Diversity Fest is a week-long celebration from 23 – 27 September bringing students and staff together to embrace the diversity of our UNSW community and ignite broader conversations on creating an inclusive society, where everyone can participate.

The full program of events includes inspirational panel discussions, music concerts to film screenings, social gatherings and more. Our minds are open to respect and accept diversity in our community and focus on celebrating what unites us all.

The festival is a proud initiative of the Division of Equity Diversity & Inclusion.

Events

Monday 23 September
SUPPORTING WOMEN IN SCIENCE
SUPPORTING WOMEN IN SCIENCE
John B. Reid Theatre, AGSM Building
Monday 23 September, 10:00am - 2:00pm

This seminar will highlight UNSW scientists and leaders in their fields speaking on the topic of gender equality in STEM, the art of multitasking, the reality of playing many roles in work and in life, and the ways in which we can support women in science.

Invited speakers will share their personal and academic journeys that have led them to where they are today. Following the main speakers, a panel of UNSW students and early career professionals will host a Q&A session discussing themes such as challenges in each academic stage, balancing work and personal life, and the future for women pursuing science careers.

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AT THE INTERSECTIONS: MENTAL HEALTH AND DIVERSE POPULATIONS
AT THE INTERSECTIONS: MENTAL HEALTH AND DIVERSE POPULATIONS
Mathews Building
Monday 23 September, 10:30 - 11:30am

This event will feature several key experts who will speak to the intersection between diverse populations and mental health. These experts who work and/or research in the mental health space will speak to areas such as cultural and linguistic diversity and disability.

They will each give a short presentation before joining together as a panel and taking audience questions. This event promises to be thought provoking and invite reflection as we all consider ways to best support and acknowledge unique challenges faced by different communities.

More information
BI TALKS, BI LIVES
BI TALKS, BI LIVES
Studio One
Monday 23 September, 11:45am - 1:15pm

Bisexual Visibility Day has been marked internationally on 23 September since 1999 to highlight biphobia, bi-invisibility, bi-erasure and to help people find their bisexual community.

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of this date by hearing the experiences of bi people from all walks of life. This event is an opportunity for the bisexual community, their friends and supporters to recognise and celebrate bisexual history, community and culture.

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INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT FOR WOMEN IN ACADEMIA (IN AUSTRALIA)
INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT FOR WOMEN IN ACADEMIA (IN AUSTRALIA)
John Goodsell Building
Monday 23 September, 12:00 - 1:00pm

UNSW is Australia’s global university and has adopted comprehensive international strategies across their teaching, research and outreach agendas. But as academics dealing with an intensive workload, teaching commitment, limited funding, and challenges of work-life balance, international engagement is not as easy as it sounds.

The two speakers for this lunch have been asked to discuss such challenges for academic women in Australia and offer guidance from their personal perspectives as to how they recommend approaching it.

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WOMEN IN STEAM PHOTO EXHIBITION
WOMEN IN STEAM PHOTO EXHIBITION
Foyer, Biosciences Building
Monday 23 September, 2:00 - 3:00 pm

Women in STEAM is a photographic journey of women in STEM, with 'A' for art inserted into the acronym. This exhibition encourages scientists to view their world and communicate their science through art.

This exhibition is an accompaniment to the 'Supporting Women in Science' seminar held earlier the day. Light refreshments will be served.

More information
edi town hall
EDI Town Hall
Leighton Hall
Monday 23 September, 2:30 - 3:30pm

You are invited to join in the conversation on how we can offer a more inclusive working, teaching and learning community for everyone.

Professor Eileen Baldry (Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Equity Diversity & Inclusion) will be joined by student partners and the UNSW Diversity Champions to highlight the Division's achievements, the key initiatives underway and upcoming plans to support UNSW’s 2025 vision to be an international exemplar of equity, diversity and inclusion.

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UNSW MEDICINE DIVERSITY DEBATE
UNSW MEDICINE DIVERSITY DEBATE
John B. Reid Theatre, AGSM Building
Monday 23 September, 3:30 - 5:00pm

UNSW Medicine is delighted to invite you to the inaugural Diversity Debate with a distinguished panel of academics, professionals and students from across the faculty.

Come and enjoy afternoon tea and a lively and entertaining debate about diversity and inclusion within the context of training our next generation of doctors and health professionals.

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QUEER DIP, DODGE AND DANCE
QUEER DIP, DODGE AND DANCE
UNSW Fitness and Aquatic Centre
Monday 23 September, 5:30 - 9:00pm

In collaboration with the UNSW Queer Collective, the UNSW Fitness and Aquatic Centre proudly presents the inaugural Queer Dip, Dodge and Dive!

This inclusive event provides free entry to the gym and pool for the evening, access to an exclusive Zumba session, access to the Dodgeball competition and free food will be available.

Register now
Tuesday 24 September
STUDENT MINDS® 2019 CONFERENCE
STUDENT MINDS® 2019 CONFERENCE
The Roundhouse
Tuesday 24 September, 9:45am - 5:00pm

Student Minds® is the student voice on mental health. Their 2019 Conference, 'The Diverse Mind: Celebrating Our Differences', will look at Student mental health and wellbeing through the lenses of LGBTQIA+, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander People, culturally and linguistically diverse groups and people with a disability.

We will hear from experts and people with their own lived experience and will facilitate opportunities for collaboration. Join us to create a campus culture which supports students from all backgrounds to thrive. Let’s celebrate our differences while maintaining our sense of individuality!

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INCLUSIVE EDUCATION SHOWCASE
INCLUSIVE EDUCATION SHOWCASE
Gallery 1, Scientia Building
Tuesday 24 September, 12:00 - 2:00pm

Inclusive Education comprises practices that make teaching and learning more accessible to all students. It is framed by the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to increase the accessibility of tertiary education to a wider population of students. UDL is implemented through various practices, technologies, and the co-production of courses with people with disability.

This interactive showcase is for anyone interested in the technologies and practices of inclusive education design to make teaching and learning more accessible to all students.

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CULTURAL COOKOUT
CULTURAL COOKOUT
Village Green
Tuesday 24 September, 12:00 - 2:00pm

UNSW is a meeting place for an array of different nationalities, cultures and ethnocultural identities. All are invited to join us in attempting to break a world record for the most culturally diverse barbecue! Bring your flag, represent your culture and enjoy a free feed.

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REFUGEES IN THE MEDIA: ACCESS AND CONTROL
REFUGEES IN THE MEDIA: ACCESS AND CONTROL
Lecture Theatre G17, Webster Building
Tuesday 24 September, 3:30 - 5:00pm

Refugees and asylum seekers enter the media through different doors: from the news, to cinema, and in many non-mainstream channels.

This panel explores these entry points for refugees in the media through presentations on three different forms of access: indirect access – this involves the representation of refugees and asylum seekers provided by the news media through journalist reporting, which offers little control on the part of those who are represented; mediated access – this refers to the narrative created around refugees and asylum seekers through documentaries, in which parties work together; and direct access – this sees asylum seekers and refugees taking the camera in their own hands; here, power is held by the storytellers. Through the case studies presented, the panel will offer a lens for reflection on the different dimensions of access and control for refugees in the media.

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CAREERES IN EQUITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION PANEL
CAREERES IN EQUITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION PANEL
Colombo Theatre C
Tuesday 24 September, 4:00 - 6:00pm

Hosted by Career Accelerator @ UNSW Business School, this panel discussion will focus on the career pathways available for students interested in working to increase inclusion and participation within organisations.

Featuring a panel of speakers, they will share their career stories which led to their roles and provide guidance for working as an equity, diversity and inclusion practitioner. We would welcome our network of industry partners working or with an interest in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to attend.

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GAME CHANGERS
Game Changers
The Roundhouse
Tuesday 24 September, 6:00 - 7:30pm

Diversity in sport matters

While some sporting stars reject the notion that they are role models, others have harnessed their influence for the greater good.

Panellists

  • Dylan Alcott OAM (Wheelchair tennis player)
  • Ellia Green OAM (Rugby Sevens player)
  • Sharni Layton (AFLW player / former netballer)
  • Casey Conway (Manager of Inclusion and Diversity, NRL)
Register now
OUTDOOR CINEMA SCREENING: MOONLIGHT
OUTDOOR CINEMA SCREENING: MOONLIGHT
Alumni Lawn
Tuesday 24 September, 6:00 - 8:00pm

The UNSW Ethno-Cultural Collective invites you to enjoy cinema under the stars with a screening of Moonlight. This Oscar-winning Best Picture film is a touching intersection of coming-of-age, queerness, and racial identity.

Register now
Wednesday 25 September
HUMP DAY
HUMP DAY
Quad Lawn
Wednesday 25 September, 11:00am - 5:00pm

To celebrate Sex-tember and Diversity Fest the Arc Wellness Warriors and UNSW Health Service are collaborating. They are hosting a Hump Day Pop-Up to help all students take control of their sexual health by providing information, free condoms, free STI checks and free cupcakes!

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UNSW WOMEN CONNECT: HER CAREER COMPASS
UNSW WOMEN CONNECT: HER CAREER COMPASS
Business Lounge
Wednesday 25 September, 11:45am - 1:15pm

Hosted by Deputy Chancellor, Jillian Segal AO and moderated by UNSW Gender Champions, hear from a panel of professional women about the challenges, rewards and pathway opportunities their careers have presented them, with tips on how to progress and thrive in the workplace.

Panellists

  • Rebecca Harcourt (Program Manager, Indigenous Business Education, UNSW Business School)
  • Alison Avery (UNSW Head of Precinct Communication and Engagement)
  • Jillian Segal AO (UNSW Deputy Chancellor)
Register now
QUEER WRITES WRITING WORKSHOP
QUEER WRITES WRITING WORKSHOP
Goldstein Hall
Wednesday 25 September, 2:00 - 3:00pm

Join the team behind Queer Writes for one of the workshops they are hosting each week of Term 3.

Queer Writes is the voice for the LGBTQIA+ student body at UNSW, and is proudly brought to you by the UNSW Queer Collective. The bi-weekly publication brings you all things topical, funny, creative, thirsty, and artistic by some of your favourite queers on campus!

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JEWISH NEW YEAR FESTIVAL
JEWISH NEW YEAR FESTIVAL
Library Lawn
Wednesday 25 September, 2:00 - 5:00pm

Join the Australasian Union of Jewish Students in bringing in the Jewish New Year

You don't want to miss out on...

  • Honey-cake decorating
  • Israeli music
  • Pot-planting

Looking forward to celebrating with you!

More information
BE INCLUSIVE
BE INCLUSIVE
Red Centre Gallery
Wednesday 25 September, 5:00 - 6:00pm

Do you know how to BE inclusive? Knowing what to say and do to help others feel included can be a challenge.

Come along for a bite to eat while you watch the first screening of a micro film produced by Built Environment that captures tips and suggestions from UNSW students on ways that you can think, speak, act, live and BE inclusive.

More information
RIDE LIKE A GIRL PREVIEW SCREENING
'RIDE LIKE A GIRL' PREVIEW SCREENING
Randwick Ritz Cinema
Wednesday 25 September, 6:00 - 8:00pm

Join us for a preview screening of this highly anticipated film!

Ride Like A Girl tells the incredible true story of Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to ride a Melbourne Cup winner. It is the directorial debut of Rachel Griffiths; and stars Teresa Palmer, Sam Neill and Magda Szubanski.

Register now
Thursday 26 September
DIVERSITY SHOWCASE
DIVERSITY SHOWCASE
Leighton Hall
Thursday 26 September, 10:00am - 5:00pm

Diversity Showcase is a UNSW Careers and Employment event aiming to showcase EDI initiatives at UNSW, and connect UNSW staff, students, academics, industry experts and alumni across all diversity dimensions.

Featuring graduate, internship and mentoring programs from corporate and government that demonstrate examples of best practice and reflect diversity within industry. This event will be open to UNSW students, staff, alumni and organisations interested in UNSW diverse students.

Register now
STEM WOMEN PROFILE WRITING LUNCH
STEM WOMEN PROFILE WRITING LUNCH
Biosciences North Building
Thursday 26 September, 12:00 - 2:00pm

Did you know that only 17% of profiles on Wikipedia are of women, or that 92% of the most followed scientists on Twitter are men?

Creating or refreshing your professional profile will not only promote your own work, it will bring much needed visibility to the diversity of STEM. Over a relaxed lunch we will guide participants to add their profile to the STEM Women database, a new online directory that connects women to industry, media and outreach opportunities. Staff will be on hand to take profile photos and provide proof reading and writing advice.

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PILLOWTALK
PILLOWTALK
Quad Lawn
Thursday 26 September, 5:30 - 7:00pm

Does talking about sex make you uncomfortable? Are you feeling more pain than pleasure? Got burning questions about sex? Or burning sensations during sex?

Sex is great, but sometimes it can be awkward and painful and confusing or maybe just a little bit mediocre and realistically we don’t talk about that enough. And let’s be real, sex ed at school is woefully deficient, ESPECIALLY if you’re not straight. Join us for an open, inclusive fun chat about sex in a manner you can’t read in a book.

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BEYOND REFUGE: DIALOGUES
BEYOND REFUGE: DIALOGUES
IO Myers Theatre
Thursday 26 September, 6:00 - 7:30pm

Beyond Refuge has been a three year creative development program for artists who share an asylum seeker and refugee experience, curated by Western Sydney-based organisation CuriousWorks.

Recently arrived and first generation artists collaborated to give voice and vision to new stories of our times, from the kernel of an idea through to the creation of unique film and photo-media projects. A team of experienced Australian artists and community collaborators, led by CuriousWorks, supported each artistic team and produced the works, focussing on process, voice and professional opportunity.

More information
SEX WORKER RIGHTS
SEX WORKER RIGHTS
Women's Collective Space
Thursday 26 September, 6:30 - 7:30pm

UNSW Women's Collective is hosting a panel on sex worker rights, particularly looking at the effects of the online US laws SESTA/FOSTA on Australia workers.

A lot of university students engage in sex work and it's important as intersectional feminists that we remember; sex worker rights are human rights. The panel discussion features representatives from Scarlett Alliance, Sex Worker Outreach Project (SWOP) and student representatives. After the panel there will be a brief ‘You Can’t Ask That’ style Q&A discussion.

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step aside
Step Aside
The Roundhouse
Thursday 26 September, 7:00 - 11:00pm

Step aside. Make space. Support diversity in the music industry.

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Friday 27 September
TALK TO ME MEETUP
TALK TO ME MEETUP
Michael Birt Lawn
Friday 27 September, 11:00am - 12:00pm

TALK TO ME is an initiative aimed at creating space for meaningful conversations and collaboration between the varied ethnic, racial, political, and socio-economic groups at UNSW. A space for staff and students from different Schools, Divisions and walks of life to come together and connect.

Join us for a bite to eat and a chat with a stranger!

Register now
WHY ARE HIV RATES GOING DOWN IN AUSTRALIA?
WHY ARE HIV RATES GOING DOWN IN AUSTRALIA?
John Goodsell Building
Friday 27 September, 1:00 - 2:00pm

HIV was once considered unstoppable, but in the last 5 years there has been a 23% decline in diagnoses in Australia. While the decline in diagnoses should be celebrated there are groups of people that are being left behind.

To discuss these HIV trends, UNSW is hosting a community panel that focuses on the lived experience of people that are at higher risk of acquiring HIV. You will hear from community members and experts in the field, including Kirby’s Institute’s ‘EPIC-NSW Study’ which is an HIV Epidemiology Prevention Program.

Register now
OPENING OF THE BIG ANXIETY
OPENING OF THE BIG ANXIETY
UNSW Galleries, Paddington Campus
Friday 27 September, 6:00 - 8:00pm

The Big Anxiety – festival of arts + science + people, brings together artists, scientists and communities to question and re-imagine the state of mental health in the 21st century.

Whether through hi-tech interactive environments or one-on-one dialogues, the festival’s goal is to create the rich engagements we need for our collective mental health. It runs from 27 September - 16 November.

More information
INTER-UNI QUEER CRUISE
INTER-UNI QUEER CRUISE
King Street Wharf, Darling Harbour
Friday 27 September, 6:30 - 10:00pm

The Queerest Unis in Sydney are throwing one MASSIVE party ON A BOAT!

Come dressed as queer royalty; this could mean an icon in queer history, your fave drag queen/king or even Queen Lizzie herself! Get creative, as the best costume will win a FABULOUS prize!

This event is open for everyone so bring along your TAFE mates and graduate gal pals too!

Register now
All week
THE BALUDARRI REEF MAKING PROJECT
THE BALUDARRI REEF MAKING PROJECT
The Quad Lawn
Monday 23 September - Friday 27 September, 11:30am - 1:30pm

Participate in the creation of an artwork with Dr Sarah Jane Moore (Oyster Artist in Residence, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences)

Created over the duration of Diversity Fest, oyster beds will be made using organic sugar cane bales, clay, Shoalhaven river mud and the shells of the Baludarri (Sydney rock oysters). This project gives participants the opportunity to engage in activities that promote awareness of Aboriginal well-being and the importance of land based cultural practices. Participants from all backgrounds and all generations are welcome to work with Sarah Jane and engage in knowledge exchange.

More information
IDENTITY MURAL
IDENTITY MURAL
Kensington Campus
Monday 23 September - Friday 27 September

Arc volunteering program Wellness Warriors is celebrating the different ways we make up our unique identity. You’re invited to contribute to their mural to highlight your configuration of identifiers.

More information
WIE CAN
WIE CAN: CELEBRATING WOMEN IN ENGINEERING AT UNSW
Foyer, Ainsworth Building
Monday 23 September - Friday 27 September

The WIE Can campaign was established to highlight and celebrate a group of UNSW’s inspiring female alumni who are role models within the engineering profession.

This pop-up exhibition showcases the nine appointed Ambassadors – all at varying stages of their careers – who are encouraged to share their stories through various Women in Engineering events, programs and channels over the next twelve months.

More information

Read our stories

Collins Fleischner

Collins Fleischner | UNSW staff I he / him / his

"Diversity is about uplifting the voices that have often been unheeded – and valuing these voices equally. It’s recognising that our common humanity is strong enough to withstand and is in fact enriched by our differences."

Collins is Filipino-Austrian and moved to Australia at 13 years old. As a ‘gay, brown immigrant’, finding a sense of belonging in Australia hasn’t always been easy. Actions that make someone feel excluded are sometimes overt (such as being bullied in school) or more subtle, such as when people ask Collins - “but where are you really from?” This question is not often asked of white Australians and conveys the notion that to be Australian there is a certain physical criterion - skin colour, facial features - and that people who look different are foreigners.

"If you grew up in Australia or have made a deep connection to this country, you would rightly call Australia home. I believe our values are big enough to welcome people from all cultures."

Collins believes true diversity isn’t just about filling a quota, but rather uplifting the voices that have often been unheeded – and valuing these voices equally. Since joining UNSW in 2018 as Project Manager for Education Focussed Career Development, Collins has seen firsthand the university’s commitment to fostering inclusivity through actionable policies.

However, Collins says people’s day-to-day behaviour also contributes to shaping a community that values diversity. “I work with colleagues who value diversity but sometimes feel unsure. They worry about saying the ‘wrong thing’. Being inclusive isn’t always about being perfectly politically correct. I think an attitude of openness and willingness to learn is far more important. Learn that hard-to-pronounce name, give minorities the chance to speak up in meetings or back them if they have a great idea, and do your bit to make sure everyone feels appreciated and that they belong to this great community.”

Elizabeth Quarashie

Elizabeth Quarashie | UNSW student I she / her

As I couldn't see a single African person online, I almost didn't enrol.

Elizabeth completed her undergraduate degree in Ghana, Africa. Seven years later, with an interest to studying aboard, she started researching Australian universities. She quickly discovered there was an under representation of African students across university websites. "There was not a single image of a black person on the UNSW website." Worried she would not fit in, she almost gave up the chance to study at UNSW.

"Ghana is an extremely homogenous country. I needed to know I would be safe and have a positive experience studying in Australia."

Elizabeth gained some confidence seeing students of different ethnicities online, even though she could not see herself. While studying Commerce, Economics and Finance, she has immersed herself in Australia’s multiculturalism; the foods, lifestyles and cultures that are part of mainstream society.

"I hope to inspire other Africans to study overseas and show the international community that Australia can be everyone's home away from home."

Rebecca Shuptrine

Rebecca Shuptrine | UNSW staff I she / her

Society underestimates the valuable contribution and employability of people with disability.

Rebecca was reluctant to disclose her Multiple Sclerosis in previous workplaces. She feared that by disclosing her chronic illness, people would assume she was less capable than her colleagues. She refused to let her physical limitations define her.

"It's very important to be valued for my professional abilities and not be seen as my disability."

UNSW is the only workplace where she has openly disclosed her disability. Initially there were mixed reactions. While most of her colleagues were supportive, a few had concerns she would struggle to manage the workload. “There is an assumption that people with a disability will hinder workplace productivity or be a liability. Through the right support and work culture, people with disabilities can wholly contribute, and bring value to their role.

"It also reminds us how diverse the human condition really is."

As Program Manager for the Division of Equity Diversity & Inclusion, Rebecca is developing the Disability Inclusion Action Plan to ensure UNSW can offer a more accessible and inclusive environment for people with disabilities alongside other projects. "I love my job. I feel lucky to be paving the way for more positive experiences for students and staff including those with disability, and to ensure everyone is seen for who they truly are."

Elakkiya

Elakkiya Narayanasamy Ramaraja | UNSW student I she / her

It's our choice to succeed, mother can achieve their study goals.

Elakkiya was nervous when she decided to uproot her life, leaving India and her husband, to study a Master of Data Science at UNSW with their 20-month old daughter. Elakkiya was initially anxious by the unfamiliar surroundings and adjusting to Australian culture. Daily tasks such as buying groceries and being the sole carer for baby Deshna were daunting at first.

"I was scared, but I would often tell myself – this is my choice. I am here because this is what I want to do. I am doing this for me."

Despite the fears she once had, she has now settled into her life in Australia. She credits the adjustment to the support of staff and fellow students at UNSW. "My Professors understand that students may be parents, carers, with commitments outside of university.” Elakkiya was able to sit a 6pm exam at an earlier time, as it would have been impossible to find childcare for Deshna. Friends babysit her daughter during lectures, or when she needs to check up on an experiment. "Everyone on-campus knows Deshna."

Elakkiya believes the barriers in front of us can be knocked down and is passionate about women recognising their potential to achieve their goals.

"It's our choice to succeed. Being a mother is not a ‘no’ but rather a moment to think - how can I make this work for me? If I can juggle full-time studies, take care of my daughter and be away from family – anything is possible."

Jake Fing

Jake Fing I UNSW student | he / him / his

My Aboriginal identity is often challenged by racial stereotyping.

Jake Fing is tired of the question, "How much Aboriginal are you?" While the question is usually born out of curiosity and not malice, it has discriminatory roots in racial profiling and institutionalised racism. Jake is the Indigenous Officer for the SRC Collective, a single parent and a final year Law/Arts student. Jake's Caucasian appearance means he is often asked to measure his Aboriginality in fractions, and this upsets him.

"In Aboriginal culture we don’t measure it. I am Aboriginal and that’s enough."

Jake has Indigenous heritage, was raised with First Nation values and has deep relationships with Aboriginal culture. "Nura Gili has had a positive impact on my experience at UNSW." He wants people to understand what you see on the surface, isn’t always reflective of the full person.

"I feel we need to see each other as complex, and uniquely different human beings – impossible to box or systematically categorise. We can be better humans to each other by being open, accepting and helping others understand our differences."

Tony Kage

Tony Kage | UNSW student I he / him / his

We all have a unique story to share for anyone who is willing to listen.

Born to Vietnamese immigrants, Tony knows firsthand the importance of creating a sense of belonging and welcome for people from different cultural backgrounds. UNSW Masters student, Tony feels the diverse student community has enriched his learning experience, allowing him to appreciate different perspectives. "If someone disagrees with you, it doesn’t mean anyone is wrong, they simply view things from a different lens, and have different lived experiences."

"Keep an open mind and see what you can learn."

Tony advocates for empathy, understanding and respect. Tony says inclusivity is about embracing people for who they are and trying to be conscious of how your actions may impact the way someone else feels. His top tip? "If you happen to notice someone looking a little left out, try and make first contact and introduce yourself. We all have a unique story to share for anyone who is willing to listen."

Sara Talebloo

Sara Talebloo I UNSW staff I she / her

Don't immediately assume someone's religion based on their ethnicity. It's time to start having elevated conversations with each other.

The daughter of a Muslim father and Baha’i mother, Sara and her siblings were raised in a harmonious, interfaith family. In her late teens, Sara decided to practice the Baha’i faith – a religion that focuses on the oneness of mankind, removal of all prejudices and equality between women and men.

Sara is a globetrotter who worked in the United Kingdom and Israel, before coming to Australia and working for UNSW in Estate Management. Coming to Australia, she realised many Australians had preconceived notions about the Middle East and do not realise the diverse range of people that live there.

"People often assume I am Muslim because my family are from Iran."

Yet, the Middle East is full of culture that dates to 3500BC and has a large Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian and Baha’i population. “Not everyone in the Middle East is Muslim.” This common assumption ignores that religious beliefs and practices – are not bound to the colour of our skin, or cultural heritage.

"I hope to give the wider community courage to ask, rather than assume someone’s religion, gender or sexuality based on the way we look."

Read
our
stories

Collins Fleischner Collins Fleischner
Collins Fleischner

Collins Fleischner | UNSW staff I he / him / his

"Diversity is about uplifting the voices that have often been unheeded – and valuing these voices equally. It’s recognising that our common humanity is strong enough to withstand and is in fact enriched by our differences."

Collins is Filipino-Austrian and moved to Australia at 13 years old. As a ‘gay, brown immigrant’, finding a sense of belonging in Australia hasn’t always been easy. Actions that make someone feel excluded are sometimes overt (such as being bullied in school) or more subtle, such as when people ask Collins - “but where are you really from?” This question is not often asked of white Australians and conveys the notion that to be Australian there is a certain physical criterion - skin colour, facial features - and that people who look different are foreigners.

"If you grew up in Australia or have made a deep connection to this country, you would rightly call Australia home. I believe our values are big enough to welcome people from all cultures."

Collins believes true diversity isn’t just about filling a quota, but rather uplifting the voices that have often been unheeded – and valuing these voices equally. Since joining UNSW in 2018 as Project Manager for Education Focussed Career Development, Collins has seen firsthand the university’s commitment to fostering inclusivity through actionable policies.

However, Collins says people’s day-to-day behaviour also contributes to shaping a community that values diversity. “I work with colleagues who value diversity but sometimes feel unsure. They worry about saying the ‘wrong thing’. Being inclusive isn’t always about being perfectly politically correct. I think an attitude of openness and willingness to learn is far more important. Learn that hard-to-pronounce name, give minorities the chance to speak up in meetings or back them if they have a great idea, and do your bit to make sure everyone feels appreciated and that they belong to this great community.”

Elizabeth Quarashie Elizabeth Quarashie
Elizabeth Quarashie

Elizabeth Quarashie | UNSW student I she / her

As I couldn't see a single African person online, I almost didn't enrol.

Elizabeth completed her undergraduate degree in Ghana, Africa. Seven years later, with an interest to studying aboard, she started researching Australian universities. She quickly discovered there was an under representation of African students across university websites. "There was not a single image of a black person on the UNSW website." Worried she would not fit in, she almost gave up the chance to study at UNSW.

"Ghana is an extremely homogenous country. I needed to know I would be safe and have a positive experience studying in Australia."

Elizabeth gained some confidence seeing students of different ethnicities online, even though she could not see herself. While studying Commerce, Economics and Finance, she has immersed herself in Australia’s multiculturalism; the foods, lifestyles and cultures that are part of mainstream society.

"I hope to inspire other Africans to study overseas and show the international community that Australia can be everyone's home away from home."

Rebecca Shuptrine Rebecca Shuptrine
Rebecca Shuptrine

Rebecca Shuptrine | UNSW staff I she / her

Society underestimates the valuable contribution and employability of people with disability.

Rebecca was reluctant to disclose her Multiple Sclerosis in previous workplaces. She feared that by disclosing her chronic illness, people would assume she was less capable than her colleagues. She refused to let her physical limitations define her.

"It's very important to be valued for my professional abilities and not be seen as my disability."

UNSW is the only workplace where she has openly disclosed her disability. Initially there were mixed reactions. While most of her colleagues were supportive, a few had concerns she would struggle to manage the workload. “There is an assumption that people with a disability will hinder workplace productivity or be a liability. Through the right support and work culture, people with disabilities can wholly contribute, and bring value to their role.

"It also reminds us how diverse the human condition really is."

As Program Manager for the Division of Equity Diversity & Inclusion, Rebecca is developing the Disability Inclusion Action Plan to ensure UNSW can offer a more accessible and inclusive environment for people with disabilities alongside other projects. "I love my job. I feel lucky to be paving the way for more positive experiences for students and staff including those with disability, and to ensure everyone is seen for who they truly are."

Close

Elakkiya Elakkiya
Elakkiya

Elakkiya Narayanasamy Ramaraja | UNSW student I she / her

It's our choice to succeed, mother can achieve their study goals.

Elakkiya was nervous when she decided to uproot her life, leaving India and her husband, to study a Master of Data Science at UNSW with their 20-month old daughter. Elakkiya was initially anxious by the unfamiliar surroundings and adjusting to Australian culture. Daily tasks such as buying groceries and being the sole carer for baby Deshna were daunting at first.

"I was scared, but I would often tell myself – this is my choice. I am here because this is what I want to do. I am doing this for me."

Despite the fears she once had, she has now settled into her life in Australia. She credits the adjustment to the support of staff and fellow students at UNSW. "My Professors understand that students may be parents, carers, with commitments outside of university.” Elakkiya was able to sit a 6pm exam at an earlier time, as it would have been impossible to find childcare for Deshna. Friends babysit her daughter during lectures, or when she needs to check up on an experiment. "Everyone on-campus knows Deshna."

Elakkiya believes the barriers in front of us can be knocked down and is passionate about women recognising their potential to achieve their goals.

"It's our choice to succeed. Being a mother is not a ‘no’ but rather a moment to think - how can I make this work for me? If I can juggle full-time studies, take care of my daughter and be away from family – anything is possible."

Jake Fing Jake Fing
Jake Fing

Jake Fing I UNSW student | he / him / his

My Aboriginal identity is often challenged by racial stereotyping.

Jake Fing is tired of the question, "How much Aboriginal are you?" While the question is usually born out of curiosity and not malice, it has discriminatory roots in racial profiling and institutionalised racism. Jake is the Indigenous Officer for the SRC Collective, a single parent and a final year Law/Arts student. Jake's Caucasian appearance means he is often asked to measure his Aboriginality in fractions, and this upsets him.

"In Aboriginal culture we don’t measure it. I am Aboriginal and that’s enough."

Jake has Indigenous heritage, was raised with First Nation values and has deep relationships with Aboriginal culture. "Nura Gili has had a positive impact on my experience at UNSW." He wants people to understand what you see on the surface, isn’t always reflective of the full person.

"I feel we need to see each other as complex, and uniquely different human beings – impossible to box or systematically categorise. We can be better humans to each other by being open, accepting and helping others understand our differences."

Tony Kage Tony Kage
Tony Kage

Tony Kage | UNSW student I he / him / his

We all have a unique story to share for anyone who is willing to listen.

Born to Vietnamese immigrants, Tony knows firsthand the importance of creating a sense of belonging and welcome for people from different cultural backgrounds. UNSW Masters student, Tony feels the diverse student community has enriched his learning experience, allowing him to appreciate different perspectives. "If someone disagrees with you, it doesn’t mean anyone is wrong, they simply view things from a different lens, and have different lived experiences."

"Keep an open mind and see what you can learn."

Tony advocates for empathy, understanding and respect. Tony says inclusivity is about embracing people for who they are and trying to be conscious of how your actions may impact the way someone else feels. His top tip? "If you happen to notice someone looking a little left out, try and make first contact and introduce yourself. We all have a unique story to share for anyone who is willing to listen."

Sara Talebloo Sara Talebloo
Sara Talebloo

Sara Talebloo I UNSW staff I she / her

Don't immediately assume someone's religion based on their ethnicity. It's time to start having elevated conversations with each other.

The daughter of a Muslim father and Baha’i mother, Sara and her siblings were raised in a harmonious, interfaith family. In her late teens, Sara decided to practice the Baha’i faith – a religion that focuses on the oneness of mankind, removal of all prejudices and equality between women and men.

Sara is a globetrotter who worked in the United Kingdom and Israel, before coming to Australia and working for UNSW in Estate Management. Coming to Australia, she realised many Australians had preconceived notions about the Middle East and do not realise the diverse range of people that live there.

"People often assume I am Muslim because my family are from Iran."

Yet, the Middle East is full of culture that dates to 3500BC and has a large Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian and Baha’i population. “Not everyone in the Middle East is Muslim.” This common assumption ignores that religious beliefs and practices – are not bound to the colour of our skin, or cultural heritage.

"I hope to give the wider community courage to ask, rather than assume someone’s religion, gender or sexuality based on the way we look."

Close

Resources

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