One of the great things about working for Telstra is the opportunity to make a real difference in the community. I’m feeling especially proud of the role we’ve just played as the technology partner to Midsumma, Australia’s premiere queer arts and culture festival, held in Melbourne each year.

While I’ve enjoyed Midsumma before, this year was different. I am part of Telstra’s Diversity and Inclusion team, and worked closely with the organisers in the lead up the lead up to the festival. And I also jumped at the opportunity to be a Telstra Citizen Reporter, a voluntary role which saw me attending events throughout the three-week festival, sharing the Midsumma experience through my own social media accounts.

There was a lot to share. The three-week festival included some truly awe-inspiring events this year. Besides Carnival Day and Pride March, there was a wide array of shows to see – theatre, musical theatre, stand up, cabaret, art exhibitions. Midsumma truly caters to the wider LGBT+ community, and personally, I loved their stronger focus on the Indigenous LGBT+ community this year.

I was one of six Telstra Citizen Reporters in 2018. As we return to normal life this week, I’ve asked some of them to share a little of their Midsumma experiences this year.

Elana Monteleone is a sub-editor and copywriter in Telstra’s Knowledge Team, and a TV binge-watching, taekwondo enthusiast.

She keeps coming back to Midsumma as a Telstra Citizen Reporter for the variety of events and the welcoming people who attend them – even in heatwave conditions.

“Despite the blistering heat, this year’s Pride March had a more celebratory feel. With the Marriage Bill finally amended, participants and spectators took the opportunity to relish in the win. The determination now shifts to other matters, as there is still so much to work to do beyond the yes vote.”

Stephanie Dickson has been attending Midsumma since she was a child. Now an Executive Assistant, Consumer & Small Business, with three very different degrees to her name, she was delighted to share her ongoing enthusiasm for the festival.

“I felt more connected being a Telstra Citizen Reporter but I also think there was more awareness this year about the other events. Previously, people have been very focused on Carnival and Pride but I think there was more talk of the other events this year which is great.”

Another long-term Midsumma participant, Adam Sparnon is a Customer Experience Program Specialist by day and a sci-fi enthusiast and coach away from work. He found this year’s involvement of a wide variety of people from diverse backgrounds particularly inspiring.

“My greatest impression of Midsumma this year was the friendly, inclusive social nature of people attending events across the festival period. I’ve found the events both fun and at times deeply insightful.

“And I felt a sense of pride to be representing an organisation which visibly supports diversity and inclusion by actively participating in Midsumma.”

Pride in Telstra’s support for Midsumma is a common thread in all of our experience over the three weeks of the festival.

“It’s heartening to know that Telstra actively shows support for the LGBT+ community by partnering with Midsumma. Many can say they value and strive for diversity and inclusion, but actions speak louder than words,” said Elana.

I’ll let Sophie Stewart from our Copper Continuity Process Support team have the last word.

“As I’ve just recently moved here, this was my first ever experience with Midsumma and it has easily been my favourite thing about Melbourne so far. I was overwhelmed by the audiences at every event that I went to; it was such a breath of fresh air to be a part of a community who wants to support one another and support the parts of the community that deserve our support and understanding.

“Knowing that the company I work for played a part in sponsoring this festival filled me with great pride. I believe all people should be supportive of diversity and inclusion and I love knowing that my workplace is one of the ones leading the way. I was so grateful to Midsumma for giving me the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the lived experiences of people who identify as LGBT+.”

Midsumma is Australia’s premiere queer arts and culture festival, held in Melbourne each year. We have proudly partnered with Midsumma since 2011. We see the connection of queer culture and what we do as a company that connects people to the things they love as a natural partnership and as important in championing an inclusive culture for our people. This is at the heart of why we proudly show up each year at Midsumma.

As technology partner, we are proud to provide phone and internet services to the Midsumma team, enabling them to be brilliantly connected. Our volunteer social media reporters attend Midsumma events and promote through their social media accounts, encouraging others to attend the variety of events on offer.