Inclusion Flag by Alejandro Lauren
Created by artist Wayde Clark, known as Alejandro Lauren, a Wiradjuri and Birpai man and member of the LGBTQIA+ community, the artwork of the Inclusion Flag is comprised of journey lines and meeting places which symbolise the inclusion of everyone and the importance of recognition. 

Meeting the needs of our participants

Our commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The Rotary Youth Leadership Award program in Rotary International district 9700 embraces Rotary’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and celebrates the culture, knowledge and experiences of First Nations Peoples. We are committed to creating and maintaining an environment that empowers all our participants to feel valued, respected and culturally strong.

RYLA has measures in place to ensure we acknowledge and appreciates the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and meet the needs of any participant attending our program.

Note: Throughout this page the term Koorie is used to refer to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Participants’ perspectives and feedback

We actively seek participation and feedback from participants by:

  • acknowledging the diverse needs of our participants and seeking their feedback on decisions that affect them, and on how well we are meeting their needs, through discussions before they attend RYLA, in checking-in during daily Yarning Circles, and through interaction with the supporter team
  • partnering with the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation to seek feedback and advice on existing and new actions we can take to support the diverse and unique identities and experiences of Aboriginal participants
  • partnering with the Rotary LGBT+ Fellowship to seek feedback and advice on measures to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, intersex, queer, questioning and asexual people
  • completing daily, confidential check-in surveys to ensure we can quickly respond to any feedback from our participants and continuously improve our program.

Training and professional development of staff

To ensure our support team and committee have the skills and knowledge necessary to create and maintain a positive and inclusive environment we:

  • provide tailored training and professional development each year to build knowledge based on any emerging or current areas of need
  • ensure training and professional development equips our support team with an understanding and appreciation of the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and its importance to the wellbeing and safety of Koorie participants
  • ensure the team has an appropriate level of Mental Health First Aid training, or similar, to help participants developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis.

RYLA programming

We ensure our programming can meet the needs of any participant by:

  • acknowledging the Country and Traditional Owners of the land on which our program is delivered, the Dja Dja Wurrung people, at the beginning of the program, at the Rotary dinner and at the beginning of the closing presentation ceremony
  • arranging Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony by local Elders at the beginning of the program
  • ensuring appropriate daily reflection time to understand the meaning of the program’s content
  • appropriate movement time during more sedentary sessions
  • encouraging our participants, and speakers, to introduce themselves and explain how they would like to be addressed, including pronouns and calling others by their preferred name, rather than using a nickname that is easier to pronounce
  • using gender neutral words to avoid gender assumption
  • throughout the program, use active listening to deepen understanding of others
  • avoiding slang or idioms that do not translate across cultures or be deliberate in explaining them to share our diverse cultures and languages
  • encourage curiosity about others’ cultural backgrounds, faith, sexual orientation, gender, or another characteristic, but ensuring our participants to ask if they are open to sharing more about themselves and to refrain from asking if the topic is not relevant to the conversation
  • being an ally and advocate for others and being ready to intervene when one sees a need
  • encouraging everyone to address inappropriate behaviour in a way to offer support to those affected.

Built and digital environment

We ensure our built environment and website demonstrates an appreciation and acknowledgment of diversity, equity, and inclusion through:

  • flying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags
  • displaying plaques/signs outside our main entrance that Acknowledge Country and Traditional Owners
  • including an Acknowledgement of Country and Traditional Owners and our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion on our website home page
  • provision of fidget and sensory objects for participants that need them to focus and/or alleviate anxiety, frustration, and agitation
  • availability of all gender bathroom and bedrooms for transgender, gender diverse and gender non-conforming participants, in line with the Rotary LGBT+ Fellowship’s guide on Supporting transgender and gender non-conforming participants at residential programs
  • we are aware of and ask about people’s dietary and health restrictions
  • ensuring all our forms are inclusive of everyone by ensuring inclusive gender options, asking for pronouns and accessibility to screen-readers
  • when selecting a venue, making sure that all areas and all elements of the program are accessable to all participants.

Community feedback

We recognise that our practices must be regularly reviewed and updated in partnership with our participants, Rotary Clubs, and the broader community. We encourage you to contact us using the form below with any feedback, concerns, or suggestions.

We welcome your