One of the great joys of working at VicWater is the opportunity to host and/or participate in events that bring together people from across our industry to connect, learn, share and celebrate with each other.
Last week I was honoured to MC an online event for Wear It Purple Day, an annual LGBTIQ+ awareness day especially for young people. The event was a collaboration between 11 Victorian water corporations and VicWater, and featured an engaging and thought-provoking presentation by guest speaker Nevo Zisin, a queer, non-binary, Jewish writer, performer, activist and public speaker. Nevo spoke eloquently about their life journey and the way their experiences have shaped their thinking about gender identity and sexuality. I was particularly struck by Nevo’s insights into how gender assumptions and expectations can impact and restrict all our lives, whether or not we are part of the LGBTIQ+ community.
We were fortunate to have Lara Olsen (South East Water), Elisa Bourke (IWN) and Jack Cunnington (Greater Western Water) join Nevo for a panel discussion about LGBTIQ+ inclusion in our industry. Through their generous and open sharing, we leared that simple things like using inclusive language and pronouns, being visible in our allyship, and treating everyone with kindness and empathy can help us to build a strong culture of respect, inclusion and connection so that everyone feels valued and can be their authentic self.
All Victorian water corporations are invested and aligned with the Water Industry Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy 2019-2023 which specifically calls out LGBTIQ+ inclusion and targets. Across the water industry there are some great initiatives taking place, from LGBTIQ+ action plans, to organisational Pride networks, the introduction of gender affirmation leave for our colleagues who are transitioning gender and the creation of all gender bathrooms.
VicWater will continue to work with our members, through our Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee and other groups, to provide collaborative opportunities like the Wear It Purple Day event to keep building awareness and knowledge so that we can all play our part in making the water industry a safe and inclusive place for our people, our customers and community.