CSIRO Telescope Turns Rainbow As Staff March In First Sydney Mardi Gras


CSIRO radio telescope
Photo: Alex Cherney/CSIRO

National science agency CSIRO has lit up its Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope in rainbow colours ahead of their staff’s participation in their first Sydney Mardi Gras parade.

In the stunning photo, the radio telescope’s antennas are lit by portable white LED lights placed on the ground in front of each antenna, with each light being coloured a different shade.

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The photo was taken by Australian “astro” photographer Alex Cherney at CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in remote Western Australia, around 800km north of Perth.

On March 2, fifty CSIRO staff will participate in their first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade, holding a giant DNA double helix to celebrate the organisation’s commitment to diversity.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said diversity “is in our DNA, and our LGBTQI+ community is a crucial part of CSIRO’s DNA.”

“It is only through an inclusive and diverse culture that we can imagine, invent, and innovate solutions to Australia’s greatest challenges,” Dr Marshall said.

“At the CSIRO we want people to bring their whole selves to work, to create a healthier, happier workplace where people are truly empowered and free to innovate and shape the future.”

Insect expert Dr Bryan Lessard, known to colleagues as Bry the Fly Guy, will be among the contingent of staff representing the CSIRO in this year’s Mardi Gras parade.

“From naming a bootylicious insect ‘Beyonce’ to preaching the wonders of flies on the radio and TV, I’ve had the privilege of doing some pretty fabulous things over the course of my career, and representing CSIRO at Mardi Gras will be right up there,” Dr Lessard said.

LGBTIQ ally Dr Sarah Pearce, Deputy Director of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS), founded CASS’s Diversity Committee in 2014.

“We really value the diversity of our people, and how they bring different perspectives to innovate and shape the future for everyone,” Dr Pearce said.

“As a national research facility, ASKAP is used by a diverse group of astronomers from right around the globe.”

According to the Diversity Council Australia, people who work in an inclusive team are nine times more likely to innovate, and ten times more likely to be highly effective than workers in non-inclusive teams.

The 41st Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras kicked off its program of community and cultural events last Friday, with the festival culminating in the annual Parade and Party on March 2.

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Among the headliners of this year’s Mardi Gras Party are German pop star Kim Petras, dance duo PNAU, Jake Shears, Courtney Act, and Brisbane cabaret troupe Briefs, among dozens of other performers across multiple stages.

A live stream of this year’s Mardi Gras parade will be available online on SBS On Demand and the SBS Twitter account on Saturday, March 2.

SBS’ telecast of the parade with commentary from hosts Joel Creasey, Nerelda Jacobs, Zoe Coombs Marr and Patrick Abboud will screen on Sunday, March 3 from 8:35pm.