LGBTI students in Queensland will be able to take part in an innovative new program that will pair them up with mentors.

The program, the Queensland Universities Diversity Network, is the first of its kind in Queensland. It offers free mentoring, networking opportunities, leadership forums, workshops and online seminars for young LGBTI professionals in a wide variety of industries like engineering, medicine, education and law.

Developed by Out for Australia (OFA), the program will aid LGBTI students to gain meaningful employment in workplaces that promote diversity and inclusion. It will also increase regional engagement.

Seven of Queensland’s nine universities have joined the network, and committed to helping LGBTI students navigate their way through the early stages of their career. Similar networks have already been established in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.

As part of the program, students will be paired up with a mentor who is working full time in a similar industry.

The mentors will help explain career opportunities and pathways to full-time work, as well as discuss LGBTI-specific issues, like whether specific employers are inclusive and the best way to come out at work.

Out for Australia’s Queensland director Luke Furness said the new program is about diversity for regional areas.

“Queensland is not Brisbane. We have LGBTIQ students and communities all over Queensland and success cannot be achieved through a Diverse Brisbane, but a diverse Queensland,” he said.

The network extends into Queensland’s regional centres of Townsville, Bundaberg, Cairns, Rockhampton and Toowoomba.

Network co-chair Kathryn Cramp said they want to ensure people don’t feel the need to go back into the closet when they enter the workforce.

“We work with students to build their confidence and establish organisational networks to avoid disadvantage,” she said.

“We want all queer students to reach their full potential and not feel they need to hide.

The network is sponsored by Queensland-based rail freight company Aurizon, which has its own internal LGBTI inclusion program called the ‘ALLin’ Network.

Aurizon ‘ALLin’ Network’s chairperson Rhiannon Kop said the company is serious about safety and diversity.

“Now, for the first time, corporate Australia is beginning to see that the two are inseparable,” she said.

The Queensland Universities Diversity Network will be holding forums in key regional areas across Queensland.

The next forum on university inclusion is at Griffith University Gold Coast campus on Wednesday, April 27. The event is open to network leaders and the community and free tickets can be found here on Eventbrite.

Anyone is welcome to network at general events announced on the Out for Australia newsletter.

If you’d like to know how your university or workplace can be involved in the network, contact the Queensland Outreach team.

Click here for student or mentor applications,  thewebsite or email Mr Furness on qld@outforaustralia.org.

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