Thursday 14 May 2015

Candlelight memorial 2015

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is celebrated around the world every year to commemorate those we've lost to AIDS, and draw attention to the challenges HIV still presents.

This year, the theme, 'Supporting the future', highlights the need for sustained investment in HIV prevention and treatments access at a time when the technologies exist to turn the epidemic around and ending HIV is more of a possibility than ever before.

The theme also highlights the vital importance of continuing to promote the human rights of affected populations to ensure their needs are addressed in the HIV response.

Even if you don't attend a Candlelight event, this time of year is an opportunity for reflection. For example, Melbourne's LGBTI radio station Joy FM 94.9, Living Positive Victoria and the Victorian AIDS Council put together an inspiring ten minute radio program, in which people living with and affected by HIV talk about what it means to 'support the future'.

Listen here

We also asked some of our members and partners around Australia to tell us what the memorial means to them.

Make sure you scroll right to the end of the post to see the slideshow.

Izaac Buckley

NAPWHA Community Representative for West Australian PLHIV and Community Events Coordinator

1. Why is Candlelight important to you?

Although I personally haven't lost a loved one from AIDS, I do know that I am not immune to the effects these kinds of losses have on the community.

When I was diagnosed with HIV I felt an incredible loss of my own, and as the coordinator for this year's Candlelight Vigil in Western Australia I want to take this opportunity to help give back to those who have lost so much.

To me candlelight represents Hope, and Courage.

2. What does this year's international theme 'Supporting the future' mean to you?

The future IS the home we will all live in. The future is the consequence of our actions today.

I encourage respect for those who have paved the way for us, and who have done their best to keep that path lit. I want to help carry that light as we all move forward. Reading from the past, and writing for the future.

3. What's happening in your city or state that you'd like people to know about?

Here in Perth, we are holding our International Candle Light Vigil at the AIDS Memorial in Robertson Park.

We have a number of guest speakers, and we aim to provide more than just an opportunity for those who want to pay their respects, and to remember those that they have lost.

For those who are still living, this day, this anniversary is another milestone on their journey of moving forward.

More info

Kim Davis

Mother, grandmother, living with HIV, artist and creative director of Positively Fabulous, Board Director, Living Positive Victoria

1. Why is Candlelight important to you?

Candlelight commemorates all the people who have fought and died, all the amazing people living with HIV who are still fighting to educate, to prevent further infection, to STOP discrimination and stigma, to tell their story, to be autonomous. I remember friends who have died. Remember that I still have friends who'll die because of the same reasons.

2. What does this year's international theme 'Supporting the future' mean to you?

'Women's Autonomy' - that is what this year's international theme 'Supporting the future' means to me. Globally over 50% of all HIV infections are women. Women are part of the solution; we have our own narrative which enriches the HIV dialogue.

3. What's happening in your city or state that you'd like people to know about?

Please join me at the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial on Sunday, 17 May at 5pm, at City Square on the corner of Collins and Swanston.

Women's rights champion and HIV activist, Dr Alyson Campbell, will be the keynote speaker, and John Manwaring and I will be speaking about our experiences living with HIV. The Low Rez Male Choir will add a musical dimension.

More info:

Andy Ewing

Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council

1. Why is Candlelight important to you?

I feel it is an opportunity to stop and reflect. We live such busy lives and the vigil gives me a chance to remember those who have passed, those who paved the way and that seemingly apocalyptic time when people were dying around me, around us all, and how we sort of coped and came through…

2. What does this year's international theme 'Supporting the future' mean to you?

The moment is now, and this generates what is possible in the future. Building a future that is bright and full of hope.

3. What's happening in your state that you'd like people to know about?

There's a Candlelight Vigil next to Lake Alexander in Darwin. We'll enjoy a gentle seabreeze at Sunset, listening to two of the Top End's best singers, Shellie Morris and Dave Garnham playing acoustic heartfelt ballads. They'll be followed by a screening of 'Transmission: A journey from AIDS to HIV'.

Shellie Morris.

In Alice Springs, people will gather at Witchetty's Art Space to hear Bec Matthews play her original, world fusion music. Transmission will be screened here as well.

More info at:

Nic Parkhill

Chief Executive Officer, ACON

Nic Parkhill
On the 17th of May our communities will join together for the Candlelight Memorial to commemorate and honour those whose lives have been lost to HIV. Together with World AIDS Day this poignant remembrance event has become a key focal point for the LGBTI community across the world.

On a personal level it is one of the biggest and most important events for me.  Not only does the Candlelight Memorial provide an opportunity to remember loved ones but it also serves to look to the future as we work together to end HIV transmission here in NSW, in Australia and indeed throughout the world.

The Candlelight Memorial is the oldest organised movement for HIV/AIDS awareness in the world and now plays a crucial global role in raising awareness about HIV and addressing stigma and discrimination.

This year we are delighted that Tommy Murphy, associate producer of the upcoming film of Timothy Conigrave's iconic memoir Holding the Man, will give the memorial address at the Eternity Playhouse, Darlinghurst on Sunday 17 May at 3.00pm.

More info:

Keiran Rossteuscher

AIDS Action Council ACT

1. Why is Candlelight important to you?

It can be hard to connect the lived experience of HIV today in Australia with what it was like so many years ago. Canberra's International AIDS Candlelight Memorial brings these together in a way few other events can.

It reminds us of how much was fought for, how many people were hurt, how far we have come and what we have to keep fighting for.

2. What does this year's international theme 'Supporting the future' mean to you?

It means looking to what can be possible and ensuring that we don't stop fighting for:

  • A world without fear and stigma of HIV.
  • A world where all people have access to appropriate testing, treatments, healthcare, education and support services.

It is a world with thriving leaders from key affected populations. It could even be a world eventually free from HIV and AIDS.

3. What's happening in your city or state that you'd like people to know about?

An opportunity to formally remember those who have gone too soon, and continue the legacy of more than 31 years of international HIV activism by committing to a future free from the grief and stigma of the past.

Please join us for Canberra's International AIDS Candlelight Memorial in the Great Hall of University House (1 Balmain Crescent) at the Australian National University from 5:30pm.

Hosted by 666 ABC's Alex Sloan, speakers will include ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Professor John Dwyer, AO, from UNSW and HIV Advocate Abby Landy.

Moving performances will be delivered by the Canberra Gay & Lesbian Qwire and ANU School of Music cellist Harry Hall. A light supper will be provided after.

More info:

We hope you enjoyed reading these reflections. What does the Candlelight Memorial mean to you?


  1. I will be at the Candlelight ceremony at Te Marae at Te Papa tomorrow, singing Waiata with Ti Whanawhana

    1. We hope it went well Paul, thanks for your comment.

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