Living Positive Victoria Staff
Chief Executive OfficerContact Richard
Peer Support ManagerContact Sara
Health Promotion OfficerContact Dimitri
Health Promotion OfficerContact Timothy
Peer Support OfficerContact Anthony
Senior Communications OfficerContact Brenton
Speakers Bureau Co-ordinator
Business Support ManagerContact David
Health Promotion OfficerContact Vic
Cristian Cortes Garzon
Business Support OfficerContact Cristian
Senior Policy and Research OfficerContact Craig
Board of Directors
Christabel is a passionate volunteer first and foremost. She was born and raised in London, UK where she lived until her early 20s before moving to Melbourne. Her background is varied, she has a degree in Fine Art Painting from RMIT, loves art and performance as a form of transformation and rebellion and wishes she made more art in order to help bring about the revolution to enfranchise and redistribute power to all marginalised peoples. She channels this into community work and engagement through her role on the Board of Living Positive Victoria, as well as working in Risk & Resilience and Community Development in Fire & Emergency Response in Victoria.
Christabel says that Living Positive Victoria has given her the opportunity to experience and learn excellence in Governance and exposed her to so many opportunities that have enriched her life. LPV is the deepest link she has to her community and so she is dedicated to helping guide the organisation towards its brightest future.
Christabel would like to attend more community events and increase the visibility of queer female and non-binary identifying people in the Victorian HIV community.
Jared is undertaking a PhD at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity after completing a Bachelor of Biomedicine (Honours) at The University of Melbourne. His current research has examined how HIV latency is maintained, revealing novel mechanisms and interactions with host cells to be exploited as an HIV cure strategy.
Jared is highly passionate about scientific teaching and communicating science reliably and accessibly, having written many blogposts and tweets, and run classes at scientific conferences to strengthen relationships between the HIV scientific and community stakeholders. He is a also peer facilitator for Gen Next, and the Secretary of the Board of Directors at Living Positive Victoria.
Adam (he/him) was an educator for a decade, before transitioning careers to work for the Western Australian AIDS Council in health promotion and peer support roles. This exposed him to how not-for-profit organisations work and the complex intersectional issues faced by PLHIV in this part of Australia.
The International AIDS Conference Adam attended in Durban solidified his commitment to engage meaningfully with diverse communities in the best interest of the Body Positive. When not focusing on governance for Living Positive Victoria, Adam enjoys challenging stigma and discrimination as part of the Positive Speakers Bureau and working with talented and dedicated researchers and community members as part of the Melbourne HIV Cure Consortium and the Delaney Community Advisory Board (DARE-DAB) for HIV cure research. Adam possesses a Master of Science in Medicine (HIV, STIs and Sexual Health) from the University of Sydney, together with undergraduate degrees in education and applied science from the Queensland University of Technology.
He enjoys drawing, studying Russian, movies, travelling, and visiting cafes in his spare time.
Michele trained as an intensive care nurse at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and completed an MBA at Monash University and has worked in healthcare and pharmaceuticals for over 20 years.
Michele’s expertise covers the following key areas:
Strategy; development of initiatives (patient outcomes, pathways and clinical trials); strong access, policy and advocacy; creating evidence-based interventions including digital solutions; global public health; government affairs; corporate communications and driving Partnerships and Collaborations.
Passionate about healthcare for their whole career, Michele has worked in pharma since 2003, and worked for ViiV Healthcare (a specialist HIV company) for over 10 years in Australia, US, and UK. Michele is currently an independent consultant working in healthcare and pharmaceuticals.
Living Positive Victoria is their first board appointment and Michele is thrilled to have this opportunity. Michele is a staunch advocate for PLHIV. As people are now living longer, their passion is to ensure that they are living well with HIV and having the means to do so. Michele believes in diversity, human rights and living a life that is free of stigma and discrimination. Another passion is that Australia has done extremely well in reducing the number of new infections and transmission of HIV which is testament to the power and unity of the community, bipartisan government support and the tireless research and clinical efforts of the healthcare community. However, with this success is the concern that the government feels that the ‘job is done’ and that we no longer require to invest in the same levels of funding and research into this area. Michele believes that although significant progress has been made, we need to vigilant in promoting and advocating for the rights of the community and PLHIV to ensure that adequate funding, infrastructure and support is continued. HIV is not eliminated and the job is not yet done.
Michele is married to Pete (husband) and they are passionate travellers and love learning about new cultures and history. One day they would like to retire to the beach and have a veggie patch, and maybe even with a goat or chicken or two!
Stefan is currently studying his Masters of International Relations at the University of Melbourne, where he also is a nominated university committee member & elected councillor in the Graduate Student Association. He has recently returned from Atlanta USA, as part of the Melbourne University team that competed and won second place in the prestigious international Emory Global Health Case Competition.
With an academic and professional background in architecture and urban design, he has spent time living abroad in Europe diversifying his lived and professional experience. Having returned to Australia in 2017, he has held an Academic Tutor position in the Design, Architecture & Building Faculty at the University of Technology Sydney, in parallel to working in the LGBTIQ+ Community Health Sector as an Educator and Community Health Promotion Officer at ACON. With broad experience working in design, community consultation, social advocacy, media production & project management, his professional background is underpinned by a robust intersectional approach across fields and disciplines, which he has taken an ambitious new chapter with his current postgraduate studies.
Topics of interest for Stefan within the HIV/NFP sector include;
o Advocacy for all PLHIV, with particular passion and focus on CALD, trans & gender-diverse communities.
o The international and cross-cultural HIV sector, and how through sharing of knowledge and best-practice, the PLHIV community can continue to strengthen and remain heard. Excited to enrich our communities continuing of the historical legacy of the HIV/AIDS fight – and to promote the well-being and rights of all PLHIV.
o Continuing to promote and advance public awareness of Undetectable=Untransmissible in the spirit of challenging and defeating stigma through health literacy and respect for the rights and dignities of PLHIV.
As Living Positive Victoria’s treasurer, Matt does more than punch out digits. With over 10 years accounting experience he’s a self-proclaimed un-accountant-ey human, obsessed with putting numbers and business smarts to their best use. Matt thinks in figures and speaks in plain English, a quality that draws businesses and individuals to his door.
With finance an organic part of his make-up and three successful businesses of his own, he’s well placed to oversee the annual budget and expenditure at Living Positive Victoria. He also sits on the board, helping the fundraising committee steer the organisational ship – keeping it sustainable and relevant. An experience he describes as invaluable. Matt thrives on sharing his knowledge for the success of others. Big or small – watching a business flourish and triumph is what he finds fulfilling.
And it’s not just work, it’s personal too. Matt has experienced first-hand the valuable front line community support that Living Positive Victoria provide. The Gen Next Program and Phoenix Workshops helped him come to terms with his own diagnosis, navigating a time that would have been much harder without LPV’s guidance.
Matt knows how to balance work with rest. Beyond the busy roles of treasurer and manager of multiple companies, he’s a keen explorer. From a local Sunday drive, camping or country get-away to one of his many trips to Europe. With Edinburgh and Florence being hands down favourites – he knows how to unwind. When he’s not scouting out new destinations, he confesses to a love of home baking with a soft spot for carbs; pastries, pies, pasta and bread.
Jeffrey has been involved with Living Positive Victoria for nearly 20 years, in which time he has become a fierce HIV activist and public speaker, fighting discrimination and stigma at every opportunity. Jeffrey spoke out against personal discrimination and stigma he experienced, educated himself about HIV, before choosing to educate the wider community about the rights of people living with HIV. He possesses eight years of governance experience on boards, and was integral in the merger between Living Positive Victoria and Straight Arrows. In addition to almost two decades of experiencing volunteering for positive not for profit organisations, Jeffrey has extensive management experience. He worked as a chef at reputable hotels worldwide, where he organised and managed high numbers of staff in kitchens.
As a Board Director, he wants you to know that his life as a positive person matters, as do the lives of all positive people that he’s connected with over the years. Jeffrey hopes to make a real difference to the lives of a diverse range of PLHIV in Victoria.
Rosaria has been an educator for the past 19 years, with experience in government schools and cultural organisations. She is a current Commissioner for the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC), in the third year of her tenure. She works and promotes CALD communities in Victoria and has strong ties to the Italian community of Melbourne. Her work with the VMC has forged strong ties to vulnerable CALD groups and in particular in the current pandemic (COVID-19) has brought to light how CALD communities have been greatly affected.
Her interest in connecting with LPV is to impute and advise how the current LPV strategic plan can reach out and engage with CALD communities around the issue of Living Positive with HIV.
Oonagh has worked with people with HIV for more than 30 years.
A mental health nurse by profession, in the early 90’s, a time when HIV diagnoses was prevalent, Oonagh established the second Crisis Assessment & Treatment Team in Victoria, a department of health initiative to treat and support people in the community in mental health crisis.
Many people who were diagnosed with HIV at this time went on to develop mental health issues that required crisis intervention. It was here that Oonagh first started learning about HIV and got to know people with HIV.
A career move into the homeless sector also saw Oonagh working with people with HIV, some of whom had been incarcerated, were intravenous drug users or who had just fallen on hard times. Again mental illness was prevalent.
Oonagh later moved into the corporate sector in pharmaceuticals, with a new career spanning sales, account management, business development, policy and advocacy and corporate affairs.
It was during this time that Oonagh became an advocate for people with HIV. Working closely with the HIV community sector, Oonagh led and drove initiatives for the benefit of people with HIV, including
• My Life+ – a mobile app
• Positive Action Community Grants
• Critical steps toward addressing HIV in Australia – a publication that was launched at Parliament House Canberra and informed the content of the 8th National HIV strategy
• Collaborations, including, goodqualityoflife (NAPWHA), 123 could it be HIV (Thorne Harbour Health) and
• Provided seed funding for Living Positive Victoria’s pilot Peer Navigation program – leading to subsequent and recurring funding from the department of health for this initiative.
A collaborator at heart and Innately driven by a sense of social justice, fairness, equality and inclusion, Oonagh has been privileged to join the board of directors at Living Positive Victoria and hopes to continue making an impactful difference to the lives of people with HIV and the organisations that support them.