Diversity Festival was back online and on-campus from 18–22 September, featuring more than 40 free events and activities.
Students and staff from across the University and wider community joined the festival, which included a range of events including keynotes and panels, workshops, exhibitions, film screenings, performances, friendship building sessions and cultural food giveaways.
Themes explored included cultural diversity, neurodivergence, disability, LGBTIQ+ inclusion, human rights, social impact, mental health, community connections and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It highlighted the many ways being equitable, inclusive and celebrating our diversity can add value to our community and wider society.
Thought-provoking, inclusive and inspiring events
The More than Diversity event saw a keynote speech from Ellia Green followed by a panel discussion with students and professional and academic staff members from the UNSW community on how institutions can think differently about and dismantle structures of power and privilege. Attendees reported that it provoked thought, sparked dialogue within their areas and gave space to reflect on the lived experiences of students and staff throughout our community to better inform their work in the future.
Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, Ash McCullough and Jessica Cunning joined us for an insightful panel discussion on LGBTQIA+ rights that go beyond marriage equality. They talked about the work that is underway and what still needs to be done to achieve rights for queer, trans and intersex people.
This year, neurodiversity emerged as a key theme. At the Diverse Minds, Inclusive Campus: Celebrating All Abilities seminar, feedback showed that multiple conversations were sparked and continued after the event – with neurodiverse attendees expressing gratitude for the event, saying they felt seen, heard and understood.
The EDI x SDGs Pecha Kucha was a lively and fast-paced discussion, with 10 luminaries – ranging from students to university leaders – having three minutes each to demonstrate how their approaches to EDI intersect with the SDGs. There was a huge diversity in topics presented, including tax equity, how trees and green spaces can support better health and wellbeing, and how true crime podcasts feed into inequality in our criminal justice system.
Sonia Martin, Head of Culture, and Betty Gu, Cultural Engagement Officer, delivered a week-long social media video series That’s My Name which saw students introduce their names and cultural backgrounds with the aim of encouraging correct pronunciation.
Sonia Martin said, “You can expect to be moved by the authenticity and pride with which each student introduces themselves. As you watch these videos, you’ll experience a sense of connection and unity, realising that our campus is a vibrant mosaic of identities, languages and stories.”
On the UNSW Kensington campus, we unveiled a new design of the iconic Basser Steps (at the Helen Maguire Quad Lawn) which now incorporates the Progress Pride Flag. Students also have the opportunity to enter their own diversity and inclusion themed mural design for display at the Catherine Harris Courtyard. The competition, which is open until 30 October, is part of a range of campus artwork initiatives to encourage everyone to feel welcome on campus and celebrate diversity in our community.
A festival built on collaboration
One of the program’s key strengths was that it included contributions from a broad section of student and staff groups at UNSW. This included representation from multiple faculties and divisions, and significant input from Arc. Collaborators included the Yuwaya Ngarra-li Partnership, the UNSW Disability Innovation Institute, UNSW Estate Management, Health Promotions (SEXtember), and the Community of Practice for Inclusive Research with Queer, Trans & Intersex people.
A huge thank you to everyone who participated in Diversity Festival this year!