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Wednesday 14 July 2021
Dear sector colleagues,
Today is International Non-Binary People’s Day — an opportunity to celebrate non-binary people and the rich diversity of our community.
Non-binary is a term used to describe someone who does not exclusively identify as a man or a woman. A person might identify solely as non-binary or relate to non-binary as an umbrella term and consider themselves genderfluid, genderqueer, agender, bigender, or gender diverse in another way.
Although there are many terms to understand, the important thing to note is gender is a deeply personal experience, and it’s up to a person to define it for themselves – no one can tell a person what their gender is based on how they perceive them to look or act.
This day is an opportunity for us to acknowledge and raise awareness of a spectrum of gender identities that are outside the gender binary (simply male or female). At the same time, we want to reinforce the importance of equity, fairness, and the benefits of diversity in our workplace and community.
At DHS, we recognise the importance of this day and the ongoing work required to secure full protections and rights for non-binary folks in our workplace and in the community.
We have encouraged the use of gender-neutral language and pronouns in communications such as email. This not only lets us communicate more respectfully and effectively but fosters a safe environment for people with different gender identities to tell you how they wish to be referred to.
The requirement to identify exclusively male or female categories on all documents such as surveys and forms will also be removed.
I am also pleased to announce that we have introduced a new Data Collection and Gender guideline to help improve the way gender is measured and recorded across the department, and by the services we fund.
Following a roundtable discussion in 2019 that identified mechanisms for the LGBTIQA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Queer, and Asexual) community to engage with government and raise their concerns, a number of recommendations were suggested to our department including the need to improve data collection about LGBTIQA+ communities.
In line with this recommendation and our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2020–23, a Data Collection and Gender guideline was developed in a bid to provide advice about how to collect and report data on gender, and to:
- Explain the difference between sex and gender.
- Highlight some of the complexities experienced by LGBTIQA+ people.
- Provide recommendations on how to be a better ally.
- Provide links to further resources and workplace training.
Collecting demographic data, including gender data, in conjunction with other outcomes data, is important for identifying whether equal or unequal outcomes are being achieved for South Australians. Given we value “fairness…for all South Australians” at DHS, having this insight is critical, and can help us inform policy, practice and funding decisions.
Whilst adjusting how we measure and report gender may seem like a small change, it is an important one – and signals the ongoing support in our workplace, the community, and LGBTIQA+ communities more broadly.
I would like to pass on my special thanks to Riki Owens-Bennett (They/Them/Theirs) from Uniting Communities’ Bfriend service, who helped co-write the guide and recommended people with expertise to edit this work.