- Charles Sturt was a major sponsor of the inaugural Wagga Wagga Mardi Gras Festival in 2019
- The University has renewed its sponsorship agreement for the 2020 edition, scheduled for Saturday 14 March
- The agreement aligns strongly with the University’s values of inclusion and diversity
The renewed sponsorship agreement between Charles Sturt University (Charles Sturt) and the Wagga Wagga Mardi Gras Festival is more than a monetary arrangement.
Charles Sturt Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor John Germov said the Mardi Gras, which celebrates individuality and embraces diversity and inclusivity, aligns strongly with the University’s values.
“It’s important that as a University dedicated to the public good we support community events that lessen forms of discrimination and promote inclusivity and diversity,” Professor Germov said.
“Universities should be safe and welcoming places where people feel respected and free to be themselves.”
The inaugural Wagga Wagga Mardi Gras in March 2019 exceeded everyone’s expectations.
It became a beacon of hope and inclusion for the Wagga Wagga community and executive director of Marketing and Communication Mr Shawn Walker said it was an easy decision for Charles Sturt to renew the sponsorship agreement for the 2020 event.
“This initiative is much bigger than the parade,” he said.
“It sends a message to those questioning their sex or gender identity that they are not alone.”
Mr Walker said the renewed agreement allows the University to partner with an event the Wagga Wagga community genuinely supports.
Staff and students from Wagga Wagga, Albury and Bathurst attended the inaugural event.
The University’s Equity and Diversity project manager Mr Nicholas Steepe, who was named Out Role Model 2019 at the Australian Workplace Equality Index Awards, attended in 2019 and expects to see more staff and students from all Charles Sturt campuses in Wagga Wagga next year.
“Attending in 2019 with Charles Sturt was such an incredible experience, and I’m looking forward to witnessing the growth in 2020,” he said.
“Charles Sturt is in a unique position as an influential presence within the communities we are based.
“The University’s commitment to equity and diversity demonstrated through the renewed sponsorship of Wagga Mardi Gras sends a strong message to staff, students and alumni as well as to the wider community that everyone has a right to love and be their authentic self, regardless of their postcode.”
Wagga Mardi Gras Festival organiser and founder Ms Holly Conroy was excited Charles Sturt renewed its commitment, saying it sends a positive message to the University’s LGBTIQA+ community.
“Monetary value aside, it has a much bigger impact on those who go to the University - it creates so much diversity,” she said.
Ms Conroy listened to feedback after this year’s parade and has made changes, including adding more food vendors, an alcohol-free, family-friendly zone, and fireworks from 9.30pm on Saturday 14 March.
Speakers will be placed along the length of Baylis Street for music to be heard the entire length of the parade, with a Mardi Gras playlist to be released soon to assist participants to organise choreography.
The festival will run across three days, with a drag night on Friday 13 March and rainbow markets and recovery breakfast on Sunday 15 March.
“I’ve tried to make it a full weekend for those who come from out of town so it gives them incentive to stay in Wagga Wagga for longer,” Miss Conroy said.
The Wagga Mardi Gras Festival will be held from Friday 13 to Sunday 15 March 2020.