The first LGBTIQ+ winner of a $1000 part-scholarship to complete a Diploma of Governance wants to use the opportunity to boost inclusion for LGBTIQ+ people.
Mx Lena Van Hale, 28, was chosen for one of the fast-tracked LGBTIQ+ scholarships offered by the Institute of Community Directors Australia, with the award announced during Festival of Community Directors’ LGBTIQ+ Inclusion Week.
Rolling scholarships across 11 sub-sectors of the not-for-profit world were opened earlier this month, with the fast-tracked approvals ensuring applicants discover if they have secured a coveted place within just 10 days.
Lena hopes to use the scholarship to inspire other non-binary transgender people to follow in their footsteps, to improve access and social inclusion, and to reduce barriers to participating in society
They are the manager of Magenta, a Perth-based organisation offering support, health services, education and information to Western Australian sex workers.
And, they chair Living Proud, an LGBTIQ+ support charity in the same state.
Lena is a non-binary transgender person who works with mainstream communities to educate and provide support around diversity and policy.
That support has been informed through experiencing homelessness, sex work and discrimination.
And as an experienced trailblazer for LGBTIQ+ inclusion, Lena said, "as diverse people, our expertise is devalued, and we face stigma in our day-to-day lives.”
“However, that means that it falls on us to drive this change, and that systemic change can only be driven when diverse people are organised, are encouraged and supported to take leadership roles, and are given the tools to succeed in driving future change."
"The diploma will give me not only vital skills and information for my work in community board and management roles, but also expose me significantly to systems of governance which I have only become recently attached to. My wish is that the course will springboard me into higher level understanding of my roles and responsibilities and begin to equip me with the tools I need to keep learning more, to propel my organisation into a better phase of governance."
Despite their relative youth, Lena also hopes the training will improve their ability to prevent LGBTIQ+ advocates from being silenced, but instead be respected.
Our Community’s partnerships director Sarah Richardson, who is coordinating the scholarships program, said she welcomed Lena to the ICDA family.
“Lena is one to watch and we are confident they'll make a bigger mark in their chosen field as a result of their studies - both in the organisations they represent, and through a career in a sector they truly care about.”