Welcome to Pride Week 2020 – Transcript
Video Start: 1min33sec
Ellie Watts, MC:
Hi Everyone and Good Morning, thank you for joining us here today and welcome to RMIT Pride Week, my name is Ellie Watts and my pronouns are she/her. I will be your MC for today as we hold the first event of the week – kicking off RMIT Pride. Now, Our theme for today’s event is community – we want to acknowledge the value that having a community plays in all of our lives.
Especially at university where you welcome students from all over the world – there really is a huge value in finding a community and feeling a place to belong. We’ll hear a little more about that today as RUSU Queer Officer Kinston Goh shares his story.
Now, during this time when we are physically distant from our colleagues, friends, families, chosen families, and groups that give us a place to belong - it’s more important than ever to gather virtually to celebrate this week.
So as we get together today, I first would like to acknowledge the people of the Woi Worrung language group of the Eastern Kulin Nations where I currently work and make my home. I would also like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands and waters across Australia where you all are joining from today and I respectfully acknowledge their Ancestors and Elders, past, present and emerging.I acknowledge that the lands we are conducting our business today remain unceded.
Now, as we begin, I’ll just say a bit about me, because who doesn’t like to talk about themselves for a little bit - I am a Relationship Manager with Pride in Diversity, now Pride in Diversity is Australia's first and only national not-for-profit employer support program for all aspects of LGBTQI workplace inclusion. We operate over all sectors of the Australian workforce, and for me personally I wear many hats in this role and I work closely with people in Human Resources, diversity professionals, and LGBTIQ network leaders on all aspects of LGBTIQ inclusion. Now as I said, I wear many hats in this role and my role is quite diverse and I work across training and education, strategy, policy, and organisational change as well. Just to share a little bit of my own story today and why community is so important for me. So myself, I’m a neurodiverse bisexual woman – and when I say neurodiverse, I have ADHD and I’m also on the Autism Spectrum. I also grew up in regional Queensland, and growing up in a bit more of an isolated area and – you know, with the other intersections with being bisexual and neurodiverse I unfortunately have experienced firsthand- the negative impacts of not being your true authentic self out in the world and, you know, particularly the in the workplace. Because of those experiences I’m fiercely passionate about exploring the intersectionality across multiple minorities some of you may have heard of this area before and it's also known as the double glass ceiling effect, and really for me when it comes to community just how important the power of visible role models can have to make a really impactful and meaningful difference to the lives with LGBTIQ people you know whether it's in the workplace or in universities as well. Over the past years since I've been working with Pride in Diversity I worked really closely with the RMIT Diversity and Inclusion teams to discuss the University strategy for diverse genders, sexes, and sexualities inclusion also known as DGSS which I'm sure a lot of you are familiar with. Now, during this time I've learned just about everything there is to know about RMIT, and for me I consider that something pretty impressive as I know there's a lot of really amazing work going on at RMIT, and personally I'm really proud to see the progress at the University continues to make to support inclusion. Pride Week is a fantastic example of that. This week is all about gathering together, honouring the stories of the DGSS community and celebrating what makes RMIT unique -- the people, the thousands of staff, students, and alumni who make up the diverse RMIT community.
And just a little bit about Pride Week before we get into our guest speakers. So in this time when we gather from our own Weelam, camp, or meeting place, and we meet through alternative and accessible communication methods we've had to get a little bit creative and how we celebrate Pride Week this year. I really hope that throughout this week you can connect with those closest to you maybe wear something rainbow or fly a rainbow flag invite your colleagues families or house mates to get involved and really share what inclusion means to you. We encourage you to take photos or screenshots and share on social media using the hash tag RMIT pride (#RMITPRIDE). There's also some really great links available on the Diversity and Inclusion Yammer page, some of those including some links to some pretty cool Microsoft Teams backgrounds so I definitely recommend those and encourage to check those out. And we'll talk about this throughout today's session, but I really encourage you all the checkout the Pride Week event page on ‘rmit.edu.au/prideweek’ to find everything happening this week. Now, my personal favourites are pride trivia this afternoon I believe that's at 4 o'clock but you can find more information about that online, Queer Cheer with the RMIT cheerleading club tomorrow, and a webinar to learn about trans and gender diverse inclusion in health.
Now for those of you who haven't already completed the RMIT Ally training consider this session on Thursday to join the 400 other staff who make up the RMIT Ally Network: a group who work to advocate for the inclusion of DGSS staff and students. I don't want to give too much away because as I said there's a whole heap of stuff happening for RMIT Pride Week I'll hold off on the rest of the promotions for now.
Now since I started consulting with RMIT last year I've had the privilege of meeting so many members of the RMIT community and this morning I finally had the opportunity to meet Martin Bean, the Vice Chancellor and President of RMIT University. Now, hopefully you all are familiar with the Vice Chancellor, if not you're about to be very, very soon, and I know that the Vice Chancellor has been active advocate for inclusion since day one. So, with that, I will now hand over to RMIT Vice Chancellor and President Martin bean, thanks Martin.
Martin Bean, RMIT Vice Chancellor and President:
Hey, thank you very much Ellie, I really appreciate it and thanks so much for the great introductory remarks - and Womin Jika Everybody and Welcome to Pride Week!
You know, it feels like just the other day that I joined the crowds at the Midsumma pride March in Saint Kilda and it's just for all of us, it's so hard to believe how much in our lives has changed since then. This is our third annual Pride event and I tell you; we're not going to let COVID-19 stop a week of celebration for our students and staff. I know you'll be hearing a lot about what's planned and I encourage you to participate as much as you possibly can through, through the week. While things may feel a little different this year the message remains absolutely the same: at RMIT it's our extraordinary and passionate people who make us who we are, and the more diverse we are the more extraordinary we are. It's that simple, and yet in many ways it's that complicated.
During this time while we're working and studying apart it's more important than ever that we come together like this to celebrate. I don't know about you, but for me campus life is a big source of energy and I miss it a lot. I'm also mindful that some members of our DGSS community are experiencing additional stress. In particular, those whose support comes from their community and their peers, more than from the people they share a physical home with, or if they are living alone perhaps Acceptance and connection should be hard wired into our personal lives, but we know that's not always the case. So please, make sure to reach out use the great technology we have, and connect with people. While we may not be able to meet in person today, we should still pause and celebrate our progress, and I'd like to take just a few minutes to reflect on how far we've come.
We've recently had a strong uplift in the Times Higher Education impact rankings, which are designed to showcase how universities are working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and I'm proud to say we ranked number one in the world for reducing inequality and increasing participation of underrepresented groups. And, equal fifth for our efforts to end workplace discrimination based on religion, sexuality, gender, and age.
We were also recognised as an employer of the year in 2019 for LGBTI inclusion with Pride in Diversity and we're continuing to make sure it's well deserved. We've partnered with organisations like Minus 18 to support young people who identify as diverse genders, sexes, and sexuality, and Out for Australia, to support mentoring opportunities for DGSS professionals. With the help of some wonderful volunteers we've published a new online learning module DGSS introduction so all of our stuff can build their confidence and what it means to be inclusive. We've pledged to take a stand against homophobia in sport and submitted our first ever Pride in Sport Index. We’ve also launched a new Trans Ally Guide and a dedicated website full of resources to support our trans and gender diverse staff and students. Now and always we'll continue our efforts to ensure all our spaces both on campus and digital are safe places for everyone. In the last few years, we've achieved so much together and many of you have gone above and beyond to speak up for what's right. Our community is that much better because of your courage so I want to thank you all for everything you do to bring our value of inclusion to life, this includes the countless people who have collaborated to put this week's activities and events together.
My promise to our community remains the same: we must accept nothing less than an RMIT where all our staff and students feel they belong and are celebrated for who they are. Let's really celebrate the values that diversity brings to our University in the greater contribution we make in the world because of it. We have so many reasons to be proud at RMIT. Keep your voices raised and your spirits high because in RMIT especially in tough times we're better together. Noon Gudgin, thank you and please take good care of yourselves and those you love. Back to you, Ellie
Ellie Watts, MC:
Fantastic! Thanks so much, Martin. It's really great to hear your commitment to DGSS inclusion as a leader. And yeah, there really was a lot to reflect on what you said there, and as you said this so many reasons for everybody at RMIT to be proud of what they're doing. And one thing that you mentioned there, and I'm going to quote you on this cause I think it's a really meaningful quote, is “the more diverse we are the more extraordinary we are” and I think that really rings true for this particular type of work and particularly given what's going on in the world right now with COVID-19 -something that we can really hold onto and kind of power on with our journey ahead as a University. RMIT really does have a unique opportunity to make an impact as you mentioned there, with RMIT achieving employer of the year last year with Pride in Diversity, with Australian workplace equality index. So, a really phenomenal achievement, and I know, I've been able to see behind the scenes the amount of work that's been going on in that space. And yeah, so much, so many reasons to be proud of the work that you doing there at RMIT.
Thank you again, Martin. It was really fantastic to hear from you this morning. Enough me for now, and with that I would now like to welcome our next speaker RUSU Queer Officer Student, Kingston, is going to share some of his story, over to you Kingston.
Kingston, RUSU Queer Officer:
Hi, and thank you Ellie, so are my name is Kingston and I'm from the Student Union and my pronouns are he/him.
And community, I feel like we all can agree on the importance of coming together and having a sense of belonging to a group. And I'm going to talk about my personal story today, and a sense of belonging used to be a foreign concept to me: that that feeling of not being accepted, and that feeling of you not being in, that people telling you that you do not belong in the place lingered until I came to Australia in 2017.
When I first came here it was a total 180, being in Malaysia compared to staying in Australia. Because in Malaysia it was not socially acceptable to freely choose and believe that you are who you are. But who said that this was ever choice?
Living in Malaysia also meant that I was living in the heteronormative society an overall it was just very suffocating and depressing to me. Coming to Australia in 2017 was also the year when same sex marriage in Australia was legalised and I was fortunate enough to be a part of that. When the votes were announced I was more than just happy because it felt like a victory, and it was. Sitting outside the trade union along Lygon Street, with a sea of rainbow, that was when I felt that I was, without any condition, being accepted for who I am. Back then I wasn't out to anyone, because of fear and denial, but I still wanted to be an ally to the queer community. I don't know what it meant to be to feel liberated and free until 2018 when I first started my first year of Uni that year. I finally came out to most of my friends and I message to my sister that I was gay, at that moment I thought to myself “wow I am finally worthy of being a part of the queer community”. I still remember my first Pride Week, organised by RUSU, in 2018, and how it took me at least 5 minutes to get out the courage to walk towards the Queer Department stall. There and then I got my first rainbow pin, and as funny as it sounds, I was so happy that I got my first rainbow pin, it meant so much to me. And it meant that we're being heard and that we are being seen and that we exist and at that moment I realised that I belong.
I knew that RMIT was the place that we could just be ourselves and a series of events happened that just let me that let me to have an opportunity to become the RUSU Officer and I knew that I wanted to the community. Long story short, I volunteered for RUSU and I got involved with the student union election where I was campaigning for Kelsey, some of you may know her when she was running for the queer officer position, and fast forward two years I am now the queer officer in my second term. And as I stand here today, I am still driven by my conviction to provide that sense of belonging and community to our students that I once hoped for. Throughout my time as the queer officer we've hosted events workshops and we also offer referrals to make sure that people in the queer collective feel safe and that they have somewhere to go. I’m just going to keep this short, and in hindsight it's amazing to see how my journey unravel from being an international student who knew almost nothing about the queer community to becoming the queer officer of a student union. So whether it’s the RMIT rainbow lanyard, or with someone saying “yasss queen!” I'm always reminded to be grateful and I belong to a beautiful colour community that probably call mine thank you I'll hand it back to Ellie, now.
Ellie Watts, MC:
Fantastic! Thank you so much, Kingston, and really, thank you for sharing your story. I know how much, I guess courage and vulnerability, it takes to, you know, open yourself up and just share quite a personal experience with, you know, the worldwide web.
Thank you for taking the time and to be courageous and be vulnerable and sharing your story. It’s really impressive what you managed to achieve in a very short space of time. You know, coming to Australia starting at University you joining, you know, RUSU, and then not just even joining RUSU but you're leading the way. So again, a really great example of you being a really fantastic role model for the RMIT community so huge thank you from me on behalf of RMIT.
I really just to reflect on what Kingston said there about the important importance of finding a community. And really, I guess to iterate that, community does look like something different for everybody. Whether, you know, it's a physical space when you're coming in on campus every day, for some people that could be online spaces are really important for a lot of the queer community. It's this concept of ‘found family’ is really important for community. And, I guess, really everybody for today as we know our theme for today's event is community and I would really I guess encourage you to take a step back and kind of think about what community means for you.
As you continue through this week I hope you all find a sense of Noogal or belonging in celebrating what it means to be yourself with those around you. I really encourage you to take this week as an opportunity to share your stories, just like Kingston has done, share your stories on social media using the hash tag RMIT Pride (#RMITPRIDE) and find the events that suit you best on rmit.edu.au/prideweek. Join in for the daily morning teas, activities with RMIT Sport, or Rainbow Story Time for kids.
Really just to wrap up our session today a really big thank you both to Martin and to Kingston for coming along to today's session, for sharing your storys’ and really leading the way in being such incredible role models for the community here at RMIT. To everybody joining in on today's session thank you for joining us here today to start RMIT Pride Week and as I said, check out some of everything that's available on the Diversity and Inclusion Yammer Pages, and also on the Pride Week website. As well, thank you again, thank you to our speakers and I hope you have an amazing Pride Week at RMIT, thank you.
The following instructions will assist you to control the video player using the keyboard.
Starting and stopping the video
- Use the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination to navigate the video player controls.
- Navigate to the Play button using the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination.
- Press the Spacebar or Enter key to toggle between play and pause.
- Navigate to the closed captions button using the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination.
- Press the Spacebar or Enter key to open the closed captions menu.
- Navigate to the preferred close captions option using the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination.
- Press the Spacebar or Enter key to activate the close caption option.
- Navigate to the volume slider using the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination.
- Press the left or right arrow to decrease and increase the volume.
- Navigate to the full screen button using the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination.
- Press the Spacebar or Enter key to toggle between full screen video and normal size.