Pride in Diversity

marching in pride

(Above: Jade Ryall heads the group followed by Melanie Noble, Clare Evans, Jodi Bunt, and a host of others stretching back to infinity)

A group from RichmondPRA took part in this year’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras as part of a workplace pride in diversity troupe!

Jodi Bunt, from Newcastle said, “All I can say is it was AWESOME.” Didn’t the hours of continuous dancing on the march tire her out? “No, I was not tired! I was Exhilarated! We were so energised. At the end of the march, Dan (Reynolds also from Newcastle) and I walked a kilometre to the railway station. I slept pretty well when I got home,” she admitted.

Our dancers were part of a group of about 200 people from assorted workplaces who, dancing in their black and white workplace costumes, celebrated diversity in the workplace to the strains of Beyonce over the six kilometre course. Participants from RichmondPRA included Doris Kluge (Human Resources), Clare Evans (Marketing) and John Maraz (Workforce Development, all from Head office), Melanie Noble (Five Dock), Jodi Bunt and Dan Reynolds (Newcastle) plus Totsi Todorovska (New Outlook, Wollongong),

LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex) people are one of the four big diversity groups that RichmondPRA have identified as being particularly important to our operations. The others are CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people with a physical disability. Our diversity policy was one of the reasons behind our participation. The other reason was to have enormous fun!

“There was just so much positive energy there, everyone was just so accepting,’” said Jodi who works as an NDIS Coordinator. “Everyone was friendly, chatty and supportive. There were no cliques or egos to contend with. I can’t wait till next year!”

Speaking of which, Panorama asked Jodi if she thought RichmondPRA ought to enter its own float. “Yes, definitely. There were a number of organisations represented, like Beyond Blue.”

Clare Evans was determined to take part despite not being 100% well on the day, and it was worth it. “For me,” said Clare, “the standout part was feeling like a rock star with all the people standing on the side of the street cheering us on. That was pretty full on and I wasn’t really expecting it to be like that!”

You have been warned: taking part in the march is a Near Rock Star Experience! So look out!

But it’s not all adulation and exhilaration. Readers might not realise this, but a lot of preparation actually went into this show.

So as not to spoil the surprise, participants had to sneak off to learn and rehearse the dance moves in the weeks before the event to get it just right.

Melanie Noble was one of the people there at those rehearsals. One session was held at Barangaroo. There were about 50 people there, all dressed in their office gear and they practiced for an hour and a half, raising quite a sweat.

“I was wondering how some of us were going to manage on the night over a slow six kilometre route. Dancing certainly gives you a workout,” says Melanie from RichmondPRA Five Dock, “but it’s fun and well worth the effort. I’d certainly recommend it.”

Panorama was alerted by our Social Media person Jas Buchal and taken to a secret location where Doris, Clare, John and Mel were putting the finishing touches on their routine, helped by a video put together by the choreographer (see the story and picture on the third page of the ACTION supplement in this edition). These pics were “leaked” to social media so as to arouse curiosity among RichmondPRA’s followers.

It seems to have worked so well that it’s difficult to resist starting plans for 2017 right now! But we need everyone’s help. And no, you don’t have to be any particular sexual or gender orientation.

If you are interested in participating in the 2017 Mardi Gras, then don’t be shy. Clamour for attention and let your support workers know your interest.


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