Common Ground Diversity Workshop


By Grant J Everett

You’re never too old to learn some new tricks

Over two big days, employees from a dozen RichmondPRA locations gathered at Figtree Conference Centre to attend a workshop run by Rajiv Ramanathan, the Director of Practical Visionaries. The workshop was designed to help our organisation become more actively inclusive towards four particular social groups. Together, these four groups make up a big meaty slice of the pizza of Australian society, making this issue an important one. In no real order, the quartet of groups were:

  • The Indigenous community
  • PWD (People with disabilities)
  • LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex)
  • CALD (Culturally And Linguistically Diverse)

Anyone in need who comes our way deserves to receive our services in a tailored, flexible manner that will play to their strengths, respect their beliefs and values and hopefully lead to a more stable, fulfilling life.


Leading up to the workshop, I assumed that it would mostly revolve around how to avoid offending people. As I am burdened with a brain that takes roughly two seconds longer to react than my quick-draw mouth, I’ve had the misfortune of jamming my foot in my facehole quite often with almost every minority you can name. My expectations of the workshop, however, turned out to be only partially true.

Rajiv set us an organisation-wide challenge: to tailor our approach so we weren’t merely including people from these four groups, but actively attracting them. We were instructed to think about how these four groups would see our organisation, and whether this image would serve to bring them in or push them away.

We identified some key issues that would be likely to impact on the life of diverse groups and potentially affect the value of their experience with our services. For instance, here at Panorama magazine we decided to tackle this challenge by publishing articles specifically targeted at the four groups, especially if the articles in question also had our usual connection to mental health.

Rajiv kept us busy with a large volume of work over those two days. Our team exercises involved Post It notes, furious scribbling and brainstorming punctuated by bottomless cups of coffee and finger food.

Pam speaks

Our Chief Executive Officer, Pamela Rutledge, had something to say about inclusion at the end:

“We embarked upon an exciting new initiative with Practical Visionaries to help us improve our diversity practices. Following on from our previous work on inclusion led by Janet Meagher, Practical Visionaries have been working closely with us to support our diversity objectives. This work complements and supports the development and implementation of the Recovery Action Plan, which is making great progress. We are particularly focused on ensuring our services are welcoming and culturally safe places for people from CALD communities, from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the LGBTI community and people with a disability, in addition to those with lived experience of mental health issues or psychosocial disability. We will be providing updates about the project through Chirp, and our magazines, Panorama and Connections.
I welcome everyone’s contribution on how we can ensure we work in inclusive ways throughout the organisation, and look forward to talking further with you as this work progresses.”

Finally, thanks to all the representatives of the four diversity groups we discussed.You guys were the highlight.

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