It's back, and now it's a new annual tradition!
Defence members, family and the community checked-in to our illustrious flagship event to celebrate LGBTI service on Saturday night.
Back for a second year, attendees grew to 280 from the Australian Defence Force and their families, along with NSW Police, Fire and Rescue, and Emergency Services, and the Sydney LGBTI community.
The ball capped off a year of success for DEFGLIS including improved recognition for partners, enhanced education, and much-needed dialogue about gender and gender identity.
Senior Defence leadership mixed with LGBTI personnel to celebrate pride and the recent organisational advances.
DEFGLIS recognised Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, Vice Chief of the Defence Force and Mr Richard Oliver, Acting Deputy Secretary of Defence People during the evening as LGBTI champions and executive sponsors for the Australian Defence Force, and Department of Defence.
It is the first time that a uniformed member has taken on the role of an LGBTI champion and executive sponsor.
Vice-Admiral Griggs said that he was very proud to be part of a senior leadership group that believed strongly in leading the way on tolerance.
"[We are] a group that has taken a lot of flak recently ... we’ve been accused of focusing more on diversity issues than our operational priorities.
"We’re not going to budge on the direction that we’re on because we know it’s the right direction, and we know it’s the right thing to do, and it results in a fairer and at the same time more capable ADF.
"Every day I look around at what we do, whether it be here - we’ve got fifth brigade on its way to up to Forbes tonight to do flood relief, and of course we have people in harm’s way in the Middle East, and I am amazingly proud of what I see every single day and I am amazingly proud of you.
"So stay strong, stay proud, be proud of who you are."
President of DEFGLIS, Vince Chong told the ball that this community should feel proud of their service to the nation as proud LGBTI people.
"Many of us grew up in families, communities and in a nation where we were made to feel shame about inalienable parts of ourselves," said Chong.
"We celebrate pride now to counter that sense of shame, especially for those not yet ready to be their genuine and authentic selves - at work or at home."
Chong called upon all attendees to model their behaviours on inclusive leadership and continue the efforts to evolve and strengthen Defence's mission-focused culture.
"What inclusive leadership looks like comes down to how we act as individuals – how we hold our team to account, what we prioritise, what we say, and what we do."
Acting Deputy Chief of Army, Brigadier Leigh Wilton announced that Army had released a new LGBTI strategy. DEFGLIS will bring more news on this strategy at a later date.
The principal sponsor for the Military Pride Ball was PricewaterhouseCoopers and the charity partner was StartOut. DEFGLIS also would like to thank KPMG and Sydney Convicts for supporting the ball.
The Masters of Ceremony for the event were Ellen Zyla and James Smith.
The keynote address was provided by Mr Paul Zahra, PricewaterhouseCoopers diversity board and former CEO of David Jones
Two Awards for excellence were presented on the evening: Ellen Zyla for Women's Network Leadership, and Brandon King for Events Leadership.
Pictured above are Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, Able Seaman Ellen Zyla, Mr Paul Zahra and Squadron Leader Vince Chong. Photo by Ann-Marie Calilhanna.
Images are by Ann-Marie Calilhanna - (c) Copyright DEFGLIS Defence LGBTI Information Service Inc. All Rights Reserved.