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Dual DSSG champions announced at Military Pride Ball


MAJGEN Anthony Rawlins

The Australian Defence Force recently celebrated the contributions of the diverse sex, sexuality and gender (DSSG) community at the annual Military Pride Ball.

 The Ball was the largest to date, attracting over 325 serving members of the ADF, Australian Public Servants, friends, family and support networks from other organisations, including sponsors PwC Australia, Pride In Diversity, and Defence Bank.

The night celebrated the significant contribution of DSSG members who serve in the ADF and work in the Department of Defence to contribute to the defence of Australia. The Grand Ballroom of the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney set the scene for an evening filled with music, celebration, and peer-support.

DEFGLIS President Nathan White led the event by introducing the unique theme for the event, “ALL OF US”.

“We have never ever stopped fighting for our community’s right to contribute in the defence of Australia, and for our talent to be seen, and our voices heard.” said White.

White described the strength of the diverse sex, sexuality and gender workforce in contributing unique perspectives in the contest of ideas. He described working in a high performing team as difficult and uncomfortable, and the birthplace of innovation.

“We are sitting among the most valuable team members in Defence. They are strong, well-connected, and resilient. They know who they are, why they serve and how to leverage that authenticity as war-fighters, team-leaders, and senior leaders.” said White.

The Defence Senior Leadership Team was well represented, including the Deputy Chief of Army, Major General Anthony Rawlins, DSC, AM who spoke of the importance of team cohesion across the Australian Defence Force during his delivery of the Keynote Address.

“[Our team] is a group that when circumstances demand performance, the diversity resident in its composition merges and combines to generate unity of purpose, and unity of effort.” said Rawlins.

Rawlins explained that those who suggest that diversity strategies are merely social engineering within large organisations are not seeing the bigger picture.

“The team that has a diversity of skills, talents, intellect and outlook, makes it far more capable, far better to function across a wider array of situations.”

Rawlins explained that diverse teams have greater perspectives and therefore see more. He went on to explain that diverse teams produced better analyses and had access to a larger toolbox during problem solving, planning and execution.

“Our team, the military team; encourages, amplifies and ultimately judges itself against one criteria. And that is, its performance as a team” said Rawlins.

Rawlins used the event as an opportunity to nominate himself as the Defence uniformed LGBTI Champion. Rawlins joins Mrs Lisa Phelps, First Assistant Secretary, People Services, Defence People Group as dual champions representative of the diarchy of the Department of Defence.

Lisa Phelps

Mrs Lisa Phelps, First Assistant Secretary, People Services addresses the 2019 Military Pride Ball as DSSG Champion

The DEFGLIS board of directors of recognised the special contributions of members through the DEFGLIS Awards for Excellence, which were presented by Mr Mark Latchford, Associate Director of Pride In Diversity.

Mr Michael O’Reilly of Defence Bank Australia presented the Defence Bank Award for Outstanding Inclusion, to recognize a unit or organization who significantly contributed to the inclusion of members of diverse sex, sexuality and gender in Defence.

The full awardee list is as follows:

Excellence in Inclusion Award

Major Michael Sipple

For outstanding leadership and commitment to inclusion as an ally to the diverse sex, sexuality and gender community.

Excellence in Innovation Award

Flight Lieutenant (Chaplain) Stuart Asquith

For his courage and commitment to inclusion as a military chaplain and the chair of Equal Voices – an association committed to promoting inclusion for people of faith.

Excellence in Wellbeing Award

Dr John Norgrove

For outstanding support to the diverse sex, sexuality and gender community as the senior medical practitioner of Duntroon Health Centre.

President’s Award for Excellence.

Petty Officer Karen Dwyer

For her dedication to improving inclusion as the diverse sex, sexuality and gender advisor of Navy’s diversity reference team, and her continued passion to support and deliver results through inclusion initiatives across multiple organisations.

Defence Bank Award for Outstanding Inclusion

No. 35 Squadron – Royal Australian Air Force

For their unit-wide approach to supporting the inclusion of members of diverse sex, sexuality and gender and supporting Air Force members at RAAF Base Amberley through inclusive practice and leadership.


Images of the event can be found by visiting the DEFGLIS photo page

Images courtesy of Ann-Marie Calihanna for DEFGLIS