My first Social Inclusion Forum
In honour of our first upcoming Social Inclusion Forum of 2021, sharing about their first experience of the Forum is our new staff member Laura Bullock.
Set in the picturesque location of the Coogee Lifesaving Club, cool saltwater breeze wafting and golden sun setting, I rocked up to my first Social Inclusion Forum, December 2020, as a brand new team member at Inclusion Solutions. I’d just landed the role of Inclusion Consultant, and was hyping myself up to meet my new teammates and see what the Forum was all about.
Little did I know that in the coming months, I would be picking up the mantle of organising the Forums over the next two years!
The process couldn’t have been smoother. In line with the new COVID restrictions, the whole Inclusion Solutions team attended the event to help out, checking in and welcoming guests the whole way. With my e-ticket from my email up on my phone, I showed it to the registration desk, signed the COVID register, and walked away with a name badge. Too easy! The crowds were already bustling, tea and coffee brewing, and conversation buzzing. I had a bunch of questions, and was blown away by how welcoming, professional, understanding, and friendly the staff were.
I was able to choose a table in the front where I could hear and see clearly, befriending the lovely people at my table. In the incredibly engaging presentations by the guest presenters, I had the choice and control of whether or not I wanted to engage in any activities or group conversations where I might not be able to hear. With so many practical tips being shared, radically transformative ideas about how to care for your own neighbourhood community in COVID times, how to make your content accessible for people with disabilities, and so much more, not only did I walk away feeling like I’d just come out of a TED talk – I was equipped with new skills to put these ideas into action in my own advocacy space!
What stood out the most to me, was the immense diversity; of speakers, of topics, and of attendees. As someone who is from the Deaf and Disabled community, and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I’m used to being the outlier. It’s not often I get to make eye contact with another “outlier”, and feel as seen, appreciated, and welcomed as I did at my first Social Inclusion Forum! When I’m not the only member of a marginalised community at an event, I know we are really starting to get somewhere with our social inclusion message.
Now, as the project lead for the Social Inclusion Forums, I can only hope that’s the way I make everyone else feel at my events. For all of this in a ticket that is less than $25, I can’t think of any reason not to at least give the Forum a try.
I couldn’t be more excited to meet the reader at our next Forum – you can keep up to date for upcoming events here on our Events page. See you there!