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Williamtown Chaplains Lead Inclusion

2015 05 10 ACONSafePlace

A recent training session in Williamtown closed knowledge gaps about LGBTI personnel for chaplaincy centre staff, base and DEFGLIS personnel.

Mr Ross Wetherbee from Pride In Diversity presented on a range of topics including terminology, workplace challenges and requirements for an LGBTI inclusive working environment.

Wetherbee’s background is in corporate banking. He offerred insights from this industry and his practical experience to benefit members present.

The session began with the members in the room detailing their knowledge of everything LGBTI and where they felt they fitted on a scale of zero being nothing, and ten being “I could deliver the presentation”.

Most participants indicated low figures on this scale of self-knowledge, but these gaps in the knowledge were able to be narrowed throughout the training session.

The session highlighted and detailed the terms Intersex, Queer, Pansexual and less common identifies such as "two spirit” which is a Native American term for one who is man/woman and then gave the attendees of the session a detailed understanding of the terms.

Chaplain Wing Commander Stéphane Sarazin said the the course was essential to run as current knowledge throughout the workforce was quite limited.

“I think we can fairly say that the Chaplain Centre is ‘OUT’ not only in Williamtown but to the greater RAAF world and it offers a visible sign of inclusion to the community,” said Sarazin.

“This [training] came out of a local need for establishing a safe place due to the lack of network and/or presence of a community group with an increase in suicide ideation & domestic violence amongst the small LGBTI population on base. As a chaplain, I had to do something or come up with a plan and ACON offered me that platform of early intervention.”

When asked about the success of the training session and if it achieved the intended outcome Sarazin said that most of the concepts or knowledge about the LGBTI community was driven by what people saw portrayed in the media.   

"It also exposed the invisible stigma and how we, as allies, can provide that Safe Space for expression," he said.

The training session was highly informative and focused directly on audience engagements and participation. All present were very keen to ask questions, offer anecdotes and share a laugh.

At the culmination of the two-hour session participants were more enlightened about LGBTI terminology, and with new insights about how to achieve greater inclusion throughout the workforce.

In particular the need for straight allies to achieve a cohesive working environment was recognised.

The majority of participants in attendance identified as heterosexual and felt better prepared to be more inclusive during day-to-day work interactions.

If you would like to learn more about ACON and the Safe Place program please click here.

About the Author
Author: Robert Brown
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