Providing professional diversity and inclusion training, podcast production and opportunities for on-air sponsorship, Australia’s LGBTQIA+ community broadcaster JOY Media is working towards a more inclusive Australia. As part of the organisation’s remit, JOY Media works directly with councils around Australia to support constituents, team members, and stakeholders to be more inclusive. 

JOY Media is Australia’s only not-for-profit rainbow community media organisation. With a growing team that spans the full spectrum of the diverse LGBTQIA+ rainbow, JOY has the lived experience of both the challenges and beauty encompassing rainbow communities. 

When JOY launched in 1993, its original purpose was to bring together a devastated and isolated gay community ravaged by the AIDS crisis. JOY has since evolved to inform, entertain, and empower LGBTQIA+ communities and allies across Australia and the world, with the sole purpose of building a more inclusive Australia. 

Now powered by more than 160 volunteers and led by a small leadership team, JOY’s presenters, producers, newsreaders, creators and curators deliver quality community media, every hour, every day of the year. This charitable work keeps listeners connected, and allows the community to learn from each other and provides a voice to those often missed on an increasingly chaotic world stage. 

Social procurement has become increasingly popular amongst councils seeking to generate added value to society through their purchase strategies, which is certainly an outcome of working with JOY. Providing professional services that include diversity and inclusion training, podcast production, on-air sponsorship and technical services has allowed JOY to use its experience and excellence to support the important work of public institutions like the Arts Centre Melbourne, services like Matchworks Employment’s Job Fair, and governments at all levels including Bayside City Council, City of Port Phillip, City of Yarra, Brimbank City Council, Hobsons Bay City Council, Maribyrnong City Council and the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.

Seeking to help build a more inclusive Australia on a practical level, while working to ensure its own sustainability into the future, JOY Media has begun offering LGBTQIA+ focused diversity and inclusion training to council groups, businesses, and community organisations. This work, and the direct positive effect it has on those who take part, flows directly from the participants to their community.

With many councils making conscious efforts to work towards inclusivity, partnering with JOY Media and learning from their deep connection to the LGBTQIA+ community can be a powerful way to effect positive change. 

Awareness days like IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersex Discrimination, and Transphobia) in May, Wear it Purple Day in August, and November’s Trans Awareness Week and Trans Day of Remembrance have become vital touchpoints for councils to show LGBTQIA+ residents are welcome in their community, and are perfect opportunities to engage JOY Media to facilitate training.

“We know that councils want to be ready in advance of those prominent awareness days,” says trainer and JOY broadcaster Triana Butler. A proud trans woman, Triana has trained many of JOY’s clients, sharing her own life experience to illustrate some of the challenges trans and gender diverse people face. 

“Some councils are developing their toolkit, or seeing where they could improve their processes or work better with employees, but oftentimes they come in already making strides in inclusion for their community and want a refresher, or have one or two really burning questions they want to explore.”

Fiona Newton, head of JOY’s education and training social enterprise JOY Academy, designed the program to be customisable for groups of all sizes and types. “The training services we offer can be adapted to suit any need,” she said. “We’ve run sessions with council executive teams, as well as teams in public-facing positions where they interact with constituents on a daily basis, like library staff and maintenance teams.

“We were engaged by one particular local council in 2023 who wanted to enhance their leaders’ capabilities in promoting LGBTQIA+ initiatives, and we ran a series of training workshops for them and their senior executive team,” she said. “The feedback we received from them after the sessions was overwhelmingly positive; they found the way we delivered the sessions to be very engaging and approachable, and commented on how well received the sessions were by their team.”

Studies continue to show that diverse workplaces are more innovative, approach challenges from different perspectives, think more creatively, make better decisions and are more productive and happy. Teams wanting to excel benefit from hiring and retaining diverse teams. Breaking down unconscious biases goes a long way to ensuring workplaces continue to innovate.

While the term “safe space” might be a term you’ve heard, the trainers in JOY Media’s D&I training sessions seek to go one better. “With these sessions, we want to create a brave space,” said Ms Butler. “A space where people feel brave enough to share of their own lives, and be brave enough to say ‘I don’t know anything about this, but I want to know more so I can get it right.’”

With the increasing hostility of social media bringing criticism of organisations into the public sphere, organisations are increasingly worried about being “cancelled” or needing damage control. Being aware of the issues facing LGBTQIA+ people and common misconceptions about the community can be important to mitigate risk.

JOY’s diversity and inclusion training is run by trainers with lived experience; each session is led by a person with sexual diversity, and another with gender diversity.

“We made a deliberate choice to ensure that members of our communities lead the training, because they can answer questions for participants confidently and from personal experience,” explained Ms Newton. “Often, what holds back people from learning more about our communities is that they haven’t met anyone from the community yet, or they don’t feel comfortable asking their question of the people in their life because it feels too personal, or because they don’t want to ask the ‘wrong’ thing. We make space for those tricky questions, while ensuring that anyone in the room who might be LGBTQIA+ doesn’t feel unsafe.”

Diversity and inclusion training is just one way that JOY is able to serve local councils, businesses, and organisations. JOY’s podcast production service can be another effective, engaging and personal way to keep constituents feeling connected to council.

“That’s the magic of podcasts,” shares JOY’s Production Coordinator, Elliot Attard. “When someone taps into a podcast, they are there to listen to what you have to say, and when you do it right, it feels like you’re speaking with the listener one-to-one, like a phone call, or sharing a cup of coffee together.”

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