03 February 2021Share
As a Catholic university where all our endeavours are grounded in mission, ACU invites our staff and students to engage with the central values of the Christian Gospel, which are one and the same time universal human values. We do this not only by our words, but also by our actions.
One of the ways we realise our mission is through the pastoral care of our staff and students, no matter who they are. Through a theology of hospitality, we want to ensure all staff and students feel welcome, included and supported. This is an important endeavour to help us promote the dignity of each person and build the common good.
Pope Francis has often spoke about the urgent need to combat discrimination through inclusion in this way. He said in January 2018,“We need urgently to educate young generations to become actively involved in the struggle against hatred and discrimination, but also in the overcoming of conflicting positions in the past, and never to grow tired of seeking the other. Indeed, to prepare a truly human future, rejecting evil is not enough; we need to build the common good together.”
As an Australian university, we also have an ongoing responsibility to implement and adhere to the Higher Education Standards Framework (including the requirements for diversity and equity), as established under TEQSA, and endorsed by Universities Australia.
It is for this reason that, this year, the university will launch the ACU Ally Network as a reflection of our commitment to the pastoral care of staff and students who identify as LGBTIQ+. The foundational principles behind the ACU Ally Network are that it is an expression of the university’s mission to act in truth and love, enhancing human dignity and serving the common good.
To prepare for the launch of the network, over 30 staff were invited to take part in a pilot Ally training program in December of last year to equip them with the skills to provide help and support to our LGBTIQ+ students and staff. Developed in conjunction with staff from Identity and Mission, Human Resources, the Office of Student Success and representatives from ACU’s LGBTIQ+ community, the pilot is initially centred on our Melbourne Campus, with plans for a national roll-out in 2021.
Once staff have completed the training program, they will be invited to become members of the ACU Ally Network. Ally network members (Allies) are not necessarily experts on matters relating to sexual identity or gender but are understanding of the reasons why many LGBTIQ+ people are fearful of being harassed or discriminated against. A website is being developed that will enable staff and students to access information on where our Allies are based if they need to seek their assistance.
It is the university’s hope that the Ally Network at ACU becomes a visible network of staff who support our pastoral commitment to providing a safe, inclusive and respectful environment for people in our university community who identify as being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender diverse, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+).
If you would like more information about the program, please contact Robert Tonkli in the Office of the Vice President at email@example.com.