We hope you are well and that you are still relishing some very special memories from the 2023 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’ Festival and Sydney WorldPride seasons. It has been a truly epic way to celebrate 45 years of Sydney Mardi Gras.
We want to thank both the SGLMG and SWP teams for successfully delivering the combined seasons and for the collaboration across various areas that ensured a seamless experience for all. We want to particularly acknowledge the 2,200 individual Mardi Gras volunteers without whom the two festivals couldn’t have been as welcoming and successful.
We also want to thank the Board of SWP for the professionalism, expertise and good heart in embracing and helping us deliver this project. And our government champions, our sponsors and all of our other partners, for their incredible support. We look forward to continuing working with you as Mardi Gras is here to stay.
Finally, we want to express our gratitude to the InterPride global family for entrusting SGLMG in 2019 with the rights to WorldPride. Our strategic approach of setting up a separate SWP organisation to allow for a high-risk appetite while protecting SGLMG’s sustainability has truly paid off. While SWP quickly progresses through its dissolution, the two teams are working closely to ensure the transfer of knowledge, information and stakeholders to ensure that SGLMG can fully embrace the legacy being left by the WorldPride experience, including the collaboration with our First Nations communities.
Our Board is already empowering our CEO and Staff with the additional resources required to plan and deliver our Always On strategy while assessing which events and findings from SWP can be incorporated into our 2024 season. We truly have a team of skilled and special human beings to work with. We look forward to supporting the sustainable growth of the organisation while focusing on improved governance, engagement and social impact.
As always, our work doesn’t stop at the end of the festival; and the Board and our Committees have been progressing with important activities, some coming up in the next couple of months:
- working with the CEO and senior staff to begin a review of our current 3-year Strategic Plan,
- a Town Hall in July to provide a forum for our members to discuss topics that don’t need to wait for the AGM,
- an EGM in August to consider limited changes to our current Constitution (legislative requirements and obsolete entries),
- supporting Staff in progressing work on the outcomes from last year’s independent report into the conduct of volunteers and members, which include reviews of existing policies and development of new ones to improve the governance, policy, discipline and culture of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. We want to ensure that our organisation is a welcoming and safe place for all where we can all be heard while respecting and caring for others.
Finally we want to thank you for your support, and trust and for keeping us respectfully accountable. If you have any questions or input regarding the above, please email email@example.com which will distribute to the team as required.
Looking forward to celebrating June’s Pride Month with you soon.
The Board of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
We are very excited to announce that the Director position left vacant by Wei Thai-Haynes was filled last month, by EOI as per Constitution, with the appointment of Corey Trembath. A proud transgender Koori man with over 15 years experience in Governance, Risk and Compliance in the ICT industry and 10 years working in community and advocacy in a range of different LGBTIQ+ organisations. For more details please check the Board webpage here.
On the other end, we are very sad to bid goodbye to director Jan Hutton, who resigned due to increasing demands on her CEO role at the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) as the industry recovers from the pandemic impact. In her two years on the Board, Jan has been a much-loved colleague who has made a valuable contribution to our strategy and governance, with a genuine commitment to our community. The vacant position will be soon advertised to the wider mailing list by EOI, as per Constitution.
It would also be remiss of us not to have an overdue acknowledgment of the two outgoing directors at the last AGM. A big thank you to former Co-Chair Jesse Matheson for his six years on the Board and for being instrumental in the governance growth of the organisation; and who has operated with integrity and the interests of Mardi Gras at heart. Jesse is still contributing to the team as one of the three Mardi Gras representatives on the Board of Sydney WorldPride. Also, a thank you to Alex Bouchet-Carr that in his two-year tenure brought to the Board a different grass-roots perspective in a smart and collaborative way that contributed really valuable input to our work. Good to still have you in the Mardi Gras family.
Finally, we bid farewell to our Company Secretary, Charmaine Belfanti, who will soon move on to new projects after four years at Mardi Gras. A governance specialist, with her extensive experience in the not-for-profit and government sectors Charmaine has truly made a transforming contribution to the Company’s governance processes and systems, to align with the level of professionalism required by the growth of the last few years. Passionate and a source of valuable advice, Charmaine has indeed made a mark in our organisation. Recruitment for a professional Company Secretary will commence shortly.
Until recently, SGLMG currently has had two categories of lifetime awards: the Hall of Fame which was awarded by the original Mardi Gras until winding up in 2002, and the Lifetime Achievement which was introduced thereafter by the newly established New Mardi Gras. The two awards recognise some of the individuals who had a significant impact on the organisation and the Mardi Gras family.
Until recently, SGLMG currently has had two categories of lifetime awards: the Hall of Fame which was awarded by the original Mardi Gras until winding up in 2002, and the Lifetime Achievement which was introduced thereafter by the newly established New Mardi Gras. The two awards recognise some of the individuals who had a significant impact on the organisation and the Mardi Gras family,
After consulting with the two groups, and as announced at the last AGM, going forward Mardi Gras will combine the new set of recipients into a Hall of Fame Award, which will recognise individuals who have a transformative impact on our organisation.
The last recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award was announced at the Mardi Gras Community Awards in April. Paul Savage was bestowed with the award for his wide-ranging contribution to Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and the wider queer community. As Co-chair of SGLMG from 2013 to 2015, he reinvigorated Mardi Gras’ focus on social justice, inclusion and diversity. Most noticeably, Paul is the visionary key figure who started and progressed the work to bring to Sydney the first WorldPride event ever held in the Southern Hemisphere.
As we are working on updating the nomination process in readiness for submissions in the last quarter of the year, the Board accepted a recommendation to already award the Hall of Fame to two special individuals as 2023 is also the 20th anniversary of the first Mardi Gras season of the New Mardi Gras. These recipients are Stevie Clayton and Michael Woodhouse, who were the first co-chairs of New Mardi Gras and without whom and their incredible work and advocacy the rebirth of our Organisation would simply not have happened.
Congratulations Michael, Paul and Stevie, and a big thank you from us all. You can find out more about Hall of Fame here.
At the 2022 Annual General Meeting (AGM), held last November, a number of questions were raised and answered online or taken on notice. The responses from the Board are now available below:
Does SGLMG consider itself to be dedicated to amplifying and expressing the voices of the LGBTQ community? If so, why did the board see fit to use legal loopholes to shut down the free speech of members and decline to hear motions for arbitrary reasons, without providing a chance for members to respond to and amend motions appropriately?
SGLMG’s ‘always on’ vision enables and encourages both members and the broader LGBTQIA+ communities to approach and collaborate with SGLMG throughout the year. All open discussions are held with a view for SGLMG and our communities to express issues, collaborate and take action, resulting in the amplification and support of LGBTQIA+ voices. The AGM would then be a platform to report on the progress made regarding these matters that are raised by our communities.
Regarding the proposed motions, SGLMG had engaged with the proposers in an attempt to review the form and wording of the proposed motions. While not required to do so, in order to provide members with the Board’s views on the subject matters covered by the various motions, the Board also converted those proposed resolutions into questions which were answered in this published response.
The proposers and seconders of the relevant motions were also invited to raise these questions during the AGM if they wished.
Open discussions with a view to take action are encouraged and welcomed. Ideas should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org to start the conversation.
Declare the basis on which the board concluded to not hear the motions presented by Pride and Protest, and expose the basis for that conclusion? Expose if the board believed the motions were not valid and much more importantly, was there any advice that they sought, reveal the advice provided and by whom.
The Board is comfortable the published position that the resolutions presented were invalid or incapable of being legally effective. While not required to do so, in order to provide members with the Board’s views on the subject matters covered by the various motions the Board converted those proposed resolutions into questions which were answered in this published response.
The proposers and seconders of the relevant motions were also invited to raise these questions during the AGM if they wished.
SGLMG encourages communication throughout the year to enable understanding, potential collaboration and action with members for the benefit of our communities.
Why the Board formed a view of the motions that they were not valid or effective? What was the basis for its view? The Board should expose its reasoning and the basis upon which it concluded the motions were not valid or incapable of being legally effective.
Did the Board have legal advice that the motions were not valid or effective?
If so, is it willing to release the advice?
In light of the Board’s decision on these motions, is there any room for members motions to be put to Mardi Gras AGMs? What sort of members’ motions, if any, may be entertained in future?
The Board is comfortable with the decision that the motions were not valid or able to be effective in the form provided. Responsibility for calling general meetings rests with the board, which includes ensuring that the motions put to the meeting are valid and able to be effected so as to preserve the efficiency and orderly conduct of the meeting. SGLMG had engaged with the proposers in an attempt to review the form and wording of the proposed motions. In addition, in order to provide members with the Board’s views on the subject matters covered by the various motions the Board converted those proposed motions into questions which were answered in this published response. The proposers and seconders of the relevant motions were also invited to raise these questions during the AGM if they wished.
SGLMG is open and willing to address questions and encourages interactions both at the AGM and throughout the year. Motions that are valid and able to be legally effective will be put to the Members for consideration SGLMG will develop a guidance document to assist with drafting valid and effective resolutions.
Should the Harbour Bridge have been chosen as the location of the WorldPride march given it can’t be used at a social hour?
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of the most recognisable structures in the world and one of the city’s most iconic locations, the perfect place to amplify the voice of Sydney’s LGBTQIA+ community on an international stage. The Harbour Bridge is rarely closed, the use of it for the Pride March was a testament to the wider support for Sydney WorldPride and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
The number of people able to participate in the Pride March was determined by the relevant authorities to ensure that the event could safely and securely happen in the timeframe available for the Bridge.
Why is the WorldPride march restricted with the number of people? Why was a location chosen that had such restrictions in number of people and time of day?
See above response.