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Diversity makes us stronger: A spotlight on NSW Public Works staff for Harmony Week

Harmony Week (21-27 March) is a moment to celebrate inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone. It’s a time to reflect on the importance of respecting each other and our differences.

We spoke with four staff to learn about their cultural background and why they believe workplace diversity makes NSW Public Works a stronger organisation.

Emerie Anonical

Emerie Anonical

Project Manager, Riverina West Region
Working at NSW Public Works for 2.5 years

“I was born in a small province in the Philippines and moved to Australia when I was 12 in 2009 (about mid-way through year 6). Through that experience, I think I gathered a lot of skills in understanding people and their different beliefs and upbringing which then explained their different views and opinions. Today, that very skill is what I use in managing stakeholder views and how to address each and every one without making them feel unheard and unvalidated. I am grateful for this and give credit to my younger self every day!

“There are many things you just won’t know without the input of others, if one person can do it all then a lot of our roles wouldn’t exist. It makes us stronger when we can implement more rigid approaches, including those formed through collaborations from many great minds.”

Kelvyn Tan

Project Manager, Hunter New England Region
Working at NSW Public Works for 7 months

“I was born in Singapore and migrated to Australia in 1997. Both of my parents are Singapore Chinese. We lived and grew up in a multi-racial society. Singaporeans do not consider entitlement to be inheritable through family or ethnicity. From a young age, I learnt the importance of values including self-discipline, modesty, efficiency, frugality and propriety. At work, I maintain a healthy interaction with colleagues and other stakeholders based on respect, professional and accountability.

“A diverse workforce promotes productivity, creativity and innovation with a variety of individuals and talents together. If challenges include individual/cultural differences and communication gap/barriers are valued and accepted, employees can contribute their unique experiences, skills and abilities to the success of the team and business.”

Did you know? There are more than 40 ethnic and cultural groups living in Tamworth (where Kelvyn lives).

Latife Mohamed

Latife Mohamed

Project Support Officer, South Coast Region
Working at NSW Public Works for 11 months

“I come from a Muslim Lebanese background. I believe my background has been an asset for me, in the sense that my beliefs have given me a resilient nature that helps me keep going, even in the hardest of times.

“[Workplace diversity] makes us more tolerable as a community. We might all have different beliefs, processes and understandings, but we can all come together for a unified purpose. Workplace diversity makes NSW Public Works such a great place to work, particularly for me.”

Glenn Fernandes

Glenn Fernandes

Director, Water Resources Management, Sydney
Working at NSW Public Works for 23 years

“I grew up in the cosmopolitan city of Mumbai in India. I lived in an apartment block with 120 flats, housing people from different religious, cultural, social and ethnic backgrounds. We lived as a community, celebrating and participating in each other’s’ festivals. I learnt four languages―now five if you include ‘Australian’. This experience helps me to understand and appreciate the lifestyle of different people allowing me to accommodate their professional needs and adjust my own work practices.

People from diverse backgrounds bring with them different experiences and perspectives, ways of thinking, and ways of doing things. Diversity results in better ideas and solutions, expands the skills and talents of the workforce, allows people to learn from each other, provides a pleasant working environment and allows us to have a better understanding of our customers.”