By young people, for young people

16 December 2019

YWCA Canberra partnered with Xero to participate in ANU’s 2019 TechLauncher initiative. Through TechLauncher, students work to create tech solutions that tackle real world issues. Over the past six months a team of students have collaborated with our Youth Engagement Team and young LGBTIQA+ people to develop a very cool prototype.

We’re living in a time where there’s no doubt that young people are driving progressive social change.

Sometimes they lead from the front, loudly and proudly – think Greta Thunberg, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Drisana Levitzke-Gray, Sanna Marin, Carly Findlay.

And some fly under the radar, their work and contribution to the community well clear of the public spotlight.

Earlier this year seven enthusiastic computer science students from ANU chose to volunteer their time and talent to work on a project alongside YWCA Canberra’s Youth Engagement team.

Their mission: to develop a tech solution to help address job insecurity for young LGBTIQA+ people in the ACT.

The first step was to facilitate an exchange of skills and lived experience between the students and participants of YWCA Canberra’s A-Z program.

Ciára Duggan, YWCA Canberra’s Youth Programs Team Leader played a pivotal role in the project, ensuring the students were briefed on the challenges faced by young LGBTIQA+ people and creating a safe, respectful and productive dialogue between the two groups.

“It was really important to sit down with the students before meeting the A-Z program participants to unpack the issues the project aspired to address.

“We talked about the insidious side of discrimination like not feeling like you can put forward your preferred name or pronoun in the workplace, applying for jobs where there’s no options for different titles like MX, or having to use binary bathrooms.

“We also discussed some of the more overt discrimination experienced by many LGBTIQA+ young people like being given fewer shifts, loss of employment when coming out at work, or being subject to homophobia.

“Sometimes it can be really hard to find mentors or allies too, especially when there’s low or no other LGBTIQA+ people in your workplace.”

Shreyas Nagarajappa, a developer from Xero, provided mentoring, resources, and guided the students through the process of gathering requirements to designing, delivering, and testing the prototype with end users.

“Successful TechLauncher projects tend to be stand alone solutions that are not bogged down by compliance requirements or third party system integration restrictions.

“We are not constrained by the technology, platform or the domain we work in, so it’s a really dynamic and exciting way for the students to gain professional experience and deliver a project that’s important for their local community.

“The team at Xero are really passionate about giving the students the kind of guidance and support we wish we had received when we were still at uni.”

Last month the students presented the initial working prototype at the TechLauncher showcase, and the project was a headliner.

At the event the students presented to a number of university, government and industry representatives, demonstrating how users can log in, create a profile, and undertake basic searches to find inclusive workplaces.

The team is now working on a badge system to show which employers hold accreditations such as the Rainbow Tick, and which are recommended by a community member as an employer of choice.

Xero and YWCA Canberra will continue to support the ongoing development of the app through the TechLauncher program in 2020 with the goal of delivering a final product to the community at the end of the year.

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