WORLD AIDS DAY DECEMBER 1ST 2019

On the 1stof December each year, we pause to reflect on our progress in the fight against HIV. We remember those we lost and commit to supporting those still living with HIV today. It is also a time to reflect on our progress towards the goal of reaching zero HIV transmissions.

World AIDS Day means different things to different people. For some, a time to remember and reflect on the past and a time to commit to reaching zero transmissions. For others, it is also a time to celebrate the strength and diversity of the different communities affected by HIV in Australia.

WAD 2019: Every Journey Counts

The theme of World AIDS Day 2019 is ‘Every Journey Counts’.

Every journey and way to mark World AIDS Day matters.

As it has for a number of years now, the Queensland World AIDS Day Alliance (QWADA) continues to work together to implement a range of activities to mark World AIDS Day across the state.

Candlelight Vigils

Among the events across the state, a candlelight vigil will be held on December 1 from 6.45pm at Captain Burke Park, 117 Holman St at Kangaroo Point in Brisbane. This event takes place under the Story Bridge, illuminated in red to mark World AIDS Day. The vigil is a chance to reflect and remember all those lost since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The candlelight vigil is free to attend and does not require booking.

In Cairns, the local World AIDS Day planning committee organises a vigil. The Queensland AIDS Council is a member of the committee.

Brisbane and Queensland events CLICK HERE:  Facebook.com/QLDAIDSCouncil

Cairns and North Queensland events CLICK HERE Facebook.com/QuACNQ/

 

Events the length and breadth of Queensland

Each and every year volunteers, services, groups, and businesses come together to mark World AIDS Day across Queensland. There is a full list of events for World AIDS Day 2019 right across Queensland at www.worldaidsday.org.au

“World AIDS Day is an amazing example of community, services and governments coming together to not only remember the past, but recommit to a future free of new HIV diagnoses and providing strong supports and services for people living with HIV in Queensland, and across the entire country”, Rebecca Reynolds, QuAC Chief Executive Officer said.

“The communities impacted by HIV are strong, diverse and resilient, but we all have a role to play on World AIDS Day to stand with them – whether that is wearing red on the day or having a red ribbon on your shirt, talking with the people in your life about HIV and the importance of World AIDS Day, or coming along to an event to stand in solidarity and remembrance together”.

It is important to remember on this World AIDS Day that every journey to HIV prevention also matters.

There are now a range of different approaches to gay men and men who have sex with men taking control of their own sexual health and preventing the onward transmission of HIV. This includes condoms, or using PrEP (a prevention strategy where an HIV negative person takes treatment before exposure to HIV). Regular sexual health testing is a crucial element of all prevention strategies.

#ComePrepd

Rebecca Reynolds said “QuAC’s #ComePrepd campaign answers a lot of the questions people might have around PrEP. By sharing real stories, it enables people to make up their own mind as to whether PrEP is right for them”.

The website can be found at www.comeprepd.info

Another significant development in HIV prevention is for people living with HIV to maintain an undetectable viral load. That makes it virtually impossible to pass on the virus, which is known as Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U).

In Queensland, 97% of gay men report an undetectable viral load and they make a significant contribution to HIV prevention.

So whether you are remembering the past and those we have lost, considering what steps you can take to reduce HIV stigma and discrimination, or you are thinking about what HIV prevention means to you, the 1st of December is a time for our diverse communities to pause and reflect together.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM BILLS : AN OVERVIEW

On 29 August 2019, the Australian Government released a package of radical legislative reforms on religious freedom. These Religious Freedoms Bills go far beyond protecting people of faith from discrimination in line with Australia’s other anti-discrimination law. They introduce special entitlements for people of faith and erode anti-discrimination protection for others.

In 2017 our LGBTI communities fought for – and won – marriage equality. Now we need to once again fight for equality alongside other communities who will be adversely affected by these laws, including women, people of colour and people with a disability.

In early September, the Queensland AIDS Council held a statewide community forum to discuss the response of our LGBTI communities these proposed laws. As a result of this community consultation we have prepared some resources to let people know more about the negative impact of these proposed laws and to encourage people to action.

Learn more:

Take action:

1. Provide a brief submission to the Attorney-General’s Department explaining why you are opposed to some or all of these proposed laws. Email your submission to FoRConsultation@ag.gov.au using this template. Use the Useful Religious Freedom Bills Talking Points document as the basis for your submission. You can even just copy and paste that text into the template.

2. Share the above resources on social media and with your friends and family.

3. Call, email, fax, or go to see your Member of Parliament or Senator. Again, use the Useful Religious Freedom Bills Talking Points document as the basis for your submission. If you’re not sure who your Member of Parliament is, you can search by postcode here. The Senators for Queensland are listed here.

4. Sign a petition: Equality Australia and just.equal.

5. Support QuAC’s campaign by making a donation.

Connect with other organisations:

 

RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS : INFO SESSION THIS WED 4TH SEPT

LEARN WHAT THE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM BILLS COULD MEAN FOR LGBTI PEOPLE

There’s been a lot of talk about the Australian Government’s legislative reforms on religious freedoms, and what the changes may mean for LGBTI Sistergirl and Brotherboy people.

At 6pm on Wednesday 4th September the QuAC Brisbane and Cairns offices will be hosting a statewide community information session on the reforms and QuAC’s response to the changes. Come along to learn more and share your stories.

To register to attend the Brisbane session email Jan at JThwaites@quac.org.au, to register to attend the Cairns session, email cns@quac.org.au

The reason for the information session is the Federal Government has released the draft Religious Freedom bills for consultation before they are introduced to Parliament. The consultation period for the bills is very short, with submissions closing on 2nd October.

QuAC is hosting the session In order to outline the changes and what they mean for LGBTI communities and provide community members with an opportunity to share their views. QuAC President Peter Black will outline the proposed changes.

The session will be hosted in the Brisbane Office with the Cairns office participating by video conference, and the meeting will be accessible to anyone else in Queensland via a zoom meeting link.

It would be appreciated if you could promote the information session to your contacts. The zoom link to share with any of your contacts who would like to join by video is https://zoom.us/j/5625154367

If you require further information on how you can join the videoconference of the session, email Jan at  JThwaites@quac.org.au

Vincent’s Transgender PrEP Story

Starting PrEP was an important decision that allowed me to take ownership of my own sexual health. Speaking to my GP in an open and honest way about my sex life has made me better informed about my health and also set a precedent with my GP that our doctor-patient relationship is safe and accepting.

I am a gay transgender man which makes my body and sex life different from that of cisgender male. This was an important thing to consider and discuss with my GP when accessing prep. A lot of sexual health campaigns are cis normative (meaning they are primarily aimed at people who identify with the sex they were assigned at birth). Finding relevant information for me, a man with a vagina has always been difficult. One of the main reasons I started prep was because I learnt that taking testosterone can increase the chances of vaginal bleeding during sex, making HIV transmission more likely.

It was important to me when first researching PrEP that my doctor would be able to discuss it in a way that was relevant to my body, sexuality and identity. I opened this dialogue with a doctor who I knew was LGBT friendly and specifically, was literate on gender identity. This made a big impact on me in my initial consultation as I wasn’t required to define or explain things about my body that he didn’t understand, and I felt safe in his care. I would stress to any transgender person looking to access PrEP that you speak with a doctor who is LGBT friendly and approach the topic from a place of openness and honesty.

I have been taking PrEP since June 2018 and access it through a local pharmacy (on PBS) that I know to be well stocked and LGBT friendly. I know PrEP can also be accessed online and this is cheaper, however I’ve never been organised enough to take that route myself. I have encountered no real obstacles in my access to PrEP, it has been a very smooth process however that has been contingent on the fact that my healthcare providers are trans-friendly and well informed. I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable discussing PrEP or my sexual health in general with a doctor outside of my existing network.

The benefits of PrEP are clear, it is a fairly risk free, safe way to prevent the transmission of HIV. This benefit applies to everyone, regardless of sexuality or gender identity however I personally consider it part of a larger effort to understand and take ownership of sexual health as it relates to my body. Because it has been such a positive experience, it has made me more comfortable talking about other sexual health concerns such as contraception and STIs.

This quest for knowledge is one I believe every transgender person should embark on. Our bodies are quite unique and often general health information or public health campaigns won’t consider us. Overcoming this barrier requires regular and open engagement with competent and well informed healthcare professionals. I encourage all trans men to have an open and honest conversation with an LGBTI friendly doctor. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to be your own advocate.

If you prefer to copy Vincent’s story from comeprepd please go ahead!

See Vincent’s story and everything you need to know about PrEP at: https://www.comeprepd.info

 

PRIVATE LIVES 3 VALUES YOUR INPUT

Private Lives 3 is a national study that explores the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTIQ) people living in Australia. This study will provide much-needed data to inform health, support, and other services, as well as deliver a better understanding of the experiences of LGBTIQ people today. It is conducted by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University, and is funded by the Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services.

Who can take part?

You are invited to complete this survey if you are aged 18 years or older, living in Australia, and identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender diverse, intersex, or other related identities.

 How long does it take?

The survey should take 30-40 minutes to complete.

The third iteration of “Private Lives”, Australia’s largest national survey of the health and well-being of LGBTIQ+ people, is now in progress. If you are LGBTIQ+, over 18, and living in Australia, this is your chance to make your voice count. Click on the link below to begin:

www.privatelives3.org.au

Seeking Expressions of Interest From Mental Health Professionals

The Teams at Open Doors Youth Service and Queensland AIDS Council are seeking Expressions of Interest from suitably qualified Mental Health Professionals to grow our team who will provide client-centred, trauma informed counselling and support services to those within our LGBTI Sistergirl and Brotherboy communities.

Located within the Brisbane North PHN Catchment Area, we are seeking two (2) Full Time mental health professionals (1 Senior role); and one (1) full time youth mental health professionals, across Suicide Prevention and Brisbane Mind services.

Interested and suitable qualified professionals must be willing to work from a Strengths based approach and meet the below qualifications as a minimum:

  • Psychologists
  • Clinical Psychologist; and
  • Mental Health Social Worker

The positions will work across both QuAC and ODYS and will form part of larger multidisciplinary mental and physical health teams.

A passion for increasing the health and wellbeing of our communities is an absolute must.

Interested and qualified applicants should send a Copy of the Curriculum Vitae and a letter Expressing their Interest for the role to both:

Rebecca Reynolds & Chris Pickard by Wednesday 31st July 2019.

Rreynolds@quac.org.au         cpickard@opendoors.net.au

Any questions regarding the role can be directed to Rebecca & Chris also.

It is anticipated that interviews will take place on Friday 2nd August 2019.

 

Residential Workshop for PLHIV – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

The aim of the residential workshop is to provide a safe environment for participants to share their personal journeys of living with HIV, interact with other participants and take part in peer educational and cultural activities. The workshop is open to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with HIV in North Queensland, all meals, accommodation and travel will be provided free to participants.

The workshop format will include yarning, covering subjects such as HIV treatment, understanding the virus, barriers to support and care, disclosure, shame and stigma. The workshops will also include a number of fun activities such as bush walking, art, craft and fishing.

Participants will also be encouraged to share their thoughts about how engagement in HIV treatment can be supported and improved for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The project is being led and supported by a team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with HIV who will also be attendance at the retreat and facilitate sessions. Support staff will be available onsite to support participants and help navigate them through any issues they may have.

Date: 31 August – 3 September 2019

People can either self-refer or referred for the workshop in the following ways:

1. Via securely encrypted online referral form for service providers: https://www.qpp.org.au/referrals
2. Self-referral through securely encrypted self-referral form: https://www.qpp.org.au/self-referral
3. All enquiries contact Chris Howard on choward@qpp.org.au
4. Text or call 0455 725 207

IN BRISBANE? VISIT OUR ART EXHIBITION

TALKING CAN MAKE IT BETTER ART EXHIBITION

PRESENTED BY  QUEENSLAND AIDS COUNCIl AND BRISBANE POWERHOUSE

If you are in Brisbane spend some time visiting our collaborative artistic exploration of how creativity can encourage visual and verbal conversations which aim to reduce suicide and self-harm in our LGBTIQ+, Sistergirl and Brotherboy communities.

As part of the National Suicide Prevention Trial being held in the greater Brisbane region, the Queensland AIDS Council invited artists to submit a visual art response to the messages: “Talking can make it better” and “Here’s how to start the conversation.” This exhibition is the result.

As part of this exhibition you are invited to join our guest speakers for a FREE conversation on Creativity and LGBTIQ+ Suicide Prevention held on 4pm, SUN 30 JUNE. Click here to view.

 

NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK 20-26 MAY

This annual celebration is to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers.

The theme for National Volunteer Weekis ‘Making a world of difference.’ This represents the millions of volunteers who make a profound impact in their communities and on society. They contribute to a global effort and make a world of difference.

QuAC has its origins in the commitment, work and spirit of volunteers. We continue to rely on volunteers in many areas from condom packing, to community outreach, our LGBTI Seniors Visiting Scheme, Testing Point and many others including those who volunteer on the Board. Without the passionate contribution of you all, we would not be able to do all that we do.

We cannot thank you enough!

If you’d like to be more involved and volunteer for us please click on the registration link here https://bit.ly/2YDlDZz