CPSU welcomes lifting of ban on events promoting diversity and inclusion in Defence

The union representing federal public servants, the Community and Public Sector Union, welcomes the announcement that the new Minister for Defence, Richard Marles, has overturned the ban on Defence Department workplace events promoting diversity and inclusion.

CPSU members in Defence have campaigned against the ban since it was imposed by former Minister, and now opposition leader, Peter Dutton, in May 2021.

Then-Minister Dutton intervened to ban Defence staff and serving military personnel from participating in “events such as morning teas where personnel are encouraged to wear particular clothes in celebration”.

At the time, CPSU members spoke out about the negative impact the then Minister’s intervention had on staff morale, particularly members of the LGBTI+ community, as it followed workplace morning teas to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

Former Minister Dutton’s declaration, when announcing the ban, that the Department would not be “pursuing a woke agenda”, led to a ridiculous situation where managers questioned what was and what wasn’t “woke” and therefore banned.

Debate about whether the ban would apply to events to mark Reconciliation Week, R U OK Day and International Women’s Day flew in the face of the Department’s longstanding staffing policies that promote the benefits of diversity and an inclusive workplace culture.

Minister Marles’s reversal of the ban means Defence employees and service personnel are now able to go ahead with plans to “Wear it Purple” this Friday, 26 August in support of the annual day aimed at fostering supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environments for LGBTI+ young people.

Quotes attributable to CPSU Deputy President Brooke Muscat:

“CPSU members in the Defence Department are pleased to once again be able to participate in activities that demonstrate their solidarity and support for diversity and inclusion.

“Workplace activities and events that bring people together to acknowledge the diversity of their experiences and lives, help to build a strong and supportive workplace culture.

“The former Minister’s extraordinary intervention was an uncalled-for overreach and flew in the face of the Department’s policies to encourage diversity in its workforce.

“CPSU members bravely spoke out against Minister Dutton’s ban in 2021 and have continued to work to demonstrate their support for diversity and inclusion while campaigning for the ban to be lifted.

“Members are pleased that their new Minister has now acknowledged their concerns by dropping the ban and that they can now get back to promoting the overwhelming benefits of workplaces that celebrate diversity and encourage inclusivity.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Liz Bower 0408 405 121