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Walking in rainbow shoes out west

 
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Before Beck Humphreys began her teaching career, she never wanted to leave Brisbane.

'My community was there, my safety net was there, and all my friends were there,' Beck said.

But fast-forward 10 years and today you’ll find Beck teaching at Barcaldine Prep–12 State School, having just bought a house in Aramac with her girlfriend.

'We have a 1-year-old lab called Lucky, go to our local bowls club most Friday nights after a busy week for a $1 sausage sizzle and game,' Beck said.

'I became one of those stories where I came out to have a rural experience, and here we are 7 years later. I never left!'

Beck’s path to a rural life was fuelled by conversations with teaching mentors when she was a beginning teacher at Bundamba State Secondary College in Ipswich.

'My older colleagues spoke fondly of their time teaching out in the country,' Beck said.

'Everybody had done it and remarked how open and welcoming their communities were, and how much the experience had helped them cement good skills in the foundation of their careers.'

'Most even have a story where they knew a teacher who moved out of the south-east corner, met someone, and have never come back,' Beck said.

'To me, it was also clear that teaching outside of the city was a rite of passage, and a good way to give back to the community.'

Beck was keen to keep up the tradition in her career and started to seriously consider making the move herself, excited by the prospect of new experiences.

'Everything sounded great, but my only concern was how the community would react if they found out I’m gay,' Beck said.

Beck’s principal at the time gave her some advice—wise words which Beck would now give to anybody going rural or remote.

'My principal told me that rural communities are friendly places and that teachers are highly respected,' Beck said.

'He encouraged me to make an effort to truly be a part of the community when I moved—to join in with sports, committees and events.'

'So that’s what I did, and seven years later I’m still the secretary of our local bowls club!' Beck said.

'By giving some of your time and getting out and joining in with things in the community, you earn respect from the people around you and you’re free to be yourself.'

Beck’s experience teaching for the Queensland Department of Education in a rural community has been a positive one.

'People have always been accepting of me,' Beck said.

As an LGBTIQ+ inclusive employer, the department aims to provide workplaces where all employees feel safe, valued and supported to bring their whole selves to work.

The department released its Proud at Work (PDF, 831KB) workforce strategy in August 2018, part of the We All Belong (PDF, 3.2MB) workforce inclusion and diversity framework which outlines the department’s commitment to grow together, valuing and embracing the different skills, knowledge and experiences each staff member brings.

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In 2019, the department was awarded a Bronze Standard in the Australian Workforce Equality Index for its dedication to building LGBTIQ+ inclusive workplaces.

Beck said that working for the department has also given her opportunities to be involved in projects she cares about.

'In my capacity as a Central Queensland Rainbow Liaison Officer, I provide inclusion training opportunities for department staff.'

'I offer confidential support to LGBTIQ+ identifying staff and allies if there are issues that may be affecting them or impacting their workplace,' Beck said.

Beck is also a member of the department’s True Colours Steering Committee.

Made up of LGTBIQ+ identifying staff and teachers, the committee provides feedback on department strategies and collaborates on initiatives that build support capacity for LGBTIQ+ identifying staff, including celebrating International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia and Wear it Purple Day.

The committee supports the department’s True Colours Online Network, a virtual community allowing all department employees to play an active role in building inclusion.

Beck encouraged teachers to get involved with department networks like True Colours as well as in their local communities.

'Being part of work initiatives and forming relationships with your colleagues is just as important as building connections in your community,' Beck said.

'There are always going to be challenges in the teaching profession, but help is never far away.'

'Whether it’s your principal or another colleague, someone has been in your shoes, knows how you feel and more often than not has an appropriate solution,' Beck said.

Beck’s other advice for teachers?

'Go out west—because west is the best!'

'And never be afraid to try something new,' Beck said.

'Teaching really is the best profession out there and can lead you to exciting places that you could never have dreamed of.'

Teach with the Queensland Department of Education and adventure awaits you all around the state.

You’ll be supported through our inclusive workplace culture and get the opportunity to teach in diverse communities across Queensland over the course of your career.

Interested? Submit your application now!

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Last updated 19 June 2020