Advance Diversity Services (ADS) has been awarded HWEI Gold Employer and HWEI Service Provider of the Year in the Australian LGBTQ Inclusion Awards announced on June 11 in a virtual ceremony hosted by ACON.

ADS staff will be presented with the award at a live ceremony on October 19.

The inclusion awards celebrate Australia’s top organisations for LGBTQ inclusion based on the results of the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) and Australian Health + Wellbeing Equality Index (HWEI). They also acknowledge leaders, individuals and networks that have made a significant impact on LGBTQ inclusion within their workplaces.

ADS entered the awards under the HWEI and scored 85/100 – which is a very high score for a first-time entry.

ADS Chief Executive Officer, Antoinette Chow, said, ‘It is great to receive both HWEI Service Provider of the Year and HWEI Gold Employer which acknowledges the work ADS has been doing to improve our services and practices to support people who identify with a diverse gender and/or sexuality (LGBTIQA+).

‘Our efforts have included rolling out our marketing campaign BE YOU WITH US, playing a lead role in developing the 2020 edition of the Multicultural LGBTIQA+ Support Directory, establishing our LGBTIQA+ Working Group, partnering to educate and inform community services staff who work with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities about best practice, and becoming a member of the Welcome Here Project.

‘We’re proud of how far we’ve come. We also know there is more work to be done in our services and across our region to ensure LGBTIQA+ people feel included and safe to pursue the services they need.

‘For the rest of 2020 we aim to have a strong focus on staff training, educating staff about gender and sexuality diverse clients. This award assures us we’re on the right track.’

ADS is a proud member of ACON’s Pride in Health + Wellbeing, a national program that provides support, training and guidance in LGBTI inclusive service delivery. It also administers the HWEI as part of Pride Inclusion Programs, a suite of social inclusion initiatives run by Australia’s leading LGBTI health organisation, ACON.

Launched in 2019, the HWEI is a benchmarking tool which provides health and wellbeing organisations the opportunity to assess, measure and improve their practices to better include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTIQ) people in their services.

To participate in the index and the awards an organisation must provide evidence of their inclusiveness across a number of key areas.

These areas include: access to LGBTIQ expertise and how often working groups are consulted; understanding of the health disparities of LGBTIQ people and how this influences service provision; inclusion strategies and implementation; inclusive and supportive care assessment, care planning and/or case management documents; visibility of LGBTIQ people in marketing and media content, understanding of how language can impact LGBTIQ people health care settings, and sensitivities around disclosure.

The information gleaned from organisations allows the HWEI to benchmark LGBT inclusive service delivery identify, map any gaps that exist, and allow for continuous quality improvements to be made. The knowledge gained from the HWEI will result in better experiences of LGBTIQ people when accessing health and human services across Australia.