year, we even marched in Mardi Gras for the first time!
I think the marriage equality movement helped grow society’s acceptance and understanding of sexuality diverse people – but there’s still a long way to go in terms of transgender equality, and many people from culturally diverse backgrounds and rural areas still face challenges.
Advice: Be aggressively you.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: We need to continue to create safe and inclusive environments whether that’s in the family home, at school, work or on the sports field. We need to call out homophobia, transphobia or any queerphobia whenever we hear it and do our best to educate ourselves and others.
What kind of role model do you aspire to be? I aspire to be someone who helps make the world a more empathic, fair and fun place through innovative storytelling.
Executive Director for Schiavello Construction and Co-chair for InterBuild.
“Conversation needs to be more inclusive of those who have more traditional views. Too often we like to stay in our circles and preach to the converted, but if we want to go far, we must go together, and that means bringing along others with us, with patience, respect and education.”
Christopher is the executive director for Schiavello Construction and co-chair for InterBuild, a network for LGBTI+ property and construction professionals and allies in Australia. Christopher is passionate about bringing LGBTI+ inclusion to the forefront of the property and construction industry and ensuring those in the industry can be their authentic and true selves at work.
Changing perceptions: The work that we have done in the property and construction industry has helped a lot. Firstly, I think everyone felt like they were the ‘only gay in the village’, but that’s not the case because we have established a growing network. Secondly, it is now evident success can be achieved irrespective of how you identify, what you look like or what your culture is. This, along with a noticeable societal cultural shift, has given people a lot more optimism and belief.
Inclusive leadership: We need more role models. We need to show this generation and the next generation that your sexual orientation shouldn’t hold you back. Don’t be scared! Get out there and find your support network. We are out there and reachable thanks to technology. We must keep the public conversations around inclusion going. We need to make sure they are positive, professional and break down the stereotypes associated with the LGBTI+ community.
Words to describe me: Determined, compassionate, honest.
Founding CEO, Minus18
“One day when I was really struggling to come up with the words to say for a broadcast, I was told, “speak from the heart, and people will listen.” This advice resonated with me and has helped me bring vulnerability to my work every day.”
Micah is the founding CEO of Minus18, a charity improving the lives of LGBTI+ youth. Micah leads the day to day operations of the charity which focuses on life-affirming events, school workshops, workplace training and creating digital peer-led resources.
Role models: I’m fortunate to have had some exceptional queer women as my mentors and role models over the past 12 years. Roz Ward, the founder of Safe Schools, taught me to be strong and resilient when responding to challenges. Jenny O'Keefe was my producer while I was volunteering at a radio station as a teenager. One day I was really struggling to come up with the words to say for a broadcast, Jenny told me to “speak from the heart, and people will listen.” This advice resonated with me and has helped me bring vulnerability to my work every day.
Changing perceptions: I’ve been in my role for 12 years now, and there’s been some great wins in terms of LGBTI+ inclusion in Australia, that have contributed to a growing acceptance of the LGBTI+ community. Workplaces and community groups are bringing a more inclusive view into their organisational strategies, and we’re seeing more visibility within the LGBTI+ community. Unfortunately, this experience of inclusion isn’t the same for all identities, particularly trans and gender diverse people, people of colour, and people living in regional and remote areas. There’s more work to do in these spaces, which has been a renewed focus at Minus18.
Jackie Leach Scully
Professor of Bioethics and Director of the Disability Innovation Institute, UNSW
“The organisations that are most effective, and the ones I respect most, have worked steadily towards greater inclusion for everyone, sometimes over decades.”
Jackie is a Professor of Bioethics and Director of the Disability Innovation Institute (DIIU) at the University of NSW (UNSW). As Professor of Bioethics, Jackie leads research into a range of bioethical issues including assisted reproduction, gene editing, artificial intelligence and global health emergencies. As Director of the DIIU, Jackie also heads a centre that supports research into improving the lives of people with disabilities, running research activities within UNSW, across Australia and internationally. The Institute is located within UNSW’s Division of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and aims to ensure that disability is taken seriously as part of our community’s efforts towards inclusion.
Changing perceptions: Over the course of my career, perceptions of those around me have changed massively in relation to LGBTI+ inclusion. When I was starting out, there was very much a sense that ‘deviant’ sexual orientations or gender identifications were something to keep quiet about because they really were seen as deviance. There is now much more acknowledgement of the value of diversity and difference, and effort on the part of organisations and companies to demonstrate inclusivity.
Reflecting on 2020 – inspiration despite the challenges: I’ve been inspired by the way that so many people have been looking out for each other and, in many cases, being willing to disadvantage themselves (for example, going into lockdown) so that more vulnerable members of the community can stay safe.
Words to describe me: Loyal, determined, sparky.
Saint Mark's Anglican Church Fitzroy
Parish Priest, Saint Mark's Anglican Church Fitzroy
“All who are vulnerable need those with freedoms to be open, confident, authentic and unafraid. It’s how we need to be, to advocate for those who cannot do it themselves.”
Stuart is the parish priest for Saint Mark's Anglican Church Fitzroy, guiding and caring for the spiritual and community life of his parish. A passionate figure for living an authentic life, Stuart demonstrates in his actions and life how spirituality and sexuality can be integrated in one’s identity.
Role models: Other LGBTI+ priests and their partners have let me see what a grounded and integrated spiritual life could be for a person who is ordained. They helped me see there was no contradiction in being gay and being a priest.
On inclusive leadership: I’ve gained so much from seeing LGBTI+ people in leadership positions like mine. It lets those of us who are fragile or 'on the edge' of life know that there are ways and places where we can be safe.
Not everyone has the confidence or support (whether that be from family or colleagues) to be themselves at work – what advice would you give to them? I fully acknowledge how oppressive some workplaces can be in culture and perspective. While not exhaustive, I would say the following things are important to me: Be strong and hold fast your dignity. You are made in the image of God, just as you are, and no one can take away or belittle your beauty. And to reinforce this point – you are wonderful whether you are a person of faith or not. Resist being defined or pressured by others. Seek out those who respect and love you for who you are to balance out your life.
Victorian Pride Lobby
Co-convener, Victorian Pride Lobby
“Our community is full of fighters, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”
Nevena is the co-convener of the Victorian Pride Lobby. Nevena coordinates the work of the Victorian Pride Lobby, a community-based advocacy group that works towards equality, social justice, and advancing human rights for lesbian, gay, queer, bisexual, and same-sex attracted Victorians. She is passionate about working alongside the community to fight for social justice and supporting grassroots movements that advocate for LGBTI+ rights, climate justice, and the fight against structural disadvantage.
Role models: At my first corporate role in 2006, I was incredibly fortunate to work alongside a trans colleague who was also part of the executive leadership team. As a leader, she had an immeasurable impact on the organisation and the people around her as she advocated for meaningful and significant structural change to improve the lives of LGBTI+ employees.
Working with her in the early days of my career provided me with an understanding of how to bring my activism into the workplace and taught me the importance of challenging organisations to live up to their values to improve the working conditions of all employees. Thanks to her advocacy, this workplace introduced a ‘Gender Affirmation Leave Policy’ nearly 15 years ago, which remains in place to this day.
Advice: The advice I’ve been given that’s impacted me the most is be bold, be you, and knowing when to step up is just as important as knowing when to move aside.
Words to describe me: Bold, exuberant, determined.
The Pinnacle Foundation
Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director - The Pinnacle Foundation and Non-Executive Chair of SHK Asia Pacific
“I like to listen, encourage and cause others to reflect. So many times, people have the answers themselves - and making them feel confident about reaching a decision is a powerful thing.”
Andrew is the chief executive and managing director of the Pinnacle Foundation, which provides educational scholarships, mentoring and opportunities for young LGBTI+ Australians, to help them realise their full potential and overcome challenges arising from their identity. Andrew is also the non-executive chair of SHK Asia Pacific, a specialist people advisory firm that he co-founded in 2007.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: The importance of actively promoting inclusiveness is paramount, backed up by tangible actions to support others. Showing that you are respectful of people who may be different to you, and supporting them when they need it, is a huge start. Calling out offensive behaviours is also incredibly important.
Inclusive leadership: I like to listen, encourage and cause others to reflect. So many times, people have the answers themselves - and making them feel confident about reaching a decision is a powerful thing. Showing my own vulnerabilities usually helps inspire confidence in others to express themselves more freely. I also believe that role-modelling the behaviours you expect from others is vital. This includes apologising (and learning from your mistakes) when you get something wrong yourself.
Words to describe me: Energetic, conscientious, maybe funny.
ACT Minister for Transport, Minister for Skills and Special Minister of State
“I received advice early on in my career to “put on your armour”. This was the advice given to me when I first ran for office and it’s all about having a calm and resilient mentality in the face of adversity.”
Chris is the ACT Minister for Transport, Minister for Skills and Special Minister of State. Chris is passionate about early childhood education and worked as an early childhood advocate prior to starting his role within the ACT Parliament. He’s proud of the new changes to pre-schooling that will give children the education opportunities they deserve. Through his multi-faceted role, Chris is working on banning the use of plastics through to major infrastructure projects, such as the introduction of the light rail.
Passions: I’m passionate about early childhood education. I worked as an early childhood advocate prior to coming into the ACT parliament. The visible emergence of inequality starts to open at age three, before children even enter the classroom for the first time. That’s where we need to start giving children the education opportunities. I’m so proud that we have just won an election to deliver two years of preschool to every child.
Advice: I received advice early on in my career to “put on your armour”. This was the advice given to me when I first ran for office and it’s all about having a calm and resilient mentality in the face of adversity. Whether I’m doorknocking for marriage equality or withstanding the most potent attacks by the other political side, it’s served me well.
Words to describe me: Sanguine and hard working.
Dr Elise Stephenson
Postdoctoral Fellow at the Policy Innovation Hub, Griffith University, and co-founder of Social Good Outpost.
“It’s important to ask, "who's not in the room right now?" If they’re not, why not? How can we advocate for their interests anyway? And how can we ensure they are included next time?"
Elise is a strategist, researcher and social entrepreneur and has been recognised for her extensive research and entrepreneurship around gender equality, LGBTI+ inclusion, and foreign policy. Elise has also been formally recognised for her achievements including named Griffith University's Outstanding Young Alumni of 2020, one of 25 Young Women to Watch in International Affairs, and an Out for Australia 30 under 30 LGBTI+ Role Models, among other notable awards.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: You've got to get the policies right, but you also need to focus on practices and culture. In most cases you can't produce meaningful organisational change without both. Whilst changing culture and practices is something that needs to be undertaken at quite a personal and communal level, there’s a lot that organisations can do from the top. Organisations need to ensure their policies have been reviewed with a 'gender lens', an 'LGBTI+ inclusive lens' or even a 'racial lens' to understand how these policies affect and can better support specific communities. It’s also important to ask, "who's not in the room right now?" If they’re not, why not? How can we advocate for their interests anyway? And how can we ensure they are included next time?
Words to describe me: Creative, adventurous, kind.
Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation
Chief Operating Officer and Company Secretary, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation; Board Member, The Pinnacle Foundation
“Support for the LGBTI+ community is much more comfortably demonstrated now. When I was younger, even if support was there, it was often quiet and not spoken about out loud. I hope we can continue to make these conversations more open and comfortable.”
Driven by a mission to do something ‘good’ through his work, Mark makes a tangible difference to the lives of others through his role as COO and company secretary for the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation. Mark is responsible for the finance, IT, HR and facilities management of the organisation across three sites and is passionate about helping those around him grow, personally and professionally, and speaking up for those who need a helping hand. Mark is also on the board of the Pinnacle Foundation, an organisation helping the young LGBTI+ community through scholarships and mentor support.
Changing perceptions: Support for the LGBTI+ community is much more comfortably demonstrated now. When I was younger, even if support was there, it was often quiet and not spoken about out loud. I hope we can continue to make these conversations more open and comfortable.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: We can all play a part in LGBTI+ inclusion by not shying away from our identities, speaking up when there are opportunities, and showing the world that LGBTI+ has so many facets, and each of those is brilliant in its own way.
Words to describe me: Loyal, honest, cheeky.
Chairperson of the Mercer Pride Business Resource Group and the Asia Pacific Regional lead
“There is a better and deeper understanding of our community, and people are more willing to come to the party, be active allies, and stand up to discrimination in all of its forms.”
Lauren is the chairperson of Mercer Australia’s Pride Business Resource Group and the Asia Pacific Regional lead. Lauren is responsible for curating and delivering the firm’s pride purpose – which is 'creating a safe and inclusive culture that leaves a lasting legacy for everyone.' Lauren is also a product owner, looking after superannuation operational communications for all the firm’s clients and customers.
Advice: The best advice I received early on, was that I can't force people to change. I can't demand that they change because 'it's the right thing to do' - I need to find common ground, connect with someone, and then start to share experiences to help with awareness and understanding. I was young and a bit of a bull in a china shop, I couldn't understand why people didn't understand. Communication is key!
Reflecting on 2020 – inspiration despite the challenges: The strength that people have shown, this year in particular, has been next-level inspiring. The determination to keep going, even in the darkest moments of 2020, has meant that we kept delivering on our strategy and purpose.
A turning point for us was the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd's murder happening at the start of June, which was Pride Month. That was when we launched "Allyship: It's not a noun." We knew we had to do more.
Words to describe me: Honest, caring, positive.
Partner, Risk Advisory, Deloitte Australia
“Having LGBTI+ role models can have a transformative impact on creating truly inclusive workplace cultures and communities.”
David is a partner at Deloitte Australia, leading a successful practice of risk specialists who work with organisations undertaking transformation programs. David is also a partner champion for Deloitte’s internal LGBTI+ community (GLOBE), both in Canberra and Brisbane and an active member of the firm’s LGBTI+ Mentor Program.
Having LGBTI+ role models can have a transformative impact on creating truly inclusive workplace cultures and communities. I think we often underestimate the impact that visibility can have to people. I hope to continue to show its okay to be your true self and that who you are should not be a limit to what you can achieve.
Changing perceptions: I have experienced an exciting and positive change in the understanding and acceptance of the LGBTI+ community. The community has evolved, and we now have the voice to demand to be heard, to be visible, and to achieve acceptance and equality in many countries where it was never possible before. This has provided greater opportunities for the LGBTI+ community across many organisations to become their best selves in their chosen professions.
LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: Even today, in the LGBTI+ community, it’s important for people who are on their personal journeys to discovering their best selves to have visible LGBTI+ role models. Everyone can play a part through a greater understanding of diversity and inclusion of others.
Words to describe me: Authentic, resilient, trusted.
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