Meeting on a regular basis, the group provides consultation, feedback and discussion on diversity, equity and inclusion for LGBTQIA+ people in the City of Perth.
LGBTQIA+ Advisory Group member Kate (she/her) is a City of Perth resident and Senior Fire Engineer at Arup.
Upon moving to Perth, Kate’s role was expanded to establish a Diversity and Inclusion committee for Arup Perth, where she led all inclusion portfolios. She is now looking to extend her influence beyond the workplace and is volunteering for the City of Perth’s LGBTQIA+ Advisory Group.
We sat down with Kate to learn more about her passion and drive for diversity, equity and inclusion:
Can you tell us about yourself?
I was born in Mianjin (Brisbane), Turrbal land and moved to the beautiful Boorloo (Perth) in 2016 where I now work, live and play. I am a child abuse survivor, domestic violence survivor, sexual assault survivor. I don’t let these things define me, but I have taken what I’ve learnt about being taken advantage of, mis-treated, gaslit, manipulated and turned these into strengths where I refuse to accept poor treatment of any person, nor myself. I am bold, outgoing, confident, plus-size, feminist, queer, polyamorous and not here to apologise for what I’ve been through or who I am. What I am here for is improving the society I live in, bringing joy into other people’s lives, and with as much love and support as I can gather around me.
What are your passions?
I am a queer feminist, and it would be disingenuous for me to pretend that anything was more important to me than that identity. I am passionate about advocacy, inclusion, acceptance, love, support, and vulnerability. I will always fight for those who have received less support, less access to equitable governance. Trans women are women. This land is not mine. My opportunities given have been because of my privilege as a white person, my education, my access to health, systems and connectivity. But my success is because I have fought to be seen and heard as a woman who is an engineer, because I didn’t listen to those who said my queerness was something private that I shouldn’t have brought into the workplace. Queer people and all marginalised people have been unsafe for too long and I want to help build a society where their dreams can be realised. As a person with immense privilege in our society, I feel a responsibility to honour our LGBQTIA+ elders’ work and pay it forward to the next generation.
I have previously taken on the role of Arup Australasia’s Executive Committee lead for the LGBQTIA+ portfolio, and Diversity and Inclusion lead in the Perth office. It was such a rewarding journey, but I learnt so much and realised that the queer community, and especially intersectional people within it, don’t have equitable access to education and work opportunities. So how could I improve my workplace without helping the community? Of course I want my voice heard, but it’s more than that for me – I want to help create spaces where all voices can be heard. There are so many bigger issues in our community, such as addressing homelessness, supporting queer youth, myth-busting transphobia, and improving access to health. But I speak for my experiences, and these examples have not been my own, but that is the power of a diverse group of voices, I have gained education and empathy through my peers on the advisory group which is a greater goal than I could ever have hoped for.
What is it like to be part of the Advisory Group?
The advisory group position has been so rewarding, helping me feel more connected to my community. I think so many of us in the queer community have been so isolated and unsupported for so long that connection to community is how we find our ‘chosen families’. For others, they’ve had support and connection to allies within their communities their whole lives. More still are still closeted for safety reason. Sometimes it’s hard to find the diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community around you for these reasons. So to bring together a group of fifteen different individuals, all with strong connections to their own groups of people, suddenly we’ve brought breadth and depth to the conversation on that, bringing everyone together in a collaborative way. It’s very rewarding to feel a part of something so monumental.
What changes have you seen since joining the LGBTQIA+ Advisory Group?
The first clear change was the City of Perth stepping up to the responsibility as a provider of culture, space and community to supporting the queer community. I used to think that intersectionality meant ‘being different in more than one way’, but I’ve since re-framed that to seeing it as how many communities you’re not 100 per cent accepted in. My experiences in the City of Perth have included heckling on the street, limited signs of inclusion and a feeling that being ‘out’ is still a bit of a taboo. But that’s my corporate influences too – it may be very different in other industries. What I’ve seen in the City of Perth since the establishment of the group is a commitment from the City of top-down leadership. Visible signs of inclusion such as lighting up Council House in the colours of the trans flag for Trans Day of Visibility was important – but listening to the people that suggested this in the first place was more important. Trans awareness training within the City of Perth was a huge step, but coming to the table and agreeing to take the training to grow as individuals was that first leap of faith that it would be worth it.
What changes are you still wanting to see happen?
I have to say I’m overwhelmed with some of the actions we’ve proposed to the city. You don’t realise how much potential for growth there is, until you get a diverse group of people together and listen to their needs, and the needs of others they are representing. What I’m waiting to see happen is active inclusion, rather than implementation of strategic measures. I would love to see our leaders step up like Biden did in his first joint address to Congress and say ‘To all transgender Americans watching at home, especially the young people. You’re so brave. I want you to know your president has your back.’ Rainbow lights and benches are inclusive, awareness and inclusion training is necessary – almost by legislation thanks to the Sex Discrimination Act Amendment of 2013, but I want something that tugs at my heart strings and lets me know that I am heard, I am understood. I want to be moved and shaken, and my queer community be celebrated daily by our leadership, and all City of Perth community.
Although they’ve since passed, both of my grandmothers who were born in the 20s and 30s fully accepted my queerness. One would call regularly to ask how my partner was doing, and the other told me ‘it’s nice to be different – otherwise it would be boring’. It’s the next generation in my extended family, their children, that have struggled more, who have been less including of me and the broader queer community. This has shown me that exclusion is a choice, and is taught – not by heritage necessarily, but from society.
To see City of Perth stepping up as a societal leader and influencer committing to improving inclusion and access, is wildly exciting.
Thank you to all volunteer members of the LGBTQIA+ Advisory Group:
- Avery Wright (she/her)
- Braden Hill (he/him)
- Caro Duca (they/them)
- Clint Woolly (he/him/they/them)
- Curtis Ward (he/him)
- David Goncalves (he/him)
- Hunter Gurevich (he/him) and proxy Emery Wishart (he/him)
- Kate Buckle (she/her)
- Katherine Sherrie (she/her)
- Kedy Kristal (she/her)
- Paul-Alain (van Lieshout) Hunt (he/him)
- Perth Inner City Youth Service (PICYS) represented by (shared seat) Dani Wright Toussaint (they/them) and Andrew Hall (he/him)
- Sarah Feldman (she/her)
- Steve Wellard (he/him)
- William Knox (they/them)
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