2 March 2023

Gather. Dream. Amplify. Life Without Barriers responds to the call to gather and celebrate Sydney World Pride at the 2023 Mardi Gras parade.

Image: Two men at Sydney Mardi Gras wear black Life Without Barriers t-shirts and blue accessories, smiling at the camera.

Life Without Barriers is proud to have joined the 2023 Sydney Mardi Gras parade, a marvellous celebration of World Pride and the LGBTQIA+ community.

60 staff members, foster carers, the people we support, and their families came together from across the country to make up our group of fabulous marchers.

Image: Phi, with pink hair and wearing a rainbow facemask, boards a plane with two women walking up the stairs behind her. One is holding a suitcase and smiling at the camera.

For many of our team and the people we support, this was the first parade they had attended and participated in!

“Walking in the Mardi Gras parade was an amazing experience and something I never thought I would have the opportunity to do. It felt like everyone I encountered in Sydney had stopped for 24hrs to celebrate life – it felt truly like a truly joyous event,” said Stacey Baldwin, MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ Home Hub Provider.

“Dare I say – it felt as though people from ‘all walks of life’ descended to celebrate, and the ‘minority’ became the ‘majority.’ I felt comfortable; I felt safe. I felt immense pride.”

Image: A group of people wearing black Life Without Barriers t-shirts and purple accessories smile at the camera.

There was a lot of excitement, glitter, and emotion as we marched down Oxford Street in rainbow formation, led by the Life Without Barriers float.

“It was amazing to sit on the float alongside a diverse group of people and witness them see themselves as equals. Thanks, Life Without Barriers, for providing an opportunity like this for us all to meet and have such a positive shared experience,” said Aajay Poole, Disability Support Worker.

“It was an incredible experience I will cherish for a long time. I am very grateful that I got this opportunity,” said a participant.

Image: Three men pose for a photo together. One wears a blue t-shirt and a glittery wig. The other two men are wearing black t-shirts with glittery accessories and eye make up.

Joining the parade, an amazing celebration with 500,000 people on the streets cheering along, was an incredible experience for the participants. Beyond the positive energy and thrilling atmosphere, the event also allowed attendees to connect through their shared pride and learn more about each other’s stories and identities.

Image: A man sitting on the Life Without Barriers float waves at the crowd, with parade participants waving ribbons in the background.

“No value can be put on this experience. To meet so many other Life Without Barriers carers, workers, and the entire crew was amazing and so much fun,” said foster carers Vijay and Matthew and their foster son Jacob.

“If you have the opportunity to be involved, grab it with both hands and know that you will come out richer for having done so.”

World Pride is a time to listen deeply, learn, take action, and come together as a community to support diversity and inclusion. At Life Without Barriers, we actively foster inclusion through the diversity of our people.

Image: Life Without Barriers Mardi Gras float during the parade.

We are proud to welcome all those of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics to join our organisation. Our participation in the Mardi Gras parade showed how we encourage our staff, carers, and the people we support to be themselves.

“For someone fairly new to working at Life Without Barriers who identifies as queer, trans and disabled, being able to attend Sydney World Pride and Mardi Gras for the first time was amazing,” said Scout Micallef, Professional Learning Specialist.

“It really demonstrated that the organisation is doing the work needed towards being diverse and inclusive. Meeting and sharing the experience with other staff, carers, and people we support just made it all extra special and colourful. Thank you!”

Image: A group of five people wearing rainbow costumes.

Our goal is to create a great place to work for everyone by embracing the individual skills, perspectives, and experiences our people bring to the workplace. One way we support this is through our employee network, Pride Without Barriers, which serves as a network and resource for LGBTQIA+ employees and their allies.

Phi Theodoros, Lead Resident Artist – Living Arts, shared the impact an LGBTQIA+ inclusive workplace can have on its employees.

“As a queer woman who can pass as straight, it took me a few years to come out at work; over time, I have worked to be as visible and proud as possible to provide opportunities for open conversations in the office and with our clients and carers.

“I am exceptionally proud to be part of the Pride Without Barriers Committee and to work with these champions to support all our Life Without Barriers community to learn about the experiences of our LGBTIQA+ community members and to embrace and celebrate all of our diverse identities.

“Knowing our organisation has a commitment to embracing and celebrating diversity and a desire to be visible on a global scale as advocates and supporters of the LGBTIQA+ community is so important.

“It speaks volumes to the staff who aren’t sure whether it is safe for them to be authentically and wholly themselves at work; it demonstrates that we are a safe and inclusive organisation for queer clients and those who wish to become foster carers.

“Thank you, Life Without Barriers, for being proud to stand with us, and for us, as queer members of your community.”

“I look forward to more events where we can continue to sparkle and shine with all the colours of the rainbow and so much pride!”

Image: Phi, wearing a black t-shirt, rainbow skirt and purple accessories, smiles at the camera as a man in a black t-shirt and purple accessories, helps Phi attach wings to her outfit.

Life Without Barriers started our LGBTQIA+ inclusion journey by being one of the first organisations to offer same-gender couples the opportunity to become foster carers. We recognise and respect all the ways relationships and families are found and formed, and we are proud to have had some of our carers from the LGBTQIA+ community march with us in the parade.

“As a single-sex married couple, Scott and I have wanted to settle down and start a family for the last couple of years. While we looked at many different routes, we decided that the best approach, to begin with, was to start down the fostering path,” said foster carer Chris.

“We chose Life Without Barriers because we felt that the service and approach aligned with our values and the LGBTQIA+ community. We have only been foster carers for a couple of months, but we have really enjoyed the experience with the two boys in our care. It has made us feel more complete as a family to share our home and our love with two boys in need.

“It was an honour to have been selected to join the Life Without Barriers float at the 2023 Mardi Gras in Sydney and represent what has become one of the most important aspects of our lives and proudly walk together with an amazing agency that shows the respect for our community that we deserve as loving carers.”

Image: Close up of Chris and Scott at Mardi Gras, wearing black t-shirts and orange accessories and smiling at the camera.

We are committed to our role in influencing the community to break down barriers. We know that people feel included if they are valued and respected for being themselves. Sharing this commitment, Deputy Chair of the Board, Gillian Calvert AO, joined us in the parade.

“I’m so proud of Life Without Barrier’s commitment to inclusion and diversity for all."

"It was a great night, spending time chatting with the people we support, their carers and staff, waving our rainbow and trans ribbons and seeing the crowd's support for the important work we do. Happy Mardi Gras and World Pride everyone,” said Gillian.

Image: Gillian Calvert AO and Leanne Johnson wearing black t-shirts and red accessories, smiling at the camera.

This year was the fourth time we have had the honour of participating in the Mardi Gras parade, and we were thrilled to be able to bring along so many people from the Life Without Barriers community to celebrate with us.

“Having 60 Life Without Barriers employees, foster and kinship carers, and people we support from all over Australia join us in Sydney for the Mardi Gras Parade was magical,” said Ashleigh Sternes, Diversity and Inclusion Lead.

“Our group was majority LGBTQIA+ and included people with disability, First Nations people, culturally diverse people, and people of all ages. It was an opportunity to celebrate the rich diversity of our community.”

Image: Life Without Barriers Mardi Gras parade participants smiling and waving at the camera.

LGBTQIA+ at Life Without Barriers

We support the LGBTQIA+ community both through our services and at events in the community

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