deborah-gilliesBorn 31.3.62  –  Died 27.4.94

Positive Women Speak Out

Deborah Gillies was a co-founder of Positive Women with Bev Greet in July 1988. Being open about being HIV-positive was hard enough for anybody at this time but it was particularly difficult for women because of their relative invisibility in the epidemic to that time and the lack of peer support or understanding of their specific issues and needs. Deborah and Bev set about the task of finding other positive women, establishing their organisation and eventually getting funding for a worker.

In 1989 Deborah was employed by PLWHA Vic on a project to examine the need for a community centre for PLWHA. This was followed by work on a project, auspiced by VAC/GMHC but managed by the committee of Positive Women Victoria which was to produce a much-acclaimed booklet and video, Positive Women: Women with HIV and AIDS Speak Out.

Deborah was particularly keen to reach out to isolated positive women to offer them peer support and she saw this as the main purpose of her work and the resources she produced with Positive Women Victoria. She was an inspiration to many positive women to become involved in the organisation and her intelligence and geniality made her a popular figure with many in the broader HIV community. She is sadly missed but her memory and her legacy live on.