Monday 13 August 2012

AFAO's message of appreciation for Healthy Communities

Cuts to the funding of Queensland Association of Healthy Communities (QAHC) sexual health, HIV and LGBT drug & aclohol programs take effect from Friday 17 August. 

The organisation will lose 22 staff, including all staff of the sexual health program, and close its Maroochydore office.

In a letter to supporters  Healthy Communities  Executive Director, Paul R Martin thanked all the departing staff "for their dedication and hard work in promoting the health and wellbeing of the LGBT community over the years. ... All will be deeply missed."

Healthy Communities will continue to deliver HIV & STI prevention services for gay men, funded by organisations like the AIDS Trust of Australia, Martin said. A series of community meetings will inform people about changes to  Healthy Communities  and seek suggestions for the future. Contact QAHC for details.

Download Healthy Communities Media Release 17 August

AFAO has sent a message of appreciation to Healthy Communities' staff. This is reproduced below.

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the AFAO's staff, Board and membership, I'm writing to convey our collective commiserations on the defunding of Healthy Communities and the consequent loss of your jobs, and to offer our sincere and heart-felt appreciation for the sterling efforts that the staff and volunteers of Healthy Communities have contributed to the Australian HIV response.

You all should be extremely proud of the work that you and your colleagues have done over the years. The conservative political and social environment of Queensland, undeservedly often portrayed in flippant terms from other parts of Australia, is no doubt an extremely difficult environment in which to progress the health and human rights of LGBTI people and communities.

Throughout the course of the HIV epidemic, QAHC's tireless efforts to address the myriad health and human needs of the Queensland LGBTI communities have so often been stifled and stamped on by the narrow-mindedness of homophobia, transphobia, political expediency and electoral conservatism - even during the state's more progressive years. However, QAHC has time and again stepped up against all the odds and repeatedly come out a shining example of what guts, gumption and level-headedness-together with a twist of 'gay creativity' - can achieve.

Indeed, history will undoubtedly note that some of the more astounding and memorable moments in the history of HIV in Australia were born out of such tenacious creativity in the face of adversity - from convincing nuns to smuggle government funds to your organisation in brown paper bags under their habits in the 1980s, to the no-less-magical act of turning 'horrendous press' into 'FABULOUS press' in both the 1995 Bubble Boy Cards and the 2011 Rip 'n' Roll media brouhahas, just to name just but two.

On behalf of Australia's community-based HIV response, your AFAO colleagues, present and past, I want to take this opportunity to thank every one of you for the commitment, loyalty, intelligence and invention that you've brought to the HIV cause over the years. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed and will be sadly missed, not just by the Queenslanders you so faithfully served, but by LGBTI people across Australia.

We wish each of you all the best in finding rewarding and fulfilling employment in the future-and here's hoping that this time a significant part of that reward is also in the pay-packet.

Warm and sincere regards,

AFAO Staff, Board and Members

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