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Community Connections

Celebrating diversity at UC

The University of Canberra community calendar is bursting at the seams with a myriad events this March – it’s Diversity Month, and the sheer range of happenings honours that spirit with something for everyone.

Tuesday 8 March will see an International Women’s Day (IWD) event spanning a day-long celebration. A morning market on the Concourse will lead into a panel discussion on issues affecting women in sport. The panel will include Amy Kilpatrick, incoming Director of the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation, BroadAgenda Editor Ginger Gorman, Assistant Professor Dr Catherine Ordway, Sports Integrity Research Lead, and UC Capitals player Kelsey Griffin.

There will also be an IWD lunchtime panel screening, with UC’s Assistant Professor Dr Bomikazi Zeka and Rebecca Glenn, Founder of the Centre for Women’s Economic Safety (CWES), discussing “Women, Feminism + Finance = ? What is the gender bias equation?”, and a movie night (see the calendar below for details).

To commemorate National Close the Gap Day on 17 March, a special panel, including speakers like Deputy Vice-Chancellor-Academic, Professor Geoff Crisp, Assistant Professor in Education Benny Wilson, and Senior Lecturer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Specialisation, Dr Wayne Appleby, will discuss the results of the Close the Gap Report.

Vice-Chancellor Paddy Nixon has also extended a warm invitation to staff and students alike to enjoy a taste of his home and culture at the St Patrick’s Day Irish Breakfast on 17 March

Kicking off today, the UC ALLY Network is holding a Zero Discrimination Day forum at The Well, to discuss increasing inclusivity in our community.

“We’re holding a special Intersectionality Walk for staff today, which is all about being able to walk in someone else’s shoes,” says Ellen Swavley, Diversity Specialist and architect of UC’s Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Plan 2020-2022. There will be another Intersectionality Walk for staff on 30 March.

Ellen is a lifelong and passionate believer in celebrating the differences that make us individuals, in recognising how valuable those differences can be and drawing on them as strengths (read more about Ellen and her work in this UnCover story).

Intersectionality is built around the idea that all individuals have multiple aspects that can’t be siloed, and these can see them exposed to different and overlapping forms of discrimination and marginalisation. These aspects can include gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, and socioeconomic background.

Applying an intersectional lens and building empathetic understanding is a crucial starting point for anyone who wants to support diversity and inclusiveness – and so promote equity.

Christina Cawkell, People Engagement Specialist with UC, says that Diversity Month is not only about raising awareness, but about deepening and widening networks and knowledge.

“If you want to build and grow as an organisation, you need to constantly work to build and promote diversity so that perspectives aren’t blinkered,” Christina says. Growing as a person follows the same lines of progress, albeit on an individual scale.

“At the same time, we would also like to introduce people to support networks they can draw on, such as Parents at Work,” she says.

Ellen says that all the events during Diversity Month offer the chance not only to learn from people different from ourselves, but to get to know them – and that can make a huge difference between assumption vs reality, regardless of intention.

“People who don’t have that knowledge, can often speak on behalf of others with their own perception of how that experience might look – whether that is real or assumed,” she says.

Diversity Month offers insight into that realness, and the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills to truly champion diversity and inclusion in our everyday lives.

Diversity Month at UC

A dynamic, living list, this list of key dates and events will be updated as the month progresses.

1 – Zero Discrimination Day Forum, organised by the UC ALLY Network, open to all

8 – International Women’s Day. Morning market on the Concourse, followed by a panel discussion on issues affecting women in sport. There will also be an IWD lunchtime panel screening on Women, Feminism + Finance = ? What is the gender bias equation?, and a movie night hosted by UCLifex, with pre-screening activities by UC Supporting Women in STEM (UCSWIS).

9 – Parents at Work: Managing Mental Health and Wellbeing for You and Your Family, a webinar for UC staff, organised in collaboration with Parents at Work

17 – Irish Breakfast, open to all UC staff and students

17 – National Close the Gap Day, special panel on Close the Gap Report

19 – National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence

21 – International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

21 – Harmony Day

21 – 27 – Harmony Week

21 – International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

21 – World Down Syndrome Day

21 – Naw Ruz (Baha’i New Year)

22 – 27 – Week of Solidarity with the Peoples Struggling against Racism and Racial Discrimination

27 – Passover

30 – Intersectionality Walk for UC staff

30 – World Bipolar Day

31 – International Transgender Day of Visibility

Words by Suzanne Lazaroo, photos by Tyler Cherry.

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