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AIDS ACTION COUNCIL OF THE ACT

aidsaction.org.au

GPO Box 229 Canberra ACT 2601 T: 02 6257 2855 F: 02 6257 4838

Annual Report 2008 - 2009


Contents

President’s Message 3 General Manager’s Report 4 Overview 5 The HIV Epidemic 5 People Living with HIV (PLHIV) 6 Organisation Development 6 Organisation 7 The Community Development Unit 8 The Community Support Services Unit 8 People Living with HIV/AIDS ACT (PLWHA ACT) 9 PSex Worker Outreach Project 9 Westlund House 9 Programme Review 10 Enabling a healthy community 12 Living well  14

reform issues, mental health community discussion, Alzheimer’s Association) and in postings to ACT Queer concerning community health and well being issues. In response to Same Sex Law Reform information, we have actively updated the community with information about significant changes in the law, particularly around Centrelink issues and the changes to take place from 1 July 2009;

“From 1 July 2009 changes to Commonwealth legislation mean that a definition of “de facto relationship” will replace the definition of “marriage-like” relationship. Most importantly, the new definition of “de facto” relationship will include same-sex couples. This means that a person may be considered to be in a de facto relationship whatever the gender of their partner.” Fair Day provides a space for our many and diverse communities to come together and celebrate what community means and to showcase resources, connect with other communities as well as generate new members where appropriate. Both AAC and PLWHA ACT have been given Authorised Visitor Status to the recently opened ACT prison; The Alexander Maconochie Centre. This is the first such facility in Australia to be planned within human rights principles. Authorised Visitor Status allows us to provide ongoing meaningful assistance to members of our communities in need. We also provide input through the

Community Corrections Coalition.

“The ACT Community Corrections Coalition is a coalition of agencies and individuals that have a direct interest in corrections and particularly the ACT Prison Project (Alexander Maconochie Centre), its planning, operation and performance in meeting the goals and objectives set out by the ACT government.” ANU Medical Students are provided an opportunity by the Australian National University Medical School to hear directly from PLHIV about living with HIV, side effects of medication and the psycho social impact of living with a long term chronic illness. We continue to work in partnership with other agencies and community groups to provide varied services which meet the needs of individuals and groups to live well. Now and into the future we will continue to seek community involvement and feedback constructively adding to the evolvement of this philosophy that the;

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AIDS Action Council

Annual Report 2008 - 2009


President’s Message It is my pleasure to introduce the annual report of the AIDS Action Council of the ACT (AAC) for 2008 – 2009. It has been a busy year for the organisation and one in which a number of developments have kept the Board, staff and volunteers of the organisation busy. Of significance was the completion of a new three-year strategic framework to guide the AAC through existing and emerging challenges. It is fitting that, as we approach the 25th anniversary of the official launch of the AIDS Action Council by then Federal Health Minister Dr. Neal Blewitt, the strategic framework gives greater attention to the shape and purpose of the organisation. The primary and overwhelming charter for the organisation is to respond to HIV-related needs in prevention, education, support and advocacy. The Board recognises that the environment in which AAC undertakes its work is continually changing and in many ways is more complex than ever before. In light of this, the three-year strategic framework is centred on strengthening the organisation and ensuring it is efficient, effective and resilient. Over the next three years, AAC will focus on five key areas of activity. These are; increasing membership, expanding and diversifying funding, strengthening human resources, ensuring appropriate quality assurance and building the agency’s profile. Further information about these key activity areas and examples of initiatives that reflect them can be found throughout this annual report. I would like to comment specifically on one issue that has occupied a great deal of attention for the Council over the last year. It is the challenge of remaining relevant and connected to the communities we serve. Many people, including those recently diagnosed with HIV do not access the services the Council provides. In part, this reflects the Council’s historical status as an ‘AIDS organisation’ in a changing environment where HIV is now seen, by many, as a treatable chronic condition and is one aspect of a full and varied life. In general this change in the status of HIV is welcome, but rising infection rates, particularly among younger gay men, show a risk associated with the relaxation of vigilance that can result from this change.

Ross Wilson President

For the ACT in particular, many communities are quite small and are thus rarely represented by organised groups. This presents challenges for us when we seek to engage. The task facing the organisation is to reinforce and expand its connectedness to the wider community so that, if the situation arises, people know about the services available to them and will feel comfortable in accessing them. The strength of AAC has always reflected outstanding and qualified staff and the Council has been very fortunate to have attracted and retained some exceptional people. The expertise and commitment of the management and the dedication of the staff remain great assets. Ross Wilson President

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AIDS Action Council

Annual Report 2008 - 2009


General Manager’s Report The past year has been characterised by the continuing transformation of the AIDS Action Council into an organisation that is both responsive and proactive.An organisation that anticipates the impacts of the changes we perceive around us, and yet responds to individuals and communities with sensitivity, effectiveness and timeliness. After more than a year of the Rudd Labor government, it would be comforting to say that the future is one of greater certainty. In some ways this is true, although the outlook is one where new challenges must be addressed. The most recent Strategy for combating HIV (No. Five) expired in 2008 and the Sixth National Strategy is close to receiving the endorsement of the Ministers of Health. Meanwhile, the Rudd Government has introduced major and fundamental reforms to Australia’s health system. These include radical changes in the way in which federal and state funding is managed, including greater discretion for each jurisdiction to determine its own priorities and the way resources are allocated. Many communitybased organisations that are heavily reliant on government funding are affected by this new landscape, and with all budgets under pressure from downstream impacts of the global financial crisis, there is a competitive environment for potentially dwindling funds available to the community sector. The challenges for this organisation are clear. We must both understand and articulate the differences we make for the communities we serve and we must ensure that wherever possible, these are based on solid evidence. Throughout this year, we have critically examined every aspect of our operation, and with the support of a new strategic framework increased, modified and/ or refocussed many of our activities. Accountability is an important priority for any organisation. We are accountable for achieving the outputs required under our service agreement with ACT Health, and again this year these were exceeded.

We are also accountable to our members, and in this regard it is pleasing to see member numbers grow. Increased membership leads to an organisation that is more representative and relevant. There has been a significant increase in the level of demand for all services provided by the Council. More workshops have been offered and attended by larger groups of men and women. Counselling demand has also been high as have requests for advocacy across a diverse range of issues. Not only have increasing numbers of community members sought access to our services, but the agency has also been called on to support other initiatives from allied organisations. These include working to improve the quality of access to primary care – particularly GPs - for gays and lesbians, providing training for those who provide health and related services to sex workers, training within the Alexander Maconochie Centre and providing input into the new National Strategies. This level of output reflects a successful year for the AIDS Action Council, however as our visibility and accessibility has increased, the demand generated has led us towards resource constraints. Our higher profile has resulted in increased community expectations which are not always easily accommodated. Because most of what we do is funded by Government for very specific purposes around minimising transmission and the

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AIDS Action Council

social and personal impacts of HIV, our ability to address broader issues around gay and lesbian health is dependent on community support and self-generated funds. We know that much more needs to be done in the ACT to improve the physical, mental and social health of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and during the year we have continued to talk with Government about how this can be incorporated into a new service agreement. While it has been an extremely busy year, we have been fortunate to have been fully staffed and experienced no staff changes. This is the first time for many years, and this stability has been fully used in improving the quality and productivity of all Council activities as well as offering capacity for trying new ideas. I would like to thank all of our excellent staff, Board members and volunteers for their highly skilled strategic work during 2008 – 2009. This annual report provides a detailed review of the work of AAC over the past year, identifies challenges ahead and outlines some of the strategies being employed to ensure that as this Council reaches its 25th anniversary, it will remain strong and resilient. This more than anything else will be a fitting tribute to the dedication and commitment of thousands of people over a quarter century. Andrew Burry General Manager

Annual Report 2008 - 2009


Overview The HIV Epidemic With the latest numbers (2008) now available, the headline news is a stabilisation in the total number of new infections in Australia at around 1,000 per year. Victoria, which along with Queensland had been showing rises in recent years, actually recorded a decline. If true, then it vindicates some reinvestment in prevention efforts and supports an argument for this reinvestment to continue. This epidemic has always been complex and a good headline can obscure some underlying and disturbing trends. This response has traditionally focused on a number of different populations; men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, sex workers and heterosexuals. Further complexities

have emerged including an increase in HIV acquired overseas as well as HIV attributed to high prevalence countries. The latter includes Australians travelling to and/or working in areas where HIV prevalence is high as well as migrants travelling between their country of birth and Australia. Whilst there is too little data at this stage, it is clear that attention needs to be given to behaviour, service utilisation and needs.

Despite these emerging trends and despite stability in total numbers, two thirds of new infections remain the result of homosexual activity. The picture is changing here too. Since 2006, the number of people acquiring HIV via male-to-male sex and aged 29 years or less has increased by 26%. The data may not yet support firm conclusions but suggests that we must continue to be vigilant.

HIV diagnoses in MSM by selected age group 130 30-34 years

HIV diagnoses

120 110 100

25-29 years

90 80

<24 years 70 60 502004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Simple linear trends show that for those aged 24 years or less and those aged between 25 and 29, the infection rate is rising. The trend for those aged between 30 and 34 is moving in the opposite direction and in 2008, for the first time, more 25 to 29 year old men are receiving a positive diagnosis than those aged 30 to 34. For some time we have recognised difficulties in interacting effectively with younger homosexually active men. This group is more likely to reject labels such as gay or bisexual, less likely to engage with traditional gay organisations and media and have less knowledge of the full potential impact of HIV. For younger men that do acquire the virus, they are likely to be in better general health, have lower participation in primary healthcare and will be less likely to engage with peer based HIV+ organisations. To meet these and other challenges, we have been shifting focus towards more upstream issues in recognition that HIV is an outcome rather than an event in itself. The continuing stigma around sexuality and gender diversity are strongly connected to negative health outcomes and for gay men are linked to issues of mental health, increased alcohol and other drug use and risky sexual behaviour. We believe that improving the experience of homosexually active men in their access to primary healthcare is a key priority. 5

AIDS Action Council

Annual Report 2008 - 2009


People Living with HIV (PLHIV) In Australia we have a positive population that is growing both older and younger, and the diversity and extent of their needs has never been more varied. There has been a generational change in the experience of receiving a diagnosis and this has an impact on the range of services required. Advances in treatments have meant that for those diagnosed more recently, the impact on lifespan and on general health will generally be quite minimal, provided that treatments are adhered to and a reasonably healthy lifestyle maintained. This means that with the exception of clinical services, fewer positive people need to access specialist HIV services. In fact, only a small proportion of the ACT’s positive community seeks services from the Council, and some of those that do, have intensive and complex needs. Many are also experiencing the effects of aging and the impact of other conditions.

During the year, we have developed a case management program that will provide a more integrated and empowering “living well” approach. In support of this has been a greater attention on developing bilateral relationships with other agencies, including mainstream organisations that allow us to seek better outcomes for our clients. There have been a number of significant issues that we have addressed during the year that are in the interests of all positive people. These include; the impact of same sex law reform, access to treatments (S100 drugs) outside of hospital pharmacies, immigration law, criminalisation and increasing sensitivity of primary medical services (including GPs) to specific needs of PLHIV.

We continue to focus on other long-term issues affecting PLHIV. There is growing evidence of the increased risk of cancer, which is a risk that further increases with age. Compared to the general population, male PLHIV have a risk of anal cancer that is 20 times higher. Women PLHIV have a cervical cancer incidence that is 5 times higher than in the general population. Keeping positive people healthy is a priority area of attention and much work still needs to be done in developing new programs to achieve this. Innovation is also required in methods of communication, and specific attention will be given towards developing initiatives based on electronic media.

Organisation Development In 1993, we adopted a formal statement of policy relating to the Council’s relationship to the gay and lesbian community. This statement is attached as Schedule 3 to the constitution, and says in part; “Council declares that it has a special relationship with and strong support for the aspirations of gay and lesbian communities …”. The on-going development of Westlund House as a community resource and meeting space for many of the Territory’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community organisations has been an important reflection of this statement. We receive no specific or recurring grant income for projects relating to GLBT health and wellbeing although we are sensitive to a variety of demands from Government and community for us to make commitments in this area. During the year we have raised awareness of these as important issues and pointed out that the ACT is perhaps the only Australian jurisdiction that has no resources directed

specifically towards this important area of public health. We have been able to allocate some self-generated funds into the facilitation and support of other organisations, including A Gender Agenda, the Pride Group and The Red Party. In past years, high interest rates were a significant boost to these discretionary funds, but this income source has declined this year and will continue to decline in the year ahead. Identifying diverse sources of income, including fundraising, therefore assumes a greater importance. Despite our tight budgetary position, we have been able to make some modest infrastructure investment. Some improvements have been made to Westlund House to reinforce its image as a community resource, and to reflect that it is a ‘brand’ of AAC. We have also maintained our investment in information technology and are well positioned to take advantage of new forms of 6

AIDS Action Council

communication that extend our reach and effectiveness. Our most important resource is our staff, and a year in which there was no staff turnover is a significant event. Not only has the foundation of experience improved, but it has also led to a greater sense of self confidence for the organisation as a whole. Attracting and retaining staff in the absence of an ability to pay competitive salaries requires the Council to develop a ‘preferred’ workplace. This is achieved by having a commitment to providing opportunities for professional development, ensuring that all staff are motivated through empowerment and continuing the development of a structure that is flatter and less hierarchical. Our focus is increasingly on whole-of-organisation activities incorporating a multidisciplinary approach centred on living well issues for all client groups.

Annual Report 2008 - 2009


Organisation

SUPPORT WORKER: Mick Doring

COUNSELLOR: Stephanie Buckle

MANAGER: Nada Ratcliffe

LIVING WELL CO-ORDINATOR: Marcus Bogie

COMMUNITY SUPPORT SERVICES UNIT

BOARD STAFF REP TO THE BOARD

GENERALMANAGER: Andrew Burry

PRESIDENT: Ross Wilson

SECRETARY/TREASURER: David Benger

FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION UNIT FINANCE AND MANAGER: ADMINISTRATION OFFICER: Andrew McLeod Lynn Parry

BOARD MEMBERS

ADMINISTRATION ASSISTANT: Mandi Collins

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT UNIT SOCIAL MARKETING OFFICER: Keiran Rosstesucher

MANAGER: David Mills

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT COORDINATOR: Megan Munro

SWOP EDUCATION OFFICER: Lexxie Jury

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AIDS Action Council

SWOP OUTREACH WORKERS

Annual Report 2008 - 2009


The Community Development Unit HIV and AIDS have affected a wide range of communities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) communities, sex workers, injecting drug users, people living with HIV, and family, friends and colleagues of people affected by HIV. Facilitating a connected and inclusive community response to HIV is one of the vital roles of the AIDS Action Council and the Community Development Unit. The communities we work with collectively have considerable skills, knowledge, networks and supporters. Our focus is on identifying and supporting these strengths, and not on what is perceived to be wrong or lacking. This is what makes our workshops, campaigns and social marketing projects different. We do not ‘preach’ to our communities and tell them what is best for them. Our goal is to link and share the resources and knowledge within the community itself. Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, our communities have banded together. The AIDS Action Council was created by community, and continues to be directed by community members.

Communities can decide what is best for them, and strength and resilience is evidenced by the successful response to HIV in Australia.

The Community Support Services Unit The primary aim of the Community Support Services Unit is to provide responsive and flexible services for people affected by HIV. These needs not only relate to their physiological health but also their mental, emotional and social wellbeing. Advances in knowledge and treatments, result in more people than ever before living with HIV in Australia. As people live longer lives, they face the development of issues relating to co-morbidities and ageing. However, there is a significant proportion of younger men who are newly diagnosed and come from a different generation and perspective; others are women, migrants and children. Some have haemophilia. All are unique. There is no doubt that the whole of

life needs of all people affected by HIV have changed in a very short period of time. It is imperative that services and programs change in synchronisation and not lag behind. Our role is to ensure that people have the best possible opportunities to achieve the best possible life outcomes. A shared community response must focus on a ‘living well’ philosophy that encompasses quality of life, opportunity, and choice, free from discrimination and systemic barriers. Community development and individualised professional services that are directed towards personal development, resilience, self-advocacy and self-determination are increasingly important. The AIDS

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AIDS Action Council

Action Council is working to face the challenges of the present and the future. The development of policies and procedures to address identified and emerging needs is another essential role to ensure the quality and efficacy of the services provided. One example is the current implementation of case management for those with multiple or complex needs. Besides the development and delivery of these types of ‘personfocussed’ services with individuals, families and local groups, the Unit has an important part to play in the strategic planning and development of appropriate mainstream services.

Annual Report 2008 - 2009


People Living with HIV/AIDS ACT (PLWHA ACT) PLWHA ACT is a peer based service that enables HIV positive people to help each other share experiences and live well. The service promotes a positive image of what it means to live with HIV, to people living with HIV and others in Canberra and surrounding areas. Focussing on social contact, we aspire to engage people on what it means to be living with HIV now and into the future.

provided for HIV positive people to be able to self advocate, improve their own health outcomes and live well. At the same time, we recognise that not every HIV positive person is the same and our support workers provide one to one peer support and assistance.

Through integration with other services offered at Westlund House Resource Centre, we encourage participation on all levels as a way forward in dealing with HIV issues, from a new diagnose to people living with HIV long term.

We encourage recognition that HIV positive people have a right to participate in service delivery and design and resources continue to be allocated to build capacity and flexibility within the service and for the future.

Through community development ideals, resources and programs are

Sex Worker Outreach Project SWOP works to empower sex workers and encourage sex workers to support and educate each other within their community. Brothel outreach is central to the AACâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sex worker project. The outreach team continue to access all operating studios delivering health promotion training, resources and listening to current concerns in the community.

SWOP is a peer-based project of the AIDS Action Council whose primary purpose is HIV/AIDS & STI prevention, education, advocacy & referral for sex workers in Canberra.

SWOP promotes sex industry work as a valid occupational choice, and encourages recognition of personal and occupational rights. To meet the health and wellbeing goals of the community, it is essential to make sure that workers can access health services, law enforcement, and participate generally in society without fear of discrimination or stigma. The sex worker community in Canberra is fortunately strong, resilient, colourful and diverse. SWOP continues to work effectively because it draws on these valuable community assets.

Westlund House Westlund House was named after John Westlund. He died with AIDS in 1994. He was a foundation member of the Council as well as its first employee. Remembered for his courage on the front line battling discrimination and fighting to make the lives of PLHIV visible in that horrific time before triple therapy arrived in 1995, his name is a potent reminder of how this Council emerged. Fast forward fifteen years and Westlund House is the home for a passionate team of people working on educating the Canberra community in preventing HIV transmission and supporting those affected by the virus. We maintain a safe space for PLHIV; our meeting room facilities are used weekly by diverse GLBT community groups; we maintain a technologically up to date and secure computer network which provides the latest software tools to assist our communication activities and we provide homes and resources for PLWHA ACT and the Sex Worker Outreach Project. The current team faces many of the same issues from Johnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time as an employee. Discrimination still exists. Homophobia and ignorance still exist. Competition for funding still exists. HIV transmission still happens. Westlund House remains the vital hub of the community response to HIV in the ACT. 9

AIDS Action Council

Annual Report 2008 - 2009


Programme Review Until thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a cure: Staying relevant

It has been a long time since HIV was the cause-du-jour in Australia. The media attention, celebrity endorsement and fundraising efforts towards HIV-related causes today pales in comparison to those in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Certainly in the mainstream psyche, HIV has long since faded away, even if stigma and fear towards HIV remains strong.

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AIDS Action Council

Annual Report 2008 - 2009


In the GLBT community too, HIV has lost much of its ability to arouse collective action. As HIV has transformed into a manageable chronic condition, it has become less of a factor in the lives of most PLHIV, and rightly so, and something disclosed to very few. But it also means that many are less likely to be aware of the extent of the HIV epidemic, and is a symptom of the stigma and discrimination that continues to pervade the community. Successful treatments have also meant that younger generations of the GLBT community are less likely to have HIV-positive friends and partners who have died. Most have not experienced the crisis that affected the community and the resulting response which created events such as Candlelight Memorial and World AIDS Day, and indeed the HIV response and the Council itself. How can we communicate the continued relevance of HIV, and of our organisation?

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is one of the AAC’s largest events. An extensive consultation considered the Council’s

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involvement and investment in the event, a conclusion being that for its survival it must find a new relevance for members of HIV-affected communities, yet keep true to the original impetus of the Memorial and the honouring of lives lost to the epidemic. To renew relevance of this Memorial, we used the theme “Together we are the solution: End HIV discrimination now” as a call to action, highlighting the specific discrimination against the HIV positive community and its effects. High profile entertainer and political activist Tobin Saunders gave a rousing keynote address to the largest audience attending in recent years. HIV treatments are a luxury that most of the world’s 38 million people living with HIV cannot afford, and most of the world faces a health crisis which is simply not reflected in Australia’s relatively contained epidemic. World AIDS Awareness Week, culminating in World AIDS Day on 1 December each year, is the best opportunity to raise mainstream awareness of HIV, especially for capitalising on media potential.

AIDS Action Council

Given the global nature of the week, and the opportunity for mainstream attention, we chose this year to raise awareness of the international epidemic, in particular the looming health disaster in one of Australia’s closest neighbours, Papua New Guinea. We highlighted the work of a new organisation supported by Australian AIDS councils, Igat Hope, and raised nearly $3,000 to directly support their work.

SpringOut Fairday is a valuable community development activity for the Council, supporting the community to which we belong; bringing together diverse community groups, organisations, services and individuals. It is a valuable opportunity for AAC and Westlund House to engage with community members and showcase our relevance. At Fairday 2008 – to an attendance of over 500 individuals – we promoted our new safe sex campaign (‘Up Ya Bum’) as well as the STRIP sexual health program, and our largest ever lesbian and bisexual women’s project, the

Snapshot Health and Wellbeing Survey.

Annual Report 2008 - 2009


Enabling a healthy community Health promotion is a key part of our work as we continue to engage with our communities and other organisations to promote health and wellbeing. A focus has always been the prevention of HIV transmission and minimising the impacts of HIV â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and it will continue to be our focus â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but to do this we need to look at the broader context of health and wellbeing within affected communities.

We responded to an outbreak of Syphilis, which apart from potential long term affects of Syphilis infection itself, also increases risk of HIV transmission. We identified low levels of screening for Syphilis as a key factor in its spread, and that many gay men and men-who-have-sexwith-men (MSM) are not being tested by doctors; indeed, many do not disclose or are not asked about their sexuality and sexual behaviour.

practitioners, and produced a supporting desk reference. With this ongoing partnership we are able to address some up-stream issues that impact on the syphilis outbreak and many of the other outcomes that stem from a difficulty to access health care. This same partnership has continued to run and develop another program making health care more accessible. The Partnership Approach to

Comprehensive Testing is better known under their STRIP and SWOP SHOP brands. These client oriented sexual health clinics make sexual health checkups quick and easy, are free and confidential, offered outside of business hours and are attended by nurses sensitive to our target groups. Our workshops are another means that we have used for many years to help build a supportive

This offered an opportunity to work with ACT Health and the ACT Division of General Practice to conduct a forum, Coming Out in the Consult, attracting 45 general

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AIDS Action Council

Annual Report 2008 - 2009


environment and increase personal skills. In the last year we ran six 12 hour workshops, a significant increase over previous years and possible because of the support of our volunteer program. We have opened up facilitator training to other community groups to support more workshops being offered. The demand for further workshops available in a wider range topics are in development. Developing a new relationships workshop required research and focus group testing with a mix of gay and bisexual men, single men, men in relationships and men of different ages. The new program will be piloted in the next year. Health promotion work involving people living with HIV is an area of our work that is growing. To minimise the impacts of HIV we have implemented a range of projects meeting different needs and audiences. To support people who have been recently diagnosed with HIV, Next Steps is a new resource developed by the AFAO/NAPWA Education Team. A very different resource is The Dirty Truth, targeted at highly sexually active PLHIV and uses humour and explicit imagery to convey its message on health issues.

HIV Balance is a national campaign

side effects of their ART and even increase their efficacy. This campaign is looking to be a catalyst for engaging the positive community with health promotion initiatives such as smoking cessation support, yoga, cooking classes amongst others. A series of posters and support materials were developed and promoted through PLWHA ACT activities, including Chinwag. This is a community forum hosted by Vanessa Wagner and Nurse Nancy for positive people, their friends, family and carers, presenting HIV information in a ‘chat show’ format. We have expanded our work with lesbian and bisexual women. More than 125 women completed the first Snapshot Lesbian Health Survey which will identify and report on current health and wellbeing needs of the community. The ‘Safe Sex Summer’ campaign reinforced the promotion of the research project, with specially designed women’s packs advertising the survey. Safe sex promotion is still a major area of our work, demonstrated by one of our biggest sexual health campaigns, Up Ya Bum. Three launches were held, each targeting different sections of the community, ultimately to promote safe sex and reduce unprotected anal intercourse. The launches were designed to produce community ‘buy-in’ of the campaign messages. This was

which aims to promote healthy changes positive people can make to reduce some of the negative

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AIDS Action Council

achieved by tying the launches in with community events, and using media which is appealing to the target audience and that they would want to take home and use on a daily basis (for example, calendars and bandanas). The largest launch targeted highly sexually active gay men, and was held during the SpringOut Festival in November. It included a series of seminars on esoteric sex safe practices and negotiation facilitated by Eagle Leather, and a large party held in conjunction with Cube Nightclub. Community participation was high, with over 500 people in attendance. The scale of the launch stretched our resources, but was again made possible by high volunteer engagement and partnerships. A more complex campaign has appeared in Fuse magazine and on websites including Gaydar and Manhunt. One of the messages is “If he has fucked without condoms since his last HIV test, he may have picked up, and be passing on HIV,” and is aimed at getting men to reconsider assumptions about the sero-status of their partner, and to identify seroconversion illness. Supporting the campaign is a booklet titled ‘Real Time’ which uses cognitive behaviour therapy to encourage gay men to make safer choices in their sexual behaviour.

Annual Report 2008 - 2009


Living well “The primary work of Westlund House Resource Centre is to provide support, resources, tools and skills to our clients and communities in order that they are as best equipped as possible to meet the challenges and events that life delivers, which would otherwise risk negative health outcomes.” Living well is the goal of all people but getting there is a journey taken in many different ways. Promotion of good health has always been a cornerstone of our work and one that the Living Well program aims to build on and acknowledge. Health for the GLBT community and people who identify with this community was quite absent amongst wider community health services until quite recently. With the formation in Canberra of the AIDS Action Council 25 years ago, a spot light has been shone on the, sometimes unique, requirements of whole of life community health which includes GLBT health. The Living Well program is based on a belief that health is not only about the body, but includes the heart, soul, mind, and even connections a person has to their community. A briefing paper set out the philosophical framework for all our work and the steps we need to take to recognise and build on previous work of the Council. A structure is being implemented to enable all programs, both new and existing, to be audited within the Living Well framework. This work is ongoing and involves the whole of agency, all of its programs and to benchmark all campaigns. Here are some of the services and programs that reflect the Living Well philosophy: The Stitch and Bitch project started during May 2009 and has been well attended throughout the current series. Taking place on a Thursday night between 6.30 and 8.30, Stitch and Bitch contributes to the wellness of gay men by fostering a sense of community belonging and a sympathetic, sensitive peer environment where topical matters are discussed. Meanwhile, Fresh Start is a quit smoking course for HIV

positive people run in conjunction with the Cancer Council of the ACT. Six people completed the course attending 4 x 2-hour sessions. A trained course leader, from the ACT Cancer Council, discussed the essential strategies to help people overcome their smoking addiction. Video and written materials were used along with informal group discussion to help people understand why they smoke, what part smoking plays in their life, how to change behaviour and strategies for quitting for good. Love Your Liver Lunch is for HIV positive people to provide the latest information about healthy eating and keeping a healthy liver. This event was subsidised with a grant from the Hepatitis Resource Centre of the ACT. Another new service commencing during 2008 – 2009 is a free Legal Clinic. This service is offered to our members and communities to encourage interaction with legal matters in a friendly and supportive way.

“From family concerns to issues in the workplace; from having children to dealing with immigration, these concerns and many more impact on the health and wellbeing of the communities which the AIDS Action Council and Westlund House serve: people living with HIV and their friends and families, sex workers and their clients, and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities”. “As with your personal health it’s wise to stay in touch with your legal fitness, after all, living well into the future is all about planning today.” The legal clinic is very popular and is running every fortnight with an average of 3 to 4 clients per session. Its introduction was a timely addition to our services with new issues around same sex law reform and in particular, changes to Centrelink partnership rules with the uncertainties that these produced. A range of discounted vitamins to the PLHIV community to live well and assist with their health management is delivered through our Vitamin Service. This service is subsidised by the Trevor Daley Fund in recognition of the ongoing costs associated with maintaining health for HIV positive people. Contributing further to supporting optimum health is the Dietician Clinic. Providing a professional HIV specific dietician service to HIV positive people on a 14

AIDS Action Council

quarterly basis, Jenny McDonald is the Dietician in attendance and we thank Merck Sharp & Dohme for their support of this project throughout the year.

The Westlund House Access Program enables community groups, at no cost, to use Westlund House Resource Centre for meetings and events and encourages people to connect in a safe neutral space that allows self catering with the use of kitchen facilities and a range of meetings spaces. Produced to answer questions and help with community knowledge about community health issues are Community Up-Dates. We have produced these for the PLHIV community, specific themed volunteer meetings (same sex law

Annual Report 2008 - 2009


Contents

President’s Message 3 General Manager’s Report 4 Overview 5 The HIV Epidemic 5 People Living with HIV (PLHIV) 6 Organisation Development 6 Organisation 7 The Community Development Unit 8 The Community Support Services Unit 8 People Living with HIV/AIDS ACT (PLWHA ACT) 9 PSex Worker Outreach Project 9 Westlund House 9 Programme Review 10 Enabling a healthy community 12 Living well  14

reform issues, mental health community discussion, Alzheimer’s Association) and in postings to ACT Queer concerning community health and well being issues. In response to Same Sex Law Reform information, we have actively updated the community with information about significant changes in the law, particularly around Centrelink issues and the changes to take place from 1 July 2009;

“From 1 July 2009 changes to Commonwealth legislation mean that a definition of “de facto relationship” will replace the definition of “marriage-like” relationship. Most importantly, the new definition of “de facto” relationship will include same-sex couples. This means that a person may be considered to be in a de facto relationship whatever the gender of their partner.” Fair Day provides a space for our many and diverse communities to come together and celebrate what community means and to showcase resources, connect with other communities as well as generate new members where appropriate. Both AAC and PLWHA ACT have been given Authorised Visitor Status to the recently opened ACT prison; The Alexander Maconochie Centre. This is the first such facility in Australia to be planned within human rights principles. Authorised Visitor Status allows us to provide ongoing meaningful assistance to members of our communities in need. We also provide input through the

Community Corrections Coalition.

“The ACT Community Corrections Coalition is a coalition of agencies and individuals that have a direct interest in corrections and particularly the ACT Prison Project (Alexander Maconochie Centre), its planning, operation and performance in meeting the goals and objectives set out by the ACT government.” ANU Medical Students are provided an opportunity by the Australian National University Medical School to hear directly from PLHIV about living with HIV, side effects of medication and the psycho social impact of living with a long term chronic illness. We continue to work in partnership with other agencies and community groups to provide varied services which meet the needs of individuals and groups to live well. Now and into the future we will continue to seek community involvement and feedback constructively adding to the evolvement of this philosophy that the;

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AIDS Action Council

Annual Report 2008 - 2009


Thanks To... ACON

Goodman Law

ACT Cancer Council

Greater Southern Area Health Service

ACT Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services

Greg Barnes

ACT Division of General Practice

Harris Technology

ACT Health

Herm Legal and Migration Services

ACT Hepatitis Resource Centre

High Country Meats

ACT Legislative Assembly

Hush Nightclub

ACT Office for Women

Ian Rankin

ACT Outdoors Group

Impact Comics

ACTCOSS

Interchange General Practice

ACTQueer

Jennifer Hume

Alive Health and Fitness

Jenny McDonald

All Saints Anglican Church, Ainslie

John Davey

Alzheimer’s Australia ACT

John Fulcher

Amanda Bresnan

Kennard’s Hire

Andrew Barr

Kwik Kopy Canberra

Ansell International

Liaison Officers Network (GLLO)

ANU Medical School

Manhunt

AON Risk Services Australia Ltd

Manuka Traders’ Association

Ashley Flynn

Melissa Tetley

Australian Federal Police Gay and Lesbian

Merck Sharp & Dohme Australia

Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations

Mest Hair

Bears Canberra

MIEACT

Bent Lenses

Mimi Club

Bit Bent

Money Mechanics

BrandNet

Nancy Cogan

Brett Beadle

NAPWA

Brett Goshorn

National Capital Authority

Canberra Gay and Lesbian Tennis Club

National Museum of Australia

Canberra Men’s Centre

Nik Studio

Canberra Milk

Northside Studios

Canberra Sexual Health Centre

Ozcots

Canberra Transgender Network

Pretty Women

Champions Mustang Ranch

Queanbeyan Indigenous Coordination Centre

Chrisindy’s

Rape Crisis Centre

Cocksox

Robert Johnson

Corrections ACT

Scarlet Alliance

Cube Nightclub

SCOPE Youth Service

Design A Bunch

Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT

Directions ACT

SpringOut

DNA Magazine

Sue Driscoll

Dowlings Canberra Pty Ltd

Teatro Vivaldi Restaurant

Eagle Leather

The Bookshop Darlinghurst

Electric Shadows Bookshop

TheContactGroup

Extreme Marquees

Tobin Saunders

Fernmark Inn

Touch of Class

Fuse Magazine

Victorian AIDS Council

Gaydar.com.au

Victorian AIDS Council

Gel Works Pty Ltd

Woden Youth Centre

Glyde Health

Youth Coalition of the ACT

GoConnect

YWCA Canberrac

Hardwicke’s Chartered Accountants

AIDS ACTION COUNCIL OF THE ACT

aidsaction.org.au

GPO Box 229 Canberra ACT 2601 T: 02 6257 2855 F: 02 6257 4838

Annual Report 2008 - 2009

AIDS Action Council Annual Report 2008-2009  
AIDS Action Council Annual Report 2008-2009  

Annual Report of the AIDS Action Council of the ACT

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