International Women’s Day – Inspire Inclusion

Mimi from ReachOut

Through Telco Together initiatives like Small Change Big Change (SCBC), we support partners like ReachOut, empowering them to make a difference. This International Women’s Day, we’re spotlighting Mimi Kilbey’s incredible journey from ReachOut volunteer to leading Project Management for Laps for Life. Her story exemplifies the empowerment SCBC strives to foster and how this can drive the generosity and power of individuals to develop themselves whilst contributing to the well-being of societies.

Our commitment to women doesn’t stop there. At Telco Together Foundation we invest in mentorship and leadership development within our team, recognising diversity and inclusion as vital for success. We are proud to champion our values within the work we do including the opportunity to encourage and inspire others. Here’s some perspectives from Jen and Carin:

TTF IWD 2024

In this blog series, join us as we chat with Mimi from Reach Out about her journey and discuss gender equality in the workplace and beyond.

What does the theme “Inspire Inclusion” mean to you personally?
To me ‘Inspire Inclusion’ means to encourage and promote inclusion within your life. At work, at home, in public. It means giving people a seat at the table, thinking about people’s diverse needs and traits, and creating safe spaces for people to grow and shine.

Have you encountered any challenges related to inclusion, and if so, how have you overcome them?
Over the years in my personal and professional life I have come across challenges related to inclusion such as people and spaces not being supportive of my additional needs or different ways of thinking/working. This has lead me to at times feel left out, be overwhelmed and unsupported to thrive. I am grateful that I currently work somewhere that is supportive and celebratory of every part of me.

Can you share a personal experience where you felt empowered by inclusion at ReachOut or where inclusion played a significant role in your experience?
In my roles at ReachOut, both as a Youth Ambassador and now a staff member, I have been empowered to be my authentic self and celebrate my differences.

As a LGBQTIA+ neurodivergent woman – with a lived/living experience of mental ill-health and a chronic illness – being a part of an organisation and a team that supports me with my needs, and encourages different ways of thinking has been a game changer. Being able to show up and be open about my experiences without fear of being judged is really important to me.

In your opinion, what are some key actions ReachOut takes to foster inclusivity and diversity?
In my opinion ReachOut fosters inclusivity and diversity by acknowledging that everyone has different ways of working and supporting staff to create ways of working best suited to them. For me personally this has meant adjusting my working hours, working hybrid between the office and home and being flexible about it, and acknowledging and supporting my additional needs to best support me at work.

Overall I think that ReachOut also fosters inclusivity and diversity by creating a service for young people with the input of young people and working with experts in different areas to ensure relevant resources are available to a diverse range of people.

Who is a female figure with ReachOut that has inspired you in terms of promoting inclusion, and why?
My incredible manager and all the amazing women in our team have been so inclusive and are always lifting me up. I think women working together and supporting each other like they do on our team is so important in a world that very often tries to create competition between women.

What role do you believe education plays in fostering a culture of inclusion, especially for young girls and women?
I think education is very important in fostering a culture of inclusion. All women should have equal educational opportunities as everyone else and not be limited in their education choices or areas because of our gender. I also think that education for all people surrounding topics such as menstruation, female-focused sex education and consent education are incredibly important to break down stigmas and create a more inclusive environment for women in the world.

What initiatives or projects with ReachOut have you been involved in that promote diversity and inclusion?
As a Lived Experience Youth Ambassador, I got to share my mental health story with others to show a glimpse into what living with a mental illness can be like. Being supported by ReachOut in that journey to be a storyteller and given opportunities to share my truth was incredible. In a world that still has a lot of stigma and shame around mental health, being supported to be open about my own experiences has been really encouraging and has helped me be able to help others and to be able to advocate for myself more.

In what ways can workplaces and organisations better support and encourage diversity and inclusion among their employees?
Education and support. I think organisations should be showing up for staff by being proactive in educating themselves on diversity and inclusion. This could be by having inclusion and diversities policies in place and training in the workplace for things such as; menstrual/menopause, maternity (including miscarriage and termination), neurodiversity, sexuality, disability and culture – to name a few.

Whilst it is never safe to assume what someone may need and we should always be asking people what they may need. It shouldn’t be up to the person to fully educate the organisation on what they need. I think that having an upfront policy about these areas, and then providing some suggestions about ways they may have supported others in the past and then having open conversations with people about what they need.

How do you envision the future of inclusivity and diversity, particularly for young girls and women?
I hope that we can achieve equity for people in the world. Creating opportunities for young girls and women, not assigning gender stereotypes, being able to be safe and free and empowered.

How do you think young women can contribute to creating a more inclusive society?
Be open to having these conversations from a young age and advocating for yourself and your rights. But also by knowing that it is not solely up to women to be creating a more inclusive society for them. The world as a whole needs to do so.

Lastly, how do you plan to celebrate International Women’s Day this year, and what message would you like to share with others?
I am going to be attending a Queer Womens (including AFAB, NB, Trans Women) Day Event celebrating women artists and connecting with the community.

Thank you Mimi for sharing your insightful thoughts and personal journey, we hope it helps to inspire other women to the same success that you continuously represent.

ReachOut is Australia’s leading online mental health organisation dedicated to providing support and resources for young people and their parents. Proudly supported by Telco Together Foundation’s Small Change Big Change (SCBC), ReachOut offers a comprehensive range of digital tools, information, and forums designed to help young individuals navigate through tough times and improve their mental wellbeing. With a focus on accessibility and inclusivity, ReachOut reaches millions of users annually, providing evidence-based support and fostering a supportive online community. Their mission in alignment with SCBC is to empower young people to take control of their mental health, build resilience, and lead fulfilling lives.

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