Advance Diversity Services (ADS) has been chosen as an HWEI Gold Tier provider for the second year running in the Australian LGBTQ Inclusion Awards announced on May 28.

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.

Chief Executive Officer, Antoinette Chow, said it was an honour to receive the award two years in a row – an acknowledgment which paid tribute to ADS’ sustained work in fostering and celebrating LGBTQ inclusion.

‘Happily, it means our inclusion campaign ‘BE YOU WITH US – You belong, we all belong’ is now fully embedded and that we’re steadily improving access and equity for people who identify with a diverse gender and/or sexuality.

‘As we grow further as an inclusive organisation, we hope to be a lighthouse to other CALD providers.’

Initiatives taken since ADS received the Gold award in 2020 have included:

  • Partnering with Queer Screen to host a community screening of the Australian premiere of Goodbye Mother (a Vietnamese coming out story) on February 24 as part of the 28th Mardi Gras Film Festival.
  • Producing and launching Pride in My Faith – a video which offers insights into the struggles faced by LGBTIQA+ people of faith from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds as they try to reconcile their faith, culture and queer identity, and to find service providers that understand the complexity of their predicament.
  • Launching a research project with the University of Wollongong (UOW) to understand gaps in the knowledge and skills of diversity service workers when servicing culturally diverse LGBTIQ+ communities in the context of COVID-19 with the ultimate aim of improving service provision.

Additionally, Ms Chow said, ADS’ Champions program supports ADS LGBTIQA+ staff and client-based service delivery, and its LGBTIQA+ Working Group, assists ADS to improve access and equity.

‘The important thing here is to ensure people from CALD LGBTIQ+ communities receive the services they need and feel welcome and included. We know from our research that these people often struggle, and sometimes it’s so severe that their lives are at stake, so it’s not enough to give these matters lip service.

‘So please, if you are a migrant or refugee who identifies as LGBTIQA+ and you need support, contact ADS or look for services in our expanded Multicultural LGBTIQA+ Support Directory.

Ms Chow commended the Network of Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies (NADA), the peak organisation for non-government alcohol and other drugs services in NSW who also received a Gold Tier provider award in 2021.

‘We’re in good company receiving gold,’ she said, ‘and inspired by the efforts of other non-profits like NADA who are making a difference.’

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.

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.

Caption: ADS CEO Antoinette Chow and Senior Manager, Aged and Disability Services, Dimi Vourliotis at the Australian LGBTQ Inclusion Awards ceremony on May 28 where ADS was chosen HWEI Gold Tier provider for the second year running.