Welcome to our special series celebrating Diversity and Inclusion in MercyCare’s employees, volunteers and service users. Our stories are accompanied by Steve Wise’s remarkable photographs, that show how these ordinary, yet extraordinary, people are individually effecting change for themselves and the people around them. We hope you enjoy their personal stories.
Luca Mizen – MercyCare Early Learning Centre Student
For three-year-old Luca, having two Mums is normal. It doesn’t worry her that the child who sits next to her at early learning eats only halal, or that her friend gets picked up by her grandparent.
For many children today, differences are barely noticed. It’s simply accepted as the way things are.
“For the most part, children don’t even register differences, they don’t bat an eyelid. Whether it is a child with two Mums, or a child that doesn’t eat meat or only halal. Because we have so many differences it is just so normal for them. Maybe it’s because they’re quite young, or maybe it’s because the world is changing,” Luca’s Mum, and Thornlie Early Learning Centre Manager, Leah Mizen said.
It’s a welcome change, and one that Leah has seen develop from when she was young and
came out 14 years ago at the age of 20 with her now wife, Amber.
“Even from when I was a teenager, acceptance has changed. I see my nieces and my own family growing up and it is just so normal for them to have a friend that is gay or whatever it might be. It’s just not a big deal for children these days. Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t have lots of different issues, but I think there has definitely been a big change.”
At the Early Learning Centre, there are a host of different family set-ups, from same-sex parents to single parents, extended families living together to blended families. All, Leah said, are treated equally.
“We have some really good resources now to teach the children things like, for example, different abilities, different family dynamics; plus, because we are in a very multicultural area, we learn from each other by celebrating our differences.
“Teaching diversity and inclusion in a early learning setting means everyone feels supported and welcome. Just that sense of belonging and feeling accepted. That’s really important for little children because that’s their foundations.”
Leah is against the simplistic view that while we may look different, we’re all the same on the inside.
“We all have different beliefs and values, so we’re not actually all the same inside. I think it should be that people know it’s okay to be different on the outside and the inside.”