peter-knightThe System Works, Mate!

Peter Knight was a member of the Health Subcommittee of the ALSO Foundation which was first set up in 1983 to investigate the immerging phenomenon of HIV (at that staged called GRID – Gay Related Immune Deficiency). He helped organise the first meeting about HIV at the Royal Dental Hospital and was elected to the Victoria AIDS Action Committee when it was set up at the Laird Hotel meeting later that year. He took responsibility for investigating the care and support needs which might be required in this emerging epidemic.

As a frequent traveller to the USA, Peter knew the impact that HIV was already having in the gay community there. He recognised there would soon be a similar situation in Australia and set about establishing a proper system of volunteer training and support. He envisioned a system of “AIDS Mates” who would help meet the need for people who require care in their homes.

Peter used extensive personal networks, his involvement with ALSO and the gay community to recruit and huge number of volunteers to be ready to meet the care needs of PLWHA when they required it. He played a crucial role in establishing the support program within the VAC/GMHC and his legacy with the organisation is acknowledged with the name of their building, the Peter Knight Centre, in his honour. It is perhaps ironic that a man who worked so hard to establish a care system for others became one of the first recipients of his own work when he was provided with a care team to help him die at home. To long-time friend Phillip Carswell who visited his bedside not long before his death, Peter said with a warm smile on his face “The system works mate”

Photo courtesy of Satellite Group Limited