Across Australia, Scouts have been celebrating and promoting the diverse and inclusive nature of our movement by participating in community events such as the Sydney Mardi Gras.
The first weekend in March was brimming with Scouting activities, but one event took pride of place in the heart of Sydney on Saturday night.
With a 2019 theme of “fearless,” the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade attracted half a million spectators to enjoy the celebration of LGBTIQA+ people and their communities. Scouts from around Australia once again took part, joined for the first time by Girl Guides NSW & ACT, marching under the banner of “facing challenges with courage”. The Sydney Mardi Gras joins the lineup of other community led events celebrating diversity and inclusion, with Scouts also participating in similar events in Western Australia, Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory over recent years.
Ayla Jones, the passionate and energetic organiser for Scouts, explained: “With a focus on the outdoors and leadership development, Scouts and Guides build confidence for young people to face challenges with courage. We want all young people to be who they are, fearlessly.”
One in every 10 Australians identifies with a diverse sexuality, sex or gender identity according to the Australian Human Rights Commission, with higher proportions in younger age groups.
Aaron Newton was one of the Scouts who joined the parade. He explained, “As the largest youth led organisations in Australia, Scouts and Guides should be involved in Mardi Gras as we bridge the gap between generations. We help youth and adults work together, learn the value of achieving a common goal, listen to others’ opinions and share Scouting knowledge and skills.”
The Mardi Gras organising team invited the Scouts & Guides to march near the start of the parade. The proud group received rapturous applause from the onlookers for their decorated float, showing off Outdoor Adventure Skills including abseiling, canoeing, cycling, skiing, snorkelling and camping, topped off by a smoking campfire!
The New Youth Program was on full display to millions of Australians via the SBS livestream and event broadcast. Youth members from all sections Participated in, Assisted and Led the entry across the Challenge Areas, with Creative (choreography and float design), Community (Girl Guides and Mardi Gras links), Outdoor (vertical rigging on the float) and Personal Growth (trying new things and pride in their identity) all featured. What a great way to be fun, challenging, adventurous and inclusive all at once!
Scouts Australia is fully committed to diversity and inclusion, developing citizenship in young people from all walks of life. Scouts are respectful, inclusive and caring, and ensuring we remain relevant for a changing community means making major strides to ensure all our young people stay safe and welcomed.
Monica Gonzales, a Rover participant in the parade, agreed, “I think there’s always more progress to be made in Australia to ensure our diversity is celebrated. I’m fortunate enough to have grown up surrounded by a very open-minded family and friends, particularly through Scouting, and that’s helped shape my confidence and sense of self. I think it’s a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate how Scouting provides an inclusive and empowering environment for all young Australians. I’m proud to be who I am and I’m proud to be a Scout.”
If you’re interested in participating in the 2020 Sydney Mardi Gras, complete the expression of interest form.