Diversity & Inclusion: Jeremy Neideck and Morwenna Collett Platform Paper Launch
Diversity & Inclusion: Building the Good Life in Australia
Australia could be a more resilient and dynamic country if only we could overcome our fear of ambiguity and diversity, according to two passionate advocates writing a timely new double issue of Currency House’s New Platform Papers.
Queer(y)ing the Australian Way of Life by theatre-maker Jeremy Neideck, and More Risk, More Play: Creating an Inclusive Culture by senior arts consultant Morwenna Collett, both explore the imaginative work and practice which needs to be done in our arts and culture if Australia is to become a fully inclusive nation, celebrating difference as a strength not a weakness.
“The stark reality is that those who live at the intersection of Indigeneity and queerness here in Australia have never been afforded the things that the cis-straight white fantasy lives in terror of losing: loss of status and wealth, loss of opportunity and respectability. Does this make us others any less Australian?,” says Neideck, also a teacher at WAAPA in Perth.
“Diversity is broader than racer and gender,” Collett argues. “Embracing difference ensures we empower all our citizens to their full potential,”
A former CEO of Accessible Arts, Collett now advises dozens of Australia’s arts organisations and festivals (and Sydney World Pride 2023) on ways to engage with disabled and diverse people – and support their artists. Beginning as a young musician living with disability, she is on a mission to see disability become just another dimension of diversity in creating an inclusive culture.
“Some of the most exciting, risk-taking work is made by disabled artists, but they are being let down by accessibility policies which don’t look beyond the audience,” she says. “Arts organisations know about having a ramp or a lift: but what about the performers?”
Neideck, a Queenslander like Collett, grew up “closeted, regional and deeply Pentecostal”, and was starved of seeing queer representations, like the three queer theatre-makers he observes.
“Australia is a work-in-progress but also a country steeped in mythologies,” he says. “But I think we have a chance of breaking the shackles of the cis-straight fantasy if we pay keen attention to those of us devoting their lives to the project of nationhood as creative practice.”
“There is liberation to be found in queerer ways of being, knowing, understanding and animating the world.”