Living Positive Victoria is currently seeking nominations from members to join the 2020/2021 Board of Directors. Beyond ensuring the good governance of the organisation, elected Directors play a significant role overseeing the strategic development of the organisation, as well as supporting staff, volunteers and stakeholders through new opportunities and challenges as we advocate for the health and wellbeing of the HIV community in Victoria.
Please meet Board Director, Christabel Miller, for a behind the scenes look at their journey and experiences around contributing to the future of Living Positive Victoria.
Christabel, what is your history with LPV?
An absolute chance, stroke of luck meeting has meant that I’ve been able to feel that LPV has been a true home of mine ever since 2014. To get the clichés out hard and fast; honestly this is when my life as a positive person changed forever. I’d lived in secrecy for four years, nearly passed away from AIDS and was just existing in a state of constant high alert and personal terror. Some of the key leaders of LPV at that time quite literally opened their arms to me and insisted that I believe my thoughts and experiences as a female identifying person living with HIV had meaning and worth. Those types of feelings can be rare for positive people and cannot be underestimated. This was life-altering. A few months later, still questioning myself, I admitted I was interested in governance. I was deeply, fortifyingly, encouraged to put my name in the running for an upcoming board election. To my surprise still, I was endorsed and voted on the Board of Directors and the rest has been an empowering, challenging and life-affirming journey to today.
What drove you make such a commitment to the organisation?
This is tough to answer without getting on my soapbox. How could I not make a commitment? I’m a secret radical and those that know me well know that, I take any opportunity I have to rage against the establishment, how could I not try to rise to the challenge of being offered the chance to advocate for my own human rights. My outlook is for the disenfranchised. I was diagnosed at 22, in a time before U=U, before PrEP, I believed I was infectious to the people I loved. We have to have somewhere to put all of that emotion and I chose to put it towards my community so that I never had to feel like an outcast again.
As a Board Member, what do you feel is your key responsibility to the positive community?
I couldn’t name just one, I feel it’s my responsibility to be accountable for all aspects that the positive community face. Whether I can be or not doesn’t matter, I have to try. By being in this position, I don’t have the right to be ignorant of other people’s experiences. If I advocate for myself because I feel marginalised simply by being female, it’s critical I advocate for the end of the unbridled discrimination faced by Bla(c)k Indigenous Lives and Trans Lives with HIV in this country with the exact same energy. It’s my responsibility to tackle discrimination and the bold injustices faced by people living with HIV at all times, while holding myself accountable and examining my own privilege. It’s my responsibility to reflect the empathy, outrage and grief that our community experiences and ensure that is taken into consideration at all levels of service provision, research, policy, decriminalisation and community leadership.
What would you say to any of our who members who think they may be a good fit for the LPV Board?
I would say there is no perfect fit, so please apply. If you have an inkling that you would like to know how this side of community organisation and the not-for-profit world works, then this could be for you. I didn’t believe I had any skills when I joined and I went on to be an elected President! Job interviews I have now still think I’m making it up, to be gifted with that much responsibility before 30. It’s my greatest achievement. Everyone out there who is an advocate or activist deserves to feel that way too and this could be your next opportunity. Whatever skills you have, whatever your niche, we want to hear from you. In the biggest civil rights movement of our time, during another virological pandemic – your community needs you. Your community needs strong voices, hard workers, meaningful diversity and those who demonstrate equity at all times.
Nominations for the 2020/2021 Board of Directors close on Thursday 17 September. Information about how to nominate can be found here.