Swinburne Pride celebrating gender diversity and inclusivity

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Swinburne staff and students walk proudly around the Hawthorn Campus with LGBTIQ flags

A record 500 students and staff took part in the 2019 Swinburne Pride celebrations

In summary

  • Swinburne Pride 2019 focused on supporting LGBTI youth, particularly those who identify as transgender and gender diverse
  • Attendees were inspired by Transcend founder and Wear It Purple Patron Rebekah Robertson who spoke during the festivities
  • Swinburne Pride is part of Swinburne’s commitment to creating a supportive and inclusive environment for its LGBTI community

Swinburne Pride 2019 has been confirmed as the biggest yet, with a record 500 students and staff participating in the Fair Day and Pride March.

The celebration of diversity, love and pride took place at Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus on Thursday 22 August, and this year's theme was 'family and relationships'.

Staff, students, community members, family and friends visited stalls held by LGBTI community organisations including Wear it Purple, Out for Australia, Living Positive Victoria and Thorne Harbour Health. Over 100 people participated in the Pride March around campus.

Paving the way for transgender rights

Rebekah Robertson from Australia’s first parent-led, peer support network for transgender children and their families, Transcend, participated in the march and shared her story of raising transgender activist Georgie Stone.

Transcend founder and Wear It Purple patron Rebekah Robertson poses with three Swinburne Queer Collective students all holding Pride Flags

Swinburne Queer Collective students were honoured to meet Rebekah Robertson and hear her speak at Pride

"My daughter Georgie knew she was a girl from age two, and it’s not been an easy journey."

Ms Robertson spoke of the heartbreak of Georgie coming home in tears because she was being bullied in school, and of people refusing to use her ‘she’ preferred pronoun and feeling suicidal.

"Georgie just wanted to be herself. We had to go the Family Court to access hormone treatment, which ruled that Georgie was competent to make her own decision to begin puberty-blocking medication."

Georgie’s case became the basis of the 2013 landmark decision to remove the Family Court’s jurisdiction and has often been cited as the beginning of justice for transgender children in Australia.

In her moving speech, Ms Robertson referred to a Trans Pathway study, that found four out of five transgender young people have self-harmed and almost one in two have attempted suicide.

"A lot of people say Georgie is lucky to have such a supportive family. I say no, all we ever did was love and accept Georgie for who she is. If anything, we are lucky to have Georgie as a daughter."

A Swinburne student who wanted to remain unnamed said as a gender diverse person they have benefitted from Rebekah and Georgie’s fearless campaigning for equal rights for transgender and gender diverse people.

"Rebekah and Georgie have paved the way for the transgender and gender diverse community in terms of educating others on gender-non-conforming persons and offering resources and support for parents of transgender and gender diverse children."

"To hear her speak today…it was life-changing," they said.

 A face painting paints a student's face at the Pride Fair Day

The Pride Fair Day included community stalls, face painting, fairy floss, badge making and an LGBTI flag exhibition

Swinburne supports the LGBTI community

Speaking at the Pride March, Vice-President (Engagement), Jane Ward, reinforced Swinburne’s commitment to the LBGTI community.

"Swinburne Pride is an important event for the Swinburne community. Swinburne Pride gives us a chance to come together and celebrate the diversity and strength of our LGBTI community," Ms Ward said.

"The LGBTI community is made of many peoples, each with their own views, histories, struggles and celebrations."

"Swinburne is committed to a trans-friendly culture, free from discrimination and harassment, where all staff and students are treated with dignity and able to realise their full potential in a fair and inclusive workplace and learning environment."

For more images from the day, check out the Swinburne Pride 2019 photo album.