Profit-for-purpose community organisation YMCA NSW officially launched its LGBTI+ employee staff and advocacy group, the Affinity Network, in Sydney last night (Thursday 9 August).
Director, producer and presenter Patrick Abboud and LGBTI+ activist and Executive Director of change.org, Sally Rugg, were guest speakers at the event at Chippendale’s Twenty10. Also celebrating the launch were YMCA NSW Board members, senior executives and staff including Affinity Network members.
Founding member and YMCA NSW’s Youth Empowerment and Inclusion Coordinator Angus Lonergan said the Affinity Network’s purpose was to advocate for and facilitate a culture of inclusion and respect regardless of sexuality, gender and expression. He said the Affinity Network, the first of its kind for a YMCA in Australia, raised awareness of LGBTI+ people and issues to support the Y as a ‘safe place’.
“The Affinity Network is an employee support network about advocacy and education, however we want Affinity to mean something more than being just tick-box social group,” Mr Lonergan said. “We want it to be a group that provides development opportunities, support when times are tough, and spreads the mantra of empowerment through diversity and inclusion throughout our services.
“This network has the opportunity to mean so much to so many people, to be the difference between feeling safe at work, the difference between others looking to the Y as an employer of choice, the difference between forming exciting partnerships with like-minded organisations. We are at the start of our journey – we know it’s going to be an exciting one with many challenges.”
Mr Lonergan was earlier this year named the Out Role Model at the Australian LGBTI Inclusion Awards hosted by ACON’s Pride in Diversity – the national not-for-profit employer support program for LGBTI workplace inclusion.
Speaking on behalf of the organisation at the launch, YMCA NSW Interim CEO Lisa Giacomelli said: “Globally, nationally and on a community level, since our inception in 1844 the YMCA has always been a place for people to belong. We are deeply committed to these ideals because it is morally right to do so and because we see the incredible value diversity brings; its strength and beauty.
“The Affinity Network is part of our long-term strategy to promote inclusivity and diversity in our organisation and in all the communities we serve and to celebrate the benefits diversity brings. I’m very proud that we are taking this step as an organisation and congratulate the founding members of the Affinity Network for their exceptional work to bring this into being.”
The YMCA is a strong advocate for LGBTI+ Australians, last year launching the #whynot campaign in support of marriage equality that featured global superstar Boy George covering the pop classic ‘YMCA’. YMCA NSW also participated in the 2018 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Fair Day.
For images from the launch and to arrange interviews with Angus Lonergan and/or fellow Affinity Network members Alisa Wells and Bryan Jader, contact:
Youth Empowerment & Inclusion Coordinator | YMCA NSW
Marketing Specialist | YMCA NSW
NSW Fitness Manager | YMCA NSW
Communications Manager | YMCA NSW
About YMCA NSW
YMCA NSW is a profit-for-purpose organisation focused on healthy living, social impact and empowering young people. We operate 22 recreation centres, 63 Out of School Hours Care services and two camping locations which fund our diverse range of community programs. We’ve been creating positive change and supporting communities for more than 165 years. Visit www.ymcansw.org.au