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Annual Report 2014–15

Feature Articles

—Pathway to Change implementation

Respecting sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex diversity at the 2015 Mardi Gras parade

Defence is committed to being an employer of choice. Capability is enhanced by employing the best people for the job, which in turn is achieved through accessing the entire talent pool for prospective candidates. In order to get the most out of the workforce, everyone needs to feel valued and included, contributing at their maximum potential. So it is vital that organisations like Defence continue to evolve and reflect the Australian community.

One way Defence demonstrates its support for its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) members is to allow military members to march in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in uniform, accompanied by their friends and family.

This year saw the largest-ever contingent to march in the Mardi Gras—more than 110 Australian Defence Force members, and 40 Defence employees and family members. The group was led by the senior enlisted members of Defence for the first time: Warrant Officer of the Navy, Martin Holzberger; Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army, Warrant Officer David Ashley; and Warrant Officer of the Air Force, Mark Pentreath.

The ADF officer in charge of the parade and president of the Defence LGBTI Information Service, Squadron Leader Vince Chong, said he was proud to see the ADF and Defence community contingent growing each year.

‘The growing participation at this parade by members across the entire spectrum of the Defence workforce shows that our culture continues to change for the better’, said Vince.

‘The presence and support of the most senior enlisted ADF members at the Mardi Gras parade demonstrates how serious the ADF is about respecting sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex diversity.’

The evolving and improving culture was recognised in 2015, with Defence awarded an equal top public sector employer for LGBTI people by the Australian Workplace Equality Index. Defence also ranked as a top 20 LGBTI employer for the first time. The index is compiled annually by support agency Pride in Diversity, and evaluates and benchmarks LGBTI inclusion practice in Australian workplaces.

Defence also participates in community events, including the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia and Wear it Purple, to increase visibility of LGBTI personnel and encourage positive workplace behaviour.

Defence will continue to build on its progress to date in creating and sustaining a diverse and inclusive workplace where Defence people can bring their whole self to work and feel comfortable to be themselves, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.