October 2020

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Advance Diversity Services (ADS) is partnering with the University of Wollongong (UOW) to enhance the ability of the settlement and community services sectors to serve the needs of CALD LGBTIQA+ communities.

The joint research project, funded by UOW’s Community Engagement Grants Scheme, aims to understand gaps in the knowledge and skills of diversity service workers when servicing culturally diverse LGBTIQ+ communities in the context of COVID-19.

‘This is a wonderful opportunity to pilot a collaborative approach to understanding the level of LGBTIQA+ acceptance, knowledge and skills of ADS’s service workers,’ said Anthony Scerri, ADS’s Manager for Settlement and Community Services.

‘Once we identify gaps, we can effectively target staff training. Our ultimate aim is to ensure people from CALD LGBTIQ+ communities receive the services they need and feel welcome and included.’

Dr Quah Ee Ling Sharon, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, School of Humanities and Social Inquiry, is leading the research project. Dr Qua is a Singaporean-Chinese queer migrant woman academic whose work draws from decolonial, transnational and intersectional feminist perspectives and centres round community-based research, inequalities and social justice.

She said she was happy to be collaborating with ADS on the project to bring better outcomes for CALD LGBTIQA+ people.

Three innovative projects were chosen for UOW’s 2020 Community Engagement Grants Scheme launched at a virtual celebration on October 22.

Monique Harper-Richardson, Director of Advancement, UOW, and President of the UOW’s USA Foundation, said the quality of this year’s applications for grants was ‘at the highest level’ and all projects funded focused on resilience and recovery for communities affected by COVID-19.

‘These are extraordinary projects and I’m incredibly excited. I also extend my sincere congratulations to the three recipients.’

Special guest at the celebration Dr Belinda Kathlyn Gibbons, Senior Lecturer Faculty of Business, Sydney Business School, UOW, said the grants would help to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals ‘to care for all things and to leave no one behind’.

Mr Scerri said the pandemic had been hard on many in the community and especially marginalised people from diverse backgrounds.

‘This research will help to ensure LGBTIQA+ people from CALD backgrounds receive the best and most appropriate service possible.’

Caption 1: Dr Quah Ee Ling Sharon, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Wollongong (UOW) at the virtual launch of a new UOW-ADS research project.

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On October 19, Advance Diversity Services (ADS) was presented with two major awards in the 2020 Australian LGBTQ Inclusion Awards held at the Hyatt Regency in Sydney.

ADS was chosen as the HWEI Gold Employer and HWEI Service Provider of the Year – great tributes to the work it has been doing to improve its services and practices to support people who identify with a diverse gender and/or sexuality (LGBTIQA+).

Anthony Scerri, Manager, Settlement and Community Services, and Michael Cheung, Corporate Services Manager, were proud to receive the awards on behalf of ADS.

Mr Scerri said COVID-19 restrictions meant award recipients were initially announced during a virtual ceremony on June 11, so it was great to attend the more recent ‘live’ ceremony to celebrate ADS’s achievements.

‘In my speech, I was pleased to communicate how just far ADS has come in its journey towards inclusion of LGBTIQA+ people and of our desire to be a lighthouse to other CALD providers.’

Mr Scerri said one example of ADS’ educational leadership was the Pride in My Faith video project ADS is producing to help illustrate how for many people from CALD backgrounds faith and religion are entwined in culture.

‘The project features interviews with CALD LGBTQIA+ people who have embraced their queerness and faith and aims to help service providers make their policies, practices and environments safe and visibly accepting of LGBTIQA+ people.’

Another example of ADS’s commitment to inclusion was its recent partnership with the University of Wollongong in a COVID-19 / LGBTIQA+ research project, which will help ADS target effective inclusiveness training for its staff, Mr Scerri said.

The LGBTQ Inclusion Awards celebrate Australia’s top organisations for LGBTQ inclusion based on the results of the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) and Australian Health + Wellbeing Equality Index (HWEI). They also acknowledge leaders, individuals and networks that have made a significant impact on LGBTQ inclusion within their workplaces.

The awards are run by Pride in Diversity, a social inclusion initiative of ACON.

In 2020, the Covid-safe awards ceremony attracted over 750 CEOs, dignitaries, senior executives, HR and diversity practitioners, employee network leaders and members of LGBTQ employee networks and allies. It was hosted by SBS World News presenter, Ricardo Goncalves, and featured the winner of The Voice 2016, singer/songwriter Alfie Arcuri. 

Caption: Anthony Scerri and Michael Cheung, Corporate Services Manager receive Advance Diversity Services’ HWEI Gold Employer and HWEI Service Provider of the Year awards at the 2020 Australian LGBTQ Inclusion Awards in October.