Acon 30th Anniversary logoNSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner will join leaders from the health, government, business and community sectors at a special reception at NSW Parliament House this week to mark the 30th anniversary of ACON, NSW’s leading HIV prevention, HIV support and LGBTI* health organisation

The reception takes place on Tuesday 18 August, the date in 1985 when the AIDS Council of NSW was formally incorporated as an organisation.

ACON was created by gay men and their friends in Sydney in the early years of the HIV/AIDS crisis to help fight the spread of HIV and to provide care and support for people living with and dying from AIDS. Since then, ACON has evolved to become an essential part of NSW’s health sector, with more than 850 staff and volunteers working across NSW to deliver a range of services and activities throughout the state.

ACON President Mark Orr says over the past three decades, ACON has made a significant contribution to the health of many people and communities.

“For 30 years, ACON has worked hard to help people in our community take control of their health, whether it be in relation to HIV prevention, supporting people living with HIV or helping improve the health and safety of LGBTI people,” he says.

ACON began with a small group of friends rallying around loved ones dying from an unknown virus.

They came together to help ensure access to quality care and support, lobby governments, fight for people living with HIV and AIDS, and to advocate for a community experiencing persecution and discrimination. ACON has grown considerably since then and today plays an integral role not only in the Australian response to the HIV epidemic, but also in delivering better health outcomes for hundreds of thousands of LGBTI people in areas such as sexual health, mental health, alcohol and drugs, community care, ageing, homophobic and transphobic violence, domestic and family violence, and workplace and social inclusion. We do this by providing a comprehensive range of evidenced-based programs and services as well as collaborating with all levels of government to ensure our work is supported by effective policy settings.

Ending HIV transmission in NSW by 2020

Mr Orr says ACON’s evolution will continue into the future as its programs and services adapt to whatever challenges and opportunities lie ahead. “Our goal of ending HIV transmission in NSW by 2020 is a primary focus for us, and we’ll continue to work hard to get gay men to test more, treat early, and stay safe. Our HIV support and LGBTI health work will also continue to develop, as will our rapidly expanding provision of LGBTI related training and consulting services. But whatever issues we confront in the years ahead, be they medical, social, political, or technological, they’ll be addressed with the values of courage, empathy, diversity, equality, adaptability, partnership and community which have guided the work of ACON through the last 30 years.”

“It’s been an incredible journey for us, but of course we could not have accomplished anywhere near what we have without the support of thousands of people and organisations which have helped us be here for our community. So we thank our staff, boards, members, volunteers and supporters, for their time, effort, expertise and support over the last 30 years. We particularly thank successive NSW governments, NSW Health, Positive Life NSW, researchers and clinicians for their remarkable and committed collaboration. And finally we thank our clients and community members for caring for each other and working to make our community healthy and strong.”