Everyone is ‘Welcome Here’

Check out some of the great local businesses in Parramatta who have signed up to be Welcome Here sites, creating environments that are visibly welcoming and inclusive of LGBTQI+ people

4 mins read

To show its commitment to increasing the inclusion and well-being of communities who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI+), the City of Parramatta is championing a project called ‘Welcome Here’. 

The ‘Welcome Here’ project run by health promotion organisation ACON, focuses on supporting local business owners and services to create and promote environments that are visibly welcoming and inclusive of LGBTQI+ people.

Local businesses throughout the Parramatta LGA were invited to participate. They needed to register and undertake training to be involved. Each of them will now display the ‘Welcome Here’ sticker in a prominent place at their sites and on their websites.

In addition, all of Council's libraries, PHIVE, Wentworth Point Community Centre, Riverside Theatres, and Parramatta Artist Studios have been trained to be ‘Welcome Here’ sites. Council has also become a member of ‘Pride in Diversity’- the national not-for-profit employer support program for LGBTQI+ workplace inclusion. The Parramatta Welcome Here Project has only been possible because of the support from Woolworths Group, which sponsored the registrations and training for each of the businesses.

The Parramatta ‘Welcome Here’ project includes the following businesses that have all signed up for the program and have undertaken training.

Charlene Bordley from Parramatta Bike Tours that runs tours around the Parramatta area, and provides cycle coaching, is keen to learn from her company’s involvement in the program, as well as grow and maintain a safe and welcoming space. Before the program started, Parramatta Bike Tours had already taken several steps to welcome, include, support, and celebrate the LGBTQI+ community.

“The City of Parramatta offering this fully funded program, not only provides us with the means to participate in formal training but also feel supported by our local council, to be more vocal on our values and goal to create a safe space within our business,” added Charlene.

A number of Parramatta’s cafes and bars also see the opportunity to show their support for all customers.

Matthew Snelling from Umaya Japanese restaurant located in Parramatta CBD, which has been part of the local community since 2017, is focused on making all customers feel safe and welcome to the business and the wider Parramatta community.

“We want all members of the community to feel safe and happy, part of the community no matter their preferences, culture or diversity. Being part of this initiative will allow us to take down the walls and bring everyone together,” said Matthew.

Proprietor of the White Henry Café and Teddy Black Espresso Bar, Andy Canestrari-Soh is committed to welcoming and including LGBTQI+ people at White Henry, including taking actions such as displaying symbols of inclusivity to signal a welcoming and safe space for everyone.

The cafes are both located in the Parramatta CBD and they celebrate diversity in all forms in their hiring practices, and actively welcome applicants from all backgrounds and sexual orientations, and gender identities.

“I am a member of the LGBTQI+ community myself, as have been many of my staff over the years. In addition to making it a clear expectation of employment at White Henry, we also actively ensure that staff are coached on treating all customers and community members with which we interact with respect and to be welcoming to everyone at all times,” said Andy.

And it’s not just Parramatta CBD-based businesses who work in a retail environment that want to be involved in the program. Recyclable disposable cup distributor 4UU4 Cups located in Merrylands, believes that it’s important for businesses to help each other. Owner Michelle Cui says that her company is keen to “help our community and is willing to grow with Parramatta City together to build our beautiful City.

“We even supply our cups in the rainbow colours of red, pink, purple, yellow, blue, and green,” added Michelle.

Council has further shown its support for LGBTQI+ people through its membership of the Parramatta Queer Forum (PQF), a local network of community members, government agencies and not-for-profits whose aim is to increase LGBTQI+ inclusion and wellbeing. The PQF coordinates the Parramatta Pride Picnic, one of the largest pride events in Western Sydney.

To learn more about the ‘Welcome Here’ program visit www.cityofparramatta.nsw.gov.au/welcome-here and look out for the ‘Welcome Here’ stickers around Parramatta.