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Pride in Water makes Ozwater debut

Ozwater’21 hosted the first national in-person event for Pride in Water, a network created to build a more inclusive water industry for LGBTIQ+ staff, contractors, customers and the broader community.

SA Water, one of 29 organisations supporting Pride in Water, also has its own Pride network, Pride Together, which is made up of 75 of the utility's employees.

SA Water General Manager of Strategy, Engagement and Innovation Anna Jackson Pride Together's purpose is to connect the LGBTIQ+ community and its allies.

"We're working to build visibility and support across our organisation to ensure our LGBTIQ+ people feel safe, valued and included," Jackson said.

Jackson said the Pride in Water events held at Ozwater’21 publicly demonstrates the wider water industry’s support, enabling people to understand the value and contribution those with diverse experiences and views bring to water businesses.

“For me, growing this understanding and appreciation is an integral outcome of the network’s role. Everyone has the right to feel safe, included and valued at work and this role aligns with my core values of equity and human rights,” Jackson said.

"For SA Water, creating an organisation that is diverse and inclusive, where people feel safe to bring their whole selves to work, will enable them to do their best work, and when we reflect the community we serve, we know we can best meet their needs."

Challenge and change

Pride in Water was co-founded in 2019 by two LGBTIQ+ employees at Yarra Valley Water, Brendan Moore and Jacquie Moon.

Moore said he co-found Pride in Water due to the discrimination, hardships and exclusion he had felt throughout his career.

“As an engineer who has worked in regional locations across Australia in operational and construction-based roles, I struggled to feel supported to bring my authentic self to work,” he said.

“I always feared that revealing that I was gay would inhibit my career progression and cause strain on my professional relationships.

“Jacquie and I wanted to address the importance of LGBTIQ+ inclusion in our industry, to create a visible organisation and role models within it who we had always wished to see when we were starting our careers, and hopefully remove or reduce the barriers and issues for future and current LGBTIQ+ people who join the water industry."

Moon said her motivation for co-founding Pride in Water was to challenge and change the culture of the water industry.

“I want to work in a place where I and my other LGBTIQ+ workmates can feel proud of who we are, that values our diverse lived experience, and creates a safe place for everyone," Moon said.

“Whether you are an LGBTIQ+ parent of a rainbow family, a parent that may have a child that has come out as bisexual, or a workmate that is transitioning gender — you should feel proud and seen for who you are at work.

“We all have a role in making our workplaces feel safe and inclusive by learning, listening and visibly showing that we support and celebrate LGBTIQ+ inclusion. Through the work of Pride in Water, we hope that no matter where you work in the water industry in Australia, you will feel safe and supported."

Celebrating diversity

Ozwater’21 featured a Pride in Water workshop, which focused on channelling LGBTIQ+ change in the Australian water industry, as well as a networking event for delegates to meet colleagues from across Australia with a shared passion in inclusion.

From left: Princess Laya, Jacquie Moon, Brendan Moore, Carmel Krogh

Drag artist Princess Laya hosted the crowd at the networking event and was honoured to be part of celebrating LGBTIQ+ people within the water industry.

“As a gay man working in the water industry, I am honoured and very excited for Adelaide to be given the magnificent opportunity to host Pride in Water at this year’s Ozwater conference and showcase my dazzling drag artistry,” Princess Laya said.

“I have been doing drag actively for 12 years in between my full-time job, and my manager and work colleagues have always supported and encouraged me to excel in my passion and have even seen a few of my shows.

“I am absolutely delighted and grateful to work in an organisation that not only celebrates diversity but is inclusive of all its LGBTIQ+ people."