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As the principal sponsor for Ozwater 2021 in Adelaide, SA Water was proud to host the first national in-person event for Pride in Water, a network to support a more inclusive water industry for LGBTIQ+ staff, contractors, customers and the broader community.

Ozwater 2021, Australia’s international water conference and trade exhibition run each year by the Australian Water Association, featured a number of presentations focused on diversity, inclusion and equity, with Pride in Water a key part of the program.

SA Water is one of 29 organisations supporting Pride in Water, and like many of its interstate counterparts, has its own Pride network – Pride Together – made up of 75 of the utility’s employees.

SA Water General Manager of Strategy, Engagement and Innovation, Anna Jackson, said the purpose of Pride Together is to connect the LGBTIQ+ community and their allies at SA Water, and Ozwater provided the perfect opportunity to expand this connection to people outside South Australia.

Leigh Hoffrichter (SA Water), Princess Laya and Anna Jackson (SA Water).

“We’re working to build visibility and support across our organisation to ensure our LGBTIQ+ people feel safe, valued and included,” Ms Jackson said.

“The Pride in Water events at this year’s Ozwater conference publicly demonstrates the wider water industry’s support and enables people to understand the value and contribution those with diverse experiences and views bring to our everyday operations.

“For me, growing this understanding and appreciation is an integral outcome of the network’s role. Everyone has the right to feel safe, included and valued at work and this role aligns with my core values of equity and human rights.

“For SA Water, creating an organisation that is diverse and inclusive, where people feel safe to bring their whole selves to work will enable them to do their best work, and when we reflect the community we serve, we know we can best meet their needs.”

Established in 2019, Pride in Water was co-founded by two LGBTIQ+ employees at Yarra Valley Water – Jacquie Moon and Brendan Moore – with the initiative driven by their lived experiences working in the water industry.

Mr Moore said he was motivated to co-found Pride in Water due to the discrimination, hardships and exclusion he had felt throughout his career.

“As an engineer who has worked in regional locations across Australia in operational and construction-based roles, I struggled to feel supported to bring my authentic self to work,” Mr Moore said.

“I always feared that revealing that I was gay would inhibit my career progression and cause strain on my professional relationships.

“Jacquie and I wanted to address the importance of LGBTIQ+ inclusion in our industry, to create a visible organisation and role models within it who we had always wished to see when we were starting our careers, and hopefully remove or reduce the barriers and issues for future and current LGBTIQ+ people who join the water industry.”

Princess Laya, Jacquie Moon (Yarra Valley Water), Brendan Moore (Yarra Valley Water) and Carmel Krogh (AWA).

Ms Moon said her motivation was to challenge and change the culture of the water industry.

“I want to work in a place where I and my other LGBTIQ+ workmates can feel proud of who we are, that values our diverse lived experience, and creates a safe place for everyone,” Ms Moon said.

“Whether you are an LGBTIQ+ parent of a rainbow family, a parent that may have a child that has come out as bisexual, or a workmate that is transitioning gender – you should feel proud and seen for who you are at work.

“We all have a role in making our workplaces feel safe and inclusive by learning, listening and visibly showing that we support and celebrate LGBTIQ+ inclusion. 

“Through the work of Pride in Water, we hope that no matter where you work in the water industry in Australia, you will feel safe and supported.”

As part of the Pride in Water get-together, members and delegates participated in the Pride in Water Workshop, themed around channelling LGBTIQ+ change in the Australian water industry as well as a networking event to meet colleagues from across Australia with a shared passion in inclusion.

Showcasing her best frock for the occasion, Drag Artist Princess Laya hosted and entertained the crowd at the networking event.

“As a gay man working in the water industry, I am honoured and very excited for Adelaide to be given the magnificent opportunity to host Pride in Water at this year’s Ozwater conference and showcase my dazzling drag artistry,” Princess Laya said.

“I have been doing drag actively for 12 years in between my full-time job, and my manager and work colleagues have always supported and encouraged me to excel in my passion and have even seen a few of my shows.

“I am absolutely delighted and grateful to work in an organisation that not only celebrates diversity but is inclusive of all its LGBTIQ+ people.”

David Ryan (SA Water) and Princess Laya.

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