Did you Break the Silence on IDAHOBIT, Get Your Purple on for WIP Day or Listen and learn from First Nations people this year? If you did, you’ve probably met a member of the Macquarie University Ally Network.
More than 150 Macquarie staff became Allies in 2020, substantially exceeding membership expectations and bringing the Network’s total to more than 450 staff and students.
Their goal and vision? Raise awareness of the issues faced by members of the LGBTIQ+ community, and help foster an inclusive campus where all people can safely work and study free of harassment or discrimination.
For LGBTIQ+ people, who experience higher levels of depression and anxiety compared to the rest of the population, COVID-19 has disrupted social networks inside and outside of the workplace, intensifying social isolation.
The Ally Network Steering Committee had an extensive agenda of events planned for 2020, to keep Allies educated, engaged and visible. But with COVID-19 postponing many of these initiatives, the focus became very clear: keeping the community together and ensuring that support and resources available at Macquarie were shared on a regular basis.
Vice-Chancellor Professor S. Bruce Dowton says that Macquarie’s sense of community – supported by groups like the Ally Network – has been a defining feature of 2020.
“One of the unique things about Macquarie is its strong sense of community where everyone plays an important role in creating a supportive and inclusive workplace,” he says. “During these times of uncertainty our University community has demonstrated resilience and working collaboratively to meet our collective goals.
“I would like to acknowledge the University’s work and progress made towards LGBTIQ+ Inclusion, with more than 450 staff and students now part of the Ally Network. Thank you to all Allies at Macquarie who, despite the challenges, have found time and energy to help support others and worked particularly hard to make Macquarie a safer and a more inclusive place for all.”
The Allies themselves have experienced their own benefits in being part of the Network community.
“Attending the online events and training sessions was a fantastic way to stay connected to my colleagues around the University, while meeting new people,” says Lachlan Bosi, Fitness and Community Programs Manager in Campus Life.
“It’s a privilege being part of a collective designed to help others find a community and encourage positive cultural change in and beyond the campus. Watching my own team members join the Ally Network and share their inclusive practises with our community members has been brilliant to witness”.
Looking ahead to 2021
One thing is clear, Macquarie University has more walking rainbow lanyards than ever before and the Ally Network Steering Committee is taking a deep dive into engagement strategies for 2021.
“The network focuses on three key themes, education, engagement and visibility, and these are all underpinned by our desire to build community and belonging on campus,” says Sophie Curtis, Chair of the Ally Steering Committee and Campus Life Manager, Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Belonging.
“With more than 450 staff and students now part of the network, our opportunities to create impactful and sustainable change grows, and we can’t wait to work with our new and existing Allies.
We have a lot of work to do and we encourage all Macquarie staff to be part of it!”