8 Mar 2018
HIV community mourns the loss of Tony Maynard
Today, the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) has lost a longstanding and dedicated champion in the response to HIV and AIDS with the passing of Tony Maynard. Serving on the current VAC board, Tony’s longstanding commitment to addressing HIV in Australia goes back over 30 years — as does his involvement with VAC. Tony served at VAC’s first Treatments Officer during the height of the epidemic.
Tony was passionate about ensuring no one was left behind in the HIV response and that everyone could access the treatment, care and support they needed. Tony served at the Senior Education Officer at the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM). He worked with ACON in the Enhanced Primary Care Project as well as with the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) as their Treataware Project Officer. He also worked together with pharmaceutical companies to help bring vital HIV drugs to market in Australia.
With an established focus on HIV treatment throughout his career, Tony was excited to join the VAC board at a time when biomedical prevention’s role in ending HIV was being fully realised with the introduction of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and the impact of an undetectable viral load in people living with HIV.
In the 1990s, Tony’s work in the PLWHA program when deaths from AIDS were a weekly, sometimes daily, occurrence was characterised by sensitivity, care, generosity of spirit and genuine regard for the clients — many of whom were friends of Tony’s from the community. He could often be seen sharing a meal or a coffee with clients, talking through treatment options and encouraging people to never give up hope - often in the face of seriously debilitating illness and the tragic reality of facing death. For his own part, he never allowed the toll of the epidemic to show, always cheerful with a wicked sense of humour he was always ready with a smile and a welcome, no matter how difficult the circumstances or the issues he was facing with his clients and friends.
Looking back on his career, a colleague recounted how Tony assisted a young HIV positive couple to access vertical transmission prophylaxis, prior to the publication of the landmark study, so that they had a healthy, HIV negative baby. In a world before the internet, knowing that this information was out there before publication was truly remarkable. Tony was incredibly knowledgable and he genuinely cared about people.
“Today, we lost piece of our history and our legacy,” said VAC CEO Simon Ruth. “As a community-led organisation, we are indebted to LGBTI community elders like Tony who have stayed with us — from our formation in response to HIV through to our current battles to ensuring the ongoing health and wellbeing of our LGBTI communities.”
VAC President Chad Hughes added, “Tony brought a wealth of experience and wisdom to VAC. His legacy is woven into the fabric of so many of the organisations that played a vital role in the Australian response to HIV and AIDS. We will miss his unwavering dedication but will feel the impact of his valuable contribution in perpetuity.”
9 Feb 2018
National access to breakthrough HIV prevention drug to become a reality in Australia
9 February 2018 - The Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) welcomes today’s announcement that the Pharmaceutical Benefit Advisory Committee (PBAC) is recommending pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) — making this gamechanging tool for HIV prevention accessible across Australia. Globally, PrEP has proved to be highly effective at preventing the acquisition of HIV. In May 2016, the Therapeutic Goods Administration approved PrEP for use in Australia, but the drug remained expensive to acquire. Meanwhile, demonstration trials launched across Australia to make PrEP available to those communities most at risk of acquiring HIV. These trials have played an important role in making PrEP accessible until it could be listed on the PBS, but with each state independently launching trials, access has been inconsistent nationally. “There’s no doubt that PrEP is a highly effective tool in HIV prevention. The challenge has been making sure it’s accessible and affordable,” said VAC President Chad Hughes. “Today’s decision allows for a way forward, to fully realise PrEP’s potential in helping us see a future with no new transmissions of HIV in Australia.” Victoria has seen a significant community interest in PrEP in recent years and VAC has worked alongside community organisations, researchers, politicians, and consumer groups to work toward making this important HIV prevention tool within reach. VAC CEO Simon Ruth remarked, “The community demand for PrEP is undeniable. Victoria’s PrEP-X trial became one of the fastest enrolled PrEP trials in the world and has seen the trial expand into South Australia and Tasmania. The communities we’re working with have made it clear that they want to be able to look after their sexual health. PrEP allows them to do so with confidence.” The Australian Government has previously committed to adding PrEP to the PBS following a positive recommendation from PBAC.
“We commend the Australian Government on their standing commitment to add PrEP to the PBS in a timely manner following the PBAC recommendation. This demonstrates a firm commitment to seeing an end to HIV in Australia,” Mr Ruth added.
“Today’s announcement is reflective of Australia’s history in responding to HIV and AIDS - community led organisations working alongside clinicians, researchers, and government for a way forward. We applaud the efforts of AFAO, as well as community advocates like PrEP’d For Change and PrEP Access Now that have furthered the dialogue around PrEP and that have empowered the community to advocate for this breakthrough prevention tool.”
29 Jan 2018
VAC mourns the loss of passionate harm reduction giant Jenny Kelsall
Longstanding advocate for harm reduction approaches to drug use, Jenny Kelsall, passed on Saturday marking the loss of dedicated community leader with an extensive career that contributed to the development of programs and services that support the community response to HIV and other blood borne viruses.
Most recently, Jenny served as the Executive Officer for Harm Reduction Victoria where she encouraged safer drug use and empowered drug users to find solutions and strategies for the better part of the past decade. Prior to that, she served for several years as part of a multi-discipline research team at the Burnet Institute, a team who was the first to identify a hepatitis C epidemic among people who inject drugs in Australia.
Having worked closely with Jenny over the years, VAC President Chad Hughes was saddened by the news and acknowledged her incredible contribution.
“Jenny was completely dedicated to the people she served. She committed herself tirelessly to ensuring evidence based harm reduction was available to people who use drugs both here in Victoria, and elsewhere. She was incredibly bright and steadfast in her advocacy fighting for the health and welfare rights of the community,” he said.
“She demonstrated how, by opening her heart and making personal sacrifices, she could make a tremendous contribution that benefited the lives of many. I’m a better person for knowing her — as are countless others.”
Her legacy includes an incredible portfolio of peer-based research and education initiatives across Australia and Asia in the areas of HIV, viral hepatitis & injecting drug use spanning over nearly three decades.
VAC CEO Simon Ruth said, “Jenny’s legacy serves as a reminder of the strength of a community-led response in the face of Herculean challenges such as HIV and viral hepatitis. Her collaborative approach ceaselessly worked toward bringing drug law and national policies in line with public health objectives.”
12 Jan 2018
Melbourne Gay Community Periodic Survey back for 2018 at Midsumma Carnival
The Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) along with the Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH) and the Kirby Institute at UNSW will be conducting the Melbourne Gay Community Periodic Survey (MGCPS) during the first week of the Midsumma Festival, this annual survey takes a snapshot of sexual practices men who have sex with other men in relation to the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
From Sunday 14 January at the 2018 Midsumma Carnival Day through Sunday 21 January, gay and bisexual men who have sex with men (MSM) will be asked to participate in the survey at a range of locations across Melbourne, including medical clinics, social venues such as pubs and bars, and sex-on-premises venues. Only Melbourne men who have had sex with another man in the past five years should complete a survey form, as well as men who don’t live in Melbourne but who regularly participate in the Melbourne gay community. The survey is completely anonymous, and the results are communicated later in the year via LGBTI and other media, through public meetings and seminars, in online reports, and through journal articles.
First conducted in Melbourne in 1998, the short survey takes a snapshot of gay men’s sexual practices related to the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. The survey is important because it gives a snapshot of the lives of gay and homosexually active men in Melbourne from year to year. It allows comparisons to be made over time and for a picture to emerge of the changes in sexual practices and partnering habits, drug use, HIV and STI rates, and testing habits.
The Periodic Survey is also conducted in other states during gay community festivals so that comparisons can be drawn between states. Data from the surveys are used to form local and national sexual health promotion campaigns and education strategies.
“All same-sex attracted guys are welcome to complete this annual survey — gay, bi, trans and non-binary both HIV negative and HIV Positive,” said the survey’s Victorian coordinator, VAC’s Tex McKenzie.
“New questions added this year include adding the gender assigned at birth and a question asking if participants have been vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B. And not all questions need to be answered by everyone; there are specific questions for men who are living with HIV as well as general questions that everyone can answer.”
VAC CEO Simon Ruth added: “The Periodic Survey is an important piece of research that helps us target not only campaigns around HIV and STI-prevention, but around mental health issues and alcohol and drug use in our community as well.”
“The data we gather from the survey over time is an invaluable resource for both state-based and national campaigns.”
16 Oct 2017
HIV and AIDS sector mourns the loss of activist and visionary leader Levinia Crooks
Tireless HIV/AIDS activist, researcher, mentor and visionary, Levinia Crooks died in Sydney on Sunday evening after a long battle with illness.
Levinia’s work in HIV/AIDS has spanned the epidemic in this country. Levinia was the first Executive Officer for the National Association of People Living with AIDS (NAPWA, later to become NAPWHA) and she was the President of the AIDS Council of New South Wales (ACON) from 1988 – 1989 and 1991 – 1992. Levinia was also instrumental in the work of the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation (BGF), one of Australia’s longest running HIV and AIDS charities. Typical of her no nonsense, practical approach to issues, she has spoken on the need for such a charity in the early days of the epidemic, “In an environment like that you have to act. It is wrong that you have to act, it is wrong that you have to establish a parallel process. But there is a period of time in which you do have to do that.” BGF continues its important work to this day.
For the last 18 years Levinia held the position of Chief Executive Officer of the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM). During her tenure Levinia elevated the profile and breadth of ASHM through her professionalism, research insight and overall vision of the role the organisation would play both nationally and in the region.
“It is probably difficult to think of another person who has had the kind of influence that Levinia has had over the course of the last three decades of the epidemic,” said Chad Hughes, VAC President.
“Her career began at a time when there was little hope for people living with HIV and she was instrumental, not only in the areas of care and support for people living with HIV and AIDS but at important moments in prevention such as her role in the drafting of national guidelines for the provision of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).”
“Levinia’s commitment to the work of HIV and AIDS activism ranged from her roles in community based organisations, direct contact and care for people living with HIV and AIDS to high level collaboration with researchers, politicians and policy makers to advance HIV medicine in this country and the care and support of people living with the virus,” said Simon Ruth, VAC CEO.
“The range of Levinia’s research interests is formidable. She contributed to work on counselling, service capacity, combination therapy, health promotion and HIV and the law,” added Chad Hughes.
“At every level, her contribution furthered debate in substantive and important ways. Her leadership legacy is one of partnership, collaboration, vision and courage and in many ways she will be impossible to replace.”
4 Sep 2017
VAC encourages the LGBTI community to look after their wellbeing with ‘Equality Mixtape’
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
4 SEPTEMBER 2017 - In the face of the public debate around marriage equality, the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) is calling out for suggestions to add to the ‘Equality Mixtape’ on social media. The fun and collaborative initiative is being used to encourage the community members to take a moment out of their day to enjoy a ‘pride’ anthem.
Following some of the negative messaging aimed at LGBTI communities during the ongoing debate around marriage equality and the impending postal survey, the ‘Equality Mixtape’ initiative aims to bring the LGBTI community together to share their favourite music as well as fond memories linked with some of the pride anthems. Everyday until the end of the postal survey, VAC will be posting another track on social media and invite the community to take five minutes out of their day to let go and enjoy the music.
“With the Marriage Equality debate bringing out a lot of negative sentiments it has been an emotionally taxing time for a lot people. We wanted to send out some positive energy, and long before we were depicted in movies and television, the LGBTI community has found our own stories in music. ” said VAC CEO Simon Ruth.
“Music has been an outlet for our community to find escape, build resilience, and celebrate with pride in the face of hard times. We’re hoping to continue that tradition, and share some feel good stories along the way.”
Started as a small social initiative amongst staff, VAC is now encouraging members, volunteers, and the broader community to submit songs and stories via VAC’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. A selection of the submitted songs will be shared on social media as well as being played during Well, Well, Well on Monday from 8PM on JOY 94.9.
Song suggestions for the ‘Equality Mixtape’ and accompanying stories can be submitted via Facebook or Twitter #EqualityMixtape
For more information, contact:Liam ClarkMedia Officercommunications@vac.org.au(03) 9865 6700
29 Aug 2017
More than 35 national health organisations unite for equal marriage
36 leading national health organisations have called on the Federal Government to put an end to marriage discrimination and legislate for marriage equality.
More than 35 leading health organisations across the nation have united together and called on the Federal Government to legislate for marriage equality and put an end to marriage discrimination.
Tiernan Brady, Executive Director, The Equality Campaign welcomed the statement, “It’s easy in the middle of all the politics to forget what or rather who this is about.
“Marriage equality is about real people, our friends and family, teammates and work colleagues who just want the same dignity as everyone else in their families. This statement by so many groups representing the people who take care of the health and well being of all Australians is an important and timely reminder of this.
“Our laws should never deliberately marginalize and exclude one group of people. It is time for our politicians to do their job and pass marriage equality. Our family and friends deserve better” Tiernan Brady continued.
Nicolas Parkhill, CEO of ACON said, “There is conclusive evidence that LGBTI people experience higher levels of depression, anxiety disorders, self-harm, suicidal ideation and suicide compared to the general population because of stigma, prejudice,discrimination and exclusion. These health conditions are exacerbated by the ongoing marriage equality debate in this country. This protracted discourse is harming people, creating segregation and contributing to poorer health outcomes.
“We call on our elected representatives to recognise the negative health consequences of marriage discrimination, to legislate for marriage equality and to improve the health and wellbeing of LGBTI Marriage equality is beyond politics – real people, Australian families, dignity and importantly, health, are at the centre of this issue” Nicholas Parkhill said.
“The Marriage Equality debate is harming the health and wellbeing of Australians. We do not need to debate any longer. We do not need a $160 million plebiscite. What we need is to treat LGBTI Australians with the same dignity and equal rights as everyone else,” Simon Ruth, CEO, Victorian AIDS Council.
“Young people overwhelmingly support marriage equality and tell us it’s a really important issue to them. For ReachOut, supporting marriage equality is a ‘no brainer’," ReachOut CEO, Jono Nicholas said.
For information on the LGBTI communities’ response to the senate inquiry that provides a cross-party pathway for marriage equality go to: http://www.equalitycampaign.org.au/welcome-senate-report
MEDIA: Clint McGilvray 0413 285 186
Leading Health Organisations on the United Statement for Marriage Equality
ACON HealthAIDS Action Council of the ACT (AACACT)Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM)Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO)Australian Healthcare and Hospitals AssociationAustralian Lesbian Medical AssociationAustralian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF)Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA)Australian Women’s Health NetworkBlack Dog InstituteCentre for Culture, Ethnicity & HealthChronic Illness AlliancecohealthDrummond Street ServicesEACH Social and Community HealthFamily Planning Alliance AustraliaFamily Planning NSWFamily Planning TasmaniaFamily Planning VICFamily Planning Welfare Association Northern TerritoryHeadspaceLife Without BarriersMental Health AustraliaMental Health First AidMIND AustraliaThe Equality Campaign is the national campaign to win marriage for all Australians through a vote in Parliament.Neami NationalNorthern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council (NTAHC)Public Health Association of AustraliaQueensland AIDS Council (QuAC)ReachOut.comRelationships AustraliaSexual Health Quarters (i.e Family Planning WA)Shine SA (i.e. Family Planning SA)Tasmanian council on AIDS Hepatitis and Related Diseases (TasCHARD)Victorian AIDS Council (VAC)Western Australian AIDS Council (WAAC)
24 Jul 2017
2017 Melbourne Gay Periodic Survey Results
The results of this year’s Melbourne Gay Community Periodic Survey demonstrate a growing community confidence in the efficacy of biomedical HIV prevention strategies amongst gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). This includes a nearly threefold increase in the uptake of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and over 97% of men living with HIV on treatment having achieved an undetectable viral load (UVL). The 2017 results also recorded the highest ever level of HIV testing which has increased over time to 90% of men in the survey - continuing the upward trend over the last several years.
Conducted by the Centre for Social Research in Health at UNSW, the 2017 survey captured the responses of 2,956 gay men and other MSM to a broad set of questions related to sex, relationships and sexual health.
The proportion of men using PrEP increased from 6% in 2016 to 16% in 2017, with most of the men on PrEP in the 2017 survey (84%) obtaining it from a research study or trial. In Victoria, PrEP has been made available through the PrEP-X study, sponsored by the Victorian Government, Alfred Health, and the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC).
VAC CEO Simon Ruth said that these findings add momentum to prevention efforts across the community.
“This is further evidence that when it comes to HIV prevention, gay men are at the forefront in protecting themselves and others. When taken consistently, PrEP is proven to be close to 99% effective at preventing HIV.”
“What we need now is for the Commonwealth to list PrEP on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme as soon as is possible to ensure all people at risk of HIV can benefit.”
Over 99% of men living with HIV in the survey reported being on HIV treatment and over 97% of those men in treatment having an undetectable viral load – meaning they are not infectious and cannot pass on HIV.
“HIV positive men are playing a substantial role in the low rates of new HIV infections by working to maintain an undetectable viral load,” said Brent Allan, CEO of Living Positive Victoria.
“There is increasing evidence that UVL amongst men living with HIV will be a key factor in the decline of new diagnoses in Australia.”
The majority (87.7%) of HIV positive men who have condomless sex with casual partners reported UVL as their primary risk reduction strategy.
“Biomedical HIV prevention tools mean that safe, condomless sex is possible; however, PrEP and UVL won’t protect people from other STIs so it’s important that sexually active men test regularly to maintain their sexual health and wellbeing,” Mr Ruth said.
The 2017 survey results around testing are encouraging with 77% of men testing for HIV in the previous 12 months (the highest level recorded in the survey) and an increase in the proportion of men reporting 3 or more HIV tests in the previous year (30% in 2017). Over 92% of men living with HIV reported an STI test in the previous 12 months, and STI testing amongst HIV negative men is continuing to rise with nearly 78% having tested in the past 12 months.
13 Jul 2017
New campaign to address risky drinking behaviours amongst LBQ women in regional Victoria as part of VicHealth initiative
Through VicHealth’s Alcohol Culture Change Initiative, the Victorian AIDSCouncil (VAC) will be leading a two-year project to address potentially risky drinkingbehaviours amongst lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ) women living in regional Victoria.Aimed to increase social support for low-risk drinking and reduce the impact of alcohol, theproject will receive over $200,000 to develop and implement a health promotion campaignaimed at creating a culture of support and encouragement to reduce risky drinking in fourregional areas of Victoria including Bendigo, Ballarat, Morwell, and Geelong.
VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said, “We know that one-size doesn’t fit all – Victoria is a diversestate with many drinking cultures. These new projects will target groups of people mostlikely to drink at risky levels.”
VAC CEO Simon Ruth said, “We know that drinking behaviours amongst same sex attractedwomen pose considerable risks to their ongoing health and wellbeing. This funding willallow us to expand upon our existing services to reach those women in regional centres, andchallenge some assumed social norms and attitudes around drinking by encouraging positivebehaviour change and peer support.”
The project aims to establish focus groups from its four key regional centres to consult inthe development of a social marketing campaign. Furthermore, the project will work closelywith LBQ women’s community networks and health service providers in regional settingsand raise awareness of risky behaviours and support pathways.
“As a community-led organisation, lesbian, bisexual, and queer women have played animportant role in VAC’s work since it’s very founding. That tradition will carry on as thisproject aims to understand and influence the values, attitudes and beliefs of LBQ womenand their support networks of friends, family, and co-workers,” said Ruth.
Rechter added, “This initiative is about people socially supporting one another to reducehigh risk drinking, resulting in reduced harm for themselves, their family and friends, thosein the vicinity and the broader community.”
For more information on VicHealth’s Alcohol Change Initiative, go to: www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/programs-and-projects/alcohol-culture-change-initiative
28 Jun 2017
Victoria’s new HIV Strategy emphasises the importance of a community-led response
28 JUNE 2017 - The Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) welcomes the Andrews Government’s announcement of Victoria’s HIV strategy for 2017-2020 - setting the bar higher as we approach the global targets of 90-90-90 in HIV diagnosis, treatement, and viral suppression and recognising the importance of the community-controlled response in reaching those goals.
Announced this morning by Minister for Health, the Hon Jill Hennessy, the plan aims to renew and reaffirm Victoria’s commitment to the vital elimination of new HIV transmissions by 2020 by working closely with those communities most affected.
“We applaud the Government on their dedication to working with the community-controlled organisations in the ongoing response to HIV in Victoria,” said VAC CEO Simon Ruth. “This plan recognises that HIV affects a broad range of people, including women and members of the trans and gender diverse community, as well as acknowledges that HIV continues to disproportionately affect gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men.”
“As the Government affirms that ‘in Victoria, equality is not negotiable’, we want to ensure this disparity in health outcomes is addressed.”
The strategy also recognises the important role HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) will continue to play in HIV prevention. The PrEP-X study in Victoria now has 3,800 people enrolled and expects to reduce new HIV infections by 30 percent.“Victoria’s rapid enrolment rates in PrEP-X have demonstrated that the community is serious about taking control of their sexual health and wellbeing and accessing this game-changing tool in HIV prevention,” said Ruth.
“Our plan forward will need to be a comprehensive one ensuring HIV testing is accessible and affordable to everyone and that we respond to the needs of people living with HIV - in particular, those aging with HIV.”
22 May 2017
VAC responds to PrEP-X Victoria Seroconversion
VAC has learned that a person on the Victorian PrEPX study has seroconverted and become HIV positive. There are two ways that this may have occurred.
• If a person is not adherent to their PrEP regimen (taking the prescribed dose regularly) it is possible that they would not be protected against acquiring HIV;• If a person comes into contact with a person living with HIV who has detectable viral load together with a strain of the virus that is resistant to PrEP medication it is possible (although extremely rare) that they might acquire that viral strain of HIV.
“Currently there are over 100,000 individuals who are taking PrEP globally as a way to protect themselves against HIV acquisition. To date there have been no confirmed cases in Australia of a person on PrEP being infected with a drug-resistant HIV,” commented VAC CEO, Simon Ruth.
“There have been no reported occurrences of widespread PrEP failure here or around the world where in many locations PrEP is approved and subsidised. The vast majority of people taking PrEP in this country and around the world continue to be protected by this powerful HIV prevention tool.”
Mr Ruth went on to stress the importance of continuing to consider all options when it comes to HIV prevention.“It is important that gay men and all people at risk of HIV infection consider and decide on the best way to protect themselves from the range of safe sex options available to them,” he said.
For more information or comment, contact Liam Clark on email@example.com or (03) 9865 6700
10 May 2017
VAC, JOY 94.9 and Switchboard partner to recognise volunteers at inaugural L.O.V.E. — LGBTI Organisations Volunteer Event
Last night, as part of National Volunteers Week, the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) partnered with community radio station JOY 94.9 and LGBTI telephone and webchat counselling service Switchboard Victoria to host L.O.V.E. - LGBTI Organisations Volunteer Event. Held at St Kilda Town Hall, the event recognises the vital contributions volunteers have made to the work of these three organisations in supporting LGBTI communities.
While JOY and VAC volunteers regularly combine forces with the Laird Hotel at Northside Bizarre each October, this is the first time the three community organisations have partnered together to recognise the substantial contribution of volunteers.
L.O.V.E. sees the three LGBTI community organisations combine forces to recognise and celebrate the remarkable contribution of volunteers on a grander scale. The event recognised a number of long-serving volunteers having served at least 5, 10, 15, 25 and even 30 years of service as a volunteer.
“Volunteers are the lifeblood that keeps organisations like ours alive,” said VAC CEO Simon Ruth. “Without our volunteers, none of us could operate the services we provide to the community. It is only fitting that we celebrate and formally recognise the longstanding contribution volunteers have made.”
JOY CEO Tenille Moisel added, “JOY is thrilled to work with VAC and Switchboard to recognise our volunteers for the tremendous support they provide our organisations and the broader LGBTI community.”
Switchboard General Manager, Jo Ball highlighted the collaborative nature of volunteers in our community.
“Considering that many Switchboard volunteers also volunteer at VAC and JOY it only makes sense to hold a joint event. As we all know, we are stronger together, and I look forward to continuing to find projects that VAC, Switchboard and JOY can collaborate on.”
The event included performances from the Melbourne Rainbow Band and invited guests include City of Port Phillip Mayor Cr Bernadine Voss with Victoria Police Gay and Lesbian Liason Officers (GLLO) Gabby Tyacke and Travis Costelow to host the event.
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