Department of Education shines at VPS Pride Awards

By Shannon Jenkins

Thursday November 7, 2019

The Department of Transport and Victoria Police both won the Pride Community Initiative of the Year award.

Departments and public servants have been recognised for their contributions to driving inclusion in the workplace and broader community at the annual Victorian Public Sector Pride Awards.

The event was held on Wednesday night and was organised by the VPS Pride Network, with the help of Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality Ro Allen, and was sponsored by the Department of Education and Training.

The department’s own pride network took home the award for pride network of the year, for going “above and beyond” to ensure DET is a “safe, vibrant, and inclusive working space” for its LGBTIQ staff, according to VPS Pride.

“The network has an intersectional lens, ensuring that its events, practices, and strategies reach and include more marginalised LGBTIQ staff members (such as regional, CALD, and gender diverse and intersex employees). The network’s proactive, multifaceted engagement in the department also ensures that the wellbeing and diverse needs of LGBTIQ staff are prioritised at an executive level,” VPS Pride said.

The Department of Transport came out on top in the pride community initiative of the year category, for its involvement in ‘Change Your ID day’. The day was was a collaborative effort between community services and government agencies. Led by St Kilda Legal Services and Transgender Victoria, it aimed to help trans and gender diverse community members overcome the barrier posed by identity documents. According to VPS Pride, VicRoads was the only Victorian agency at the event, and was “a favourite amongst attendees”. They completed on the spot amendments so attendees could change their records to their affirmed gender, and did several name changes on driver’s licences, “demonstrating that bureaucracy doesn’t have to be a barrier”.

Pride network of the year

DET Pride Network, for ensuring a safe and inclusive work environment.

Runners up

VP Pride, Victoria Police

DELWP Place of Pride, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Regional pride initiative of the year

GOTAFE, for increasing LGBTIQ inclusion. All GOTAFE campuses fly the Rainbow Flag and its CEO, Executive and Directors actively support LGBTIQ communities. GOTAFE has a Social Justice Charter and has also changed its policies so students can have their Graduation Certificates re-issued in their legal name.

Runners up

Wear it Purple Day, Department of Transport

Geelong Pride Film Festival, WorkSafe WorkPride Network

Pride executive champion of the year

Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, Victoria Police. Paterson has “shown significant leadership” in driving cultural change within Victoria Police as well as in national and international contexts. He has a long history of LGBTIQ advocacy.

Runners up

Anne Congleton, Department of Health and Human Services

Christopher Grant, Forest Hill College

Pride community initiative of the year

Department of Transport, for helping facilitate access to one of the main barriers that trans and gender diverse community members experience on Change Your ID day.


Victoria Police, for giving a formal apology to the LGBTIQ community on August 19. Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton gave the apology following a request from the Human Rights Law Centre and LGBTIQ groups for acknowledgement of the trauma and hurt caused in past years. The significance of this apology for the broader LGBTIQ community “cannot be understated”, and “represents a radical departure from previous years, where past institutional wrongs were often denied, ignored or trivialised”.

Pride inclusion initiative of the year

BSSC Allies, Bendigo Senior Secondary College. After consultation with the local LGBTIQ community, Safe Schools and many schools and universities nationwide, BSSC implemented an Ally model, and continues to train staff .

Runners up

Welcoming our LGBTIQ community, Neighbourhood Justice Centre

LGBTIQ ally and awareness training, Department of Transport

Rainbow cardigan award

Rachel Cecilio, DET. Cecilio has been a “vital” part of the department’s Safe Schools Unit for more than two years. She was appointed acting manager earlier this year. Under her leadership, all government secondary schools have now met the Safe School requirements. 

Runners up

Sarah Spence, DET

Naomi Shimoda, DET

James Edmonds, Victorian Public Sector Commission

Ezra Dickson, DET

Leeanne King, Assistant Principal, Orchard Grove Primary School

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