30 May 2024

At Life Without Barriers, we celebrate diversity, and we practice inclusion.

Image: A group of four people wearing Life Without Barriers t-shirts and rainbow items smile at the camera.

We want our employees to be accepted and welcomed for the difference and diversity they bring. This means providing a safe and supportive workplace for everyone, inclusive of culture, ethnicity, faith, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, intersex status, and relationship status. We want our employees to feel valued, respected, and connected.

“Diversity is a fact, inclusion is a choice, and belonging is a feeling. We all have a responsibility to contribute to a respectful, person-centred organisational culture.” Ashleigh Sternes, Diversity and Inclusion Lead.

Here are a few of the ways we ensure we are an inclusive, accessible and safe workplace.

Our employee networks

Pride Without Barriers

In February 2021, we launched our second employee network, Pride Without Barriers. Pride Without Barriers serves as a network and resource for LGBTQIA+ employees and their allies.

“It is my hope that the Pride Without Barriers network will smooth the path for members of the Life Without Barriers community who feel unsure about bringing their whole selves to work and acts as a beacon of true inclusion for LGBTQIA+ people.” Mary McKinnon, Executive Director Group Risk, Performance, and Impact.

Over the last three years, Pride Without Barriers has assisted with confidential and informal discussions for LGBTQIA+ employees, provided advice and guidance on LGBTQIA+ work or projects across Life Without Barriers and shared the stories of members on dates significant to the LGBTQIA+ community.

Disability Accessibility Wellbeing Network (DAWN)

DAWN serves as a network and resource for employees with disability, including people living with mental or chronic illness, and their allies.

“Seeing DAWN grow as a space where employees with disability and their allies come together has been fantastic to see. Facilitating events and conversations has given us the opportunity to tell our stories and educate others on how to better support employees with a disability.” Emily Reaper, Innovation Project Lead and DAWN Committee Chair.

Since 2019, DAWN has been a space for employees to identify opportunities to create a more inclusive workplace and bring forward solutions for how we can support people living with disability, as well as chronic and mental health conditions.

Image: The Life Without Barriers DAWN committee, Executive team and Board members standing together smiling after being immersed in a theatre-based training and exploration session that focused on the lived experiences of people with disability.

Measuring our progress

Australian Workplace Equality Index

The Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) is the definitive national benchmark for LGBTQIA+ workplace inclusion. The Index drives best practice in Australia and sets a comparative benchmark for Australian employers across all sectors.

Life Without Barriers has participated in the AWEI annually since 2018. We achieved Bronze Tier Status in 2021, 2022, and 2023.

"I’m proud to be part of an organisation that strives to improve its LGBTQIA+ inclusivity by benchmarking its performance using the Australian Workplace Equality Index each year." Phil Beckett, National Manager, Strategic Growth Initiatives and Co-Chair of Pride Without Barriers.

Image: Brooke McDonald, Ashleigh Sternes, Ian Robinson and Phil Beckett at the 2024 Australian LGBTQ+ Inclusion Awards.

Disability Confident Recruiter

Life Without Barriers was first awarded Disability Confident Recruiter (DCR) status by the Australian Network on Disability (AND) in 2019. We reaffirmed our commitment to providing a barrier-free and inclusive recruitment process for people with disability through the renewal of our DCR status in 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Obtaining DCR status shows that we are an organisation that is committed to ensuring people with disability are actively recruited in our organisation

“From the day of my first interview with Life Without Barriers to when I was offered a job, I knew I had found an employer who saw me for my true value and not my disability. With the right workplace adjustments, I can do my job just as well as any non-disabled person.” Dominic Freestone, Senior Graphic Designer.

Changing the way we do things

Access Inclusion and Employment Plan

Our 2022-2025 Access Inclusion and Employment Plan (AIEP) outlines Life Without Barrier’s commitments to improving access and creating employment without barriers for people with disability.

We strive to offer real jobs and meaningful careers for all of our employees. One of the ways we do this is through participation in the Australian Network on Disability's Stepping Into Internship program. The program offers practical paid work experience for students with disability who may face significant obstacles in gaining employment.

“My Stepping Into Internship was my step into a disability confident world. I felt truly accepted for the first time in a workplace. I now have the privilege of calling myself a Provisional Chartered Accountant and Co-Chair of DAWN.” Dwayne Brumby, Assistant Financial Accountant and Dawn Co-Chair.

Reconciliation Action Plan

Life Without Barriers' commitments to Reconciliation are outlined in our Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). The RAP includes our commitment to use our resources to provide opportunities for access to education, employment, career pathways and leadership programs and to culturally safe and appropriate supports. We will continue to grow and maintain an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce, extending opportunities through our supplier and business activities to impact economic and social outcomes.

“This opportunity with Life Without Barriers, and seeing it firsthand, has been an awesome experience and will help me in my studies and the next role that I end up in.” Ziggi McCarthy, a proud Anangu and Yamaji woman who joined Life Without Barriers to complete an internship organised through CareerTrackers.

Image: A group of people in formal wear at a CareerTrackers award event pose together, smiling at the camera.

Fostering inclusion through events

Mardi Gras

2024 marked the fifth year Life Without Barriers has participated in the Mardi Gras parade. This year we had 50 people, including foster carers, people with a disability and their support workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, staff and allies, came together from across the country to show their alliance with the LGBTQIA+ community.

“I think it's just an amazing opportunity for Life Without Barriers to participate in Mardi Gras. It is a celebration of each individual within Life Without Barriers who is part of the LBGTQIA+ community. And its something that is really quite an important part of celebrating everybody’s uniqueness." Japhia McGuire, Regional Practice Lead.

Trans Day of Visibility (TDOV)

To acknowledge TDOV, we have shared stories of lived experience and advice from members of the Trans and Non-binary community. In 2023, Elliot, Child and Youth Mentor and Residential Support Worker, shared their advice for supporting young people navigating their gender identity.

“I came out during a supervision meeting with my supervisor. In the last part of our meeting, I said, ‘And by the way...’ My supervisor was fantastic with it.”

In 2024, Scout, Professional Learning Specialist, shared their advice on how to be a better ally to trans and gender diverse people in the workplace.

“I feel, as far as workplaces and organisations go, Life Without Barriers has been the only organisation where it felt like I’m able to be me, present as me, and be comfortable to state my pronouns.”


This year we acknowledged International Day Against LGBTQIA+ Discrimination (IDAHOBIT) with Phi Theodoros, Lead Resident Artist, she/her, and Brooke McDonald, Behaviour Support Practitioner, she/her, as they shared their lived experience as members of the queer community and discussed discrimination, mental health and allyship.

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD)

To acknowledge International Day of People with Disability, our staff shared practical steps that we can all take to be a better allies to people with disability.

"Making sure that every single employee feels comfortable coming to the workplace really shows me that an organisation wants to see change and really wants to make every single employee feel safe, comfortable, and valued coming to work.” Emily Reaper, Innovation Project Lead and DAWN Committee Chair.

Promoting inclusive practices

Inclusive Language Guide

In January 2021, we released an Inclusive Language Guide to promote the use of inclusive language across Life Without Barriers. We want the way we communicate with each other, and as an organisation, to be respectful and inclusive. The guide is complemented by a suite of Inclusive Language Intranet pages.

In 2023, we released an external version of our Inclusive Language Guide, providing a resource that encourages and promotes respectful communication by exploring how to use language that embraces gender identities, LGBTQIA+ communities, people with disabilities, and people from diverse cultural backgrounds, whilst challenging ageism and bias.

Workplace accessibility

Life Without Barriers is committed to improving employment opportunities for people with disability by enhancing our workforce and business practices and lobbying and encouraging all Australian employers to do the same.

To encourage organisations to reduce the barriers people with disability face in the workplace, we have created the following resources:

Image: A woman is in an office, holding a mobile phone to her ear and writing on a piece of paper.

Email signatures

We know that visible signs of inclusion act as positive cues, signalling a safe and inclusive workplace. To improve accessibility and inclusion, we have recently updated the Life Without Barriers email signatures:

  • We have updated the font to Arial size 12 to improve accessibility.

  • We have added an Accessibility field so staff can share their accessibility requirements.

  • We have updated the pronoun field to automatically hyperlink to TransHub, so people can learn more about pronouns.

  • The Traditional Country field now automatically hyperlinks to the AIATSIS map of Indigenous Australia, so people can learn more about whose Country they are on.

Accessibility Hub

To make information, activities, and environments useable for everyone at Life Without Barriers we provide an Intranet Accessibility Hub for staff. It’s our one-stop-virtual-shop for all things accessibility for employees including workplace adjustments, accessible content creation, event and meeting accessibility, and accessibility apps and tools.

Employment Without Barriers

Join our campaign to create employment without barriers.

Related Stories