A growing tradition in public sector engagement is celebration and recognition of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia — IDAHOT or IDAHOBIT — held every year on May 17.
This year’s theme is ‘Alliances in Solidarity’, a transparent call for allies to show their support for those who felt, well, less-than-supported during last November’s national same-sex marriage survey.
At the time of the postal survey, federal, state and territory public servants were urged to stay out of the campaign, which was interpreted by many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex government employees as walking back the diversity message agencies had been promoting — that past support was simply being ‘fair weather friends’.
But that was 2017. It’s now 2018 and there’s a lot of catching up to do.
Also, cakes … there’s always frosting of some kind for IDAHOBIT.
Over at the Department of Human Services, Jen Rufati, General Manager, Smart Centres, Indigenous and Intensive Servicing, is the department’s executive champion for LGBTI staff across the organisation and “proud to be an ally”.
“IDAHOT is an important day – a day to raise awareness of the discrimination the community still faces globally,” Jen said.
“We are one of the largest Australian Government agencies employing more than 35,000 staff across the country, so it’s important that it is a place of work that’s accepting of all people regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.”
Many if not most government departments, including DHS, now have an LGBTI employee network for share their ideas, engage and inform the department on initiatives and strategies relevant to LGBTI people.

Chris Lusham from DHS’ Liverpool Smart Centre is encouraging staff in Liverpool to wear rainbow colours to work on 17 May and will be arranging a morning tea where LGBTI staff and allies can come together and celebrate.

It’s not just mega departments that are choosing to get involved. Small agencies from around Australia, with diverse areas of responsibility from the Victorian Planning Authority to the Nuclear Safety Agency, are also marking IDAHOT, with local events, a quick word from a senior executive, or a staff profile of one of their LGBTI employees.