17 May 2022
Meet Amy, who co-leads our Jasper LGBT+ ally inclusion group for BHP Nickel West in Western Australia. She’s a Project Specialist for the Leinster Underground Mining team.
As part of our focus for IDAHOBIT 2022, we caught up with Amy about her journey, the role of Jasper, and how people can learn more.
Can you tell me a little about what you do at BHP Nickel West?
I started my career at Leinster Underground Mine as a physiotherapist, which was a great start here. I managed a targeted injury reduction project for our new-to-industry nippers in the underground – seeing how we can make their job safer. This program just got bigger and bigger, progressing to service crews, jumbo operators and truck operators. It was very successful and a project I’m super proud of.
Now I’m working in a team on another big project, which is installing new ablution facilities in the underground for men and women – including an all-gender cubicle. The Jasper committee has also given some advice on a 20-person capacity all-gender, all-inclusive change room. That’s a big deal and I think a great way to demonstrate how inclusive we can be in the mining industry.
Why is Jasper important?
I remember one time working as a physio at Leinster mine, and my patient was very reserved. I was wearing my rainbow shoelaces and when they saw my laces they immediately opened up to me and were able to talk and be themselves. A few months later they told me their story. Because of my laces, they’d felt comfortable with me and knew I was an ally and that they were safe in my company. I realised the importance of that visibility.
I thought it was important to be representing the LGBTQI+ community here. For myself as a gay cis woman, I feel it’s important for people to be able to bring their authentic selves to work, and really show that we are an inclusive and supportive company.
Have there been times when you felt that wasn’t possible?
I identify as a gay cis woman and my pronouns are she/her. I came out relatively late. I was 27 and it was a mix of emotions but ultimately it was a positive experience, which is not the case for everyone. Everyone’s journey is very different. There’s no wrong or right way to come out and people need to do it in their own time, when they are ready and when it is safe for them to do so.
There have been challenges as a female, and as being gay, separately and together, over the years in the mining industry. One year I was handing out rainbow cupcakes for Pride Week, and someone was quite abrupt. If they were still here, I think I’d now have the confidence, the tools, and the language to respond.
How does is affect you if you can’t show who you are at work?
It’s different for everyone but it feels like you’re constantly hiding something. You are always on your back foot. There’s a fake façade. It’s exhausting, and you’re scared you’re going to slip up. If you can be yourself, then that’s one less thing to worry about. We need to create a safe space for people.
Do you feel like times are changing?
We’ve such good support from our leaders! They know how important culture and respectful behaviour is and to bring that positivity to work. We’re at the start of the journey. We have a way to go and there are challenges. But there’s a lot of hope for creating a workplace where LGBT+ people feel safe at work.
What do I need to do to make sure people know that I’m an ally and that work is a safe space?
I would say there’s three key things you can do:
- Be informed: Talk to LGTBQ friends, family or colleagues, read LGBTQ related publications, social media and videos.
- Be visible: Promote yourself as an ally, wear a pin, share your story of why you’re an ally, and celebrate days of significance like IDAHOBIT Day.
- Be part of the solution: Talk about and share your pronouns, advocate and use inclusive language, and take a stand against homophobic, biphobic or transphobic slurs, jokes or negative comments.
Thank you Amy, for sharing your experiences today. We want everyone to be able to feel safe to bring their whole selves to work and realise their full potential – and that’s why it’s important we recognise days like IDAHOBIT and stand against fear or misunderstandings of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex LGBT+ team members.
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