RPS at Sydney WorldPride Human Rights Conference

Earlier this month, a delegation of RPS consultants attended the Sydney WorldPride Human Rights Conference as part of our broader program of activities for WorldPride 2023. Here, they share their insights from the experience.

In 2023, WorldPride was an important (and fun!) way for RPS to celebrate LGBTQIA+ people, identity and community. But it was also a valuable opportunity to confront the discrimination issues that LGBTQIA+ people still face.

It was a topic that a passionate team of RPS delegates tackled head-on while representing the firm at the WorldPride Human Rights Conference in Sydney this month.

The conference was a core event on the WorldPride 2023 calendar, and included speeches, panels, roundtables, workshops and performances. It was billed as “the largest convergence of human rights defenders, community members, government and political representatives, philanthropists and corporate leaders committed to LGBTQIA+ rights ever held in Asia Pacific.”

The insights gained by our delegates will help RPS shape inclusiveness across our work practices and shape the design and delivery of our projects.

Here’s a snapshot of our delegation’s highlights and key takeaways from the event.

“One of the key takeaways was to do with the intersectionality of LGBTQIA+ human rights issues with every other human rights issue. Gender diversity is about identity, not just what people do behind closed doors, and a person should not be subject to discrimination, violence, or feel the need to hide their true identity. Unique identities should be celebrated, encouraged and nourished. We need to make space in each cultural context for gender diverse peoples.”

Josephine Bell, Landscape Architect

Josephine Bell, RPS Landscape Architect | Brisbane, QLD, Australia

“The global LGBTQIA+ community faces a multitude of challenges that are deeply intertwined with complex political, geopolitical, religious, and societal issues. In many countries, laws and policies discriminate against LGBTQIA+ individuals, denying them fundamental human rights and freedoms. At times, loose legal language is exploited and galvanized as a weapon to generate anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric and target the community, particularly during political cycles. One point that stuck with me from the conference was: We all win, or none of us do!”

Jach Chaseling, Project Manager

Jach Chaseling, Project Manager | RPS

“My key takeaway from a panel discussion on de-colonisation, sovereignty and First Nations justice in Asia Pacific spoke to colonial stereotypes, specifically around gender identity and how this has become justification for abuse, criminalisation, political marginalisation and exploitation. The contributions of the individuals on this panel on decolonising every system from medicine to our own bodies, not just the law and politics, was powerful and much needed.”

Eustace Vance, Project Manager

Eustace Vance, Project Manager | RPS

“A key takeaway for me was ‘the power of storytelling’ – how this helps us to open up conversations around diversity and inclusion in the workplace and how we ALL as individuals can make a difference to push the needle forward. It’s incredibly important to feel supported in the workplace – and speaking from personal experience, I struggled at previous workplaces where I felt I had to hide and not bring my whole self to work.”

Sara Owen, HSSEQ Advisor

Sara Owen, HSSEQ Advisor | RPS

“Something that stood out for me came from Tharani Jagatheeswaran (Social Impact Consultant / Partner at Deloitte) and her LGBTQI+ ally conversation. She pointed out that around 66% of allies are passive and only 33% are active. That was my lightbulb moment where I thought “I could assist the data and become an active ally.”

Lisa Minichiello, Director - Creative and Visualisation

Lisa Minichiello headshot

“The Human Rights Conference was a highlight of the Sydney WorldPride program. I learnt so much from the amazing and inspiring speakers, but also from my fellow RPS colleagues attending the conference. We felt the raw emotion and authenticity together as we debriefed each day – and also got to know each other beyond clients, proposals and deadlines. I’m excited for the year ahead and what the next Mardi Gras season will bring. We’ll have many more moments this year to support the LGBTQIA+ community and I look forward to having more conversations as we continue to Gather. Dream. Amplify.”

Nicole Verges, Director - Creative and Visualisation

Nicole Verges, RPS Director - Creative and Visualisation | Sydney NSW Australia

“The conference was a reminder of the global issues facing LGBTQIA+ communities and the work that still needs to be done to create a fairer and more equitable society.  It was an absolute pleasure spending time with my colleagues who travelled from around Australia to join us in Sydney.  While the WorldPride party is over, the real work continues at RPS as we continue to advise and challenge our clients to deliver meaningful and enduring social value in our communities.”

Vanessa Pilla, National Lead - Social Advisory

Vanessa Pilla, National Lead - Social Advisory, Sydney NSW Australia

RPS prides itself on providing a supportive and inclusive workplace for all people, and equity and inclusion for LGBTQIA+ people is a big part of this. Shaped by our people and led by our LGBTQIA+ Working Group, events, fundraising and activities focused on diversity is something we participate in regularly as a team.

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