Recognising the strengths of our positive community
During a year defined, at least in part, by extended isolation, our positive community has exhibited an extraordinary and unwavering presence of support and leadership. The 2021 Living Positive Victoria Positive Community Awards, announced at LPV’s recent AGM, recognise the amazing people and organisations who support the positive community and, with their dedication and commitment, encourage others to do the same during a period where we need community most.
The President’s Award
This year’s President’s Award is presented to Adam Ehm for his visionary leadership in improving the quality of life for HIV positive people. Adam has served on Living Positive Victoria’s Board of Directors for five years, two of which he served as an exemplary President.
Adam’s standout leadership achievements continuously demonstrated his commitment to the MIPA principles include lobbying the BBV/STI National Covid-19 Task Force to ensure PLHIV voices were part of this high-level committee. “He has been a hero to many of us,” reflects Board Director Christabel Millar.
Adam has a proud and long history with Living Positive Victoria’s Positive Speakers Bureau, delivering a powerful message while always remaining deeply approachable. “The bureau is such an important way to amplify voices and speak to what HIV means in this day and age,” Adam reflects.
He is also a long time member of Delaney AIDS Research Enterprise (DARE), reminding our healthcare community that nothing for us without us remains pertinent today.
“I cannot thank Adam enough for the support and the exceptional leadership he has provided during his time with Living Positive Victoria,” says Christabel. “I have learnt so much about equity and inclusion from Adam. He has helped me to further embed these principles into our governance practices.”
“It’s been an absolute honour and privilege to be working with you all, and I have learnt a great deal,” says Adam on accepting his award. “This organisation has really fostered my love of different ways of sector engagement”.
Special Acknowledgement Award
Given to an individual, group or organisation that has had a significant impact on the lives of people living with HIV, this year we recognise Melbourne’s Loz Rez Male Choir for their empowering contribution to our positive community.
Specialising in pop arrangements, the choir unites men from diverse cultural backgrounds through the joy of singing. Over the past seven years, the choir has volunteered their time and energy into lending their beautiful music to our events, including the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, which the choir’s president, Michael Howden, describes as a “very touching component” of the group’s repertoire.
Loz Rez Male Choir members are all volunteers, and their sense of service and commitment, even amid the COVID pandemic, has helped our community celebrate and remember loved ones when we most need it.
“Living Positive Victoria will always be grateful to the members of the Low Rez Choir for the hundreds of hours they have dedicated to Living Positive Victoria and people living with HIV, their generosity, and their love for entertaining us and feeding our hearts and souls,” reflects Living Positive Victoria’s Treasurer, Matthew Gallagher.
“It is a great honour to be acknowledged for the work that we do with you,” says Michael Howden. “We look forward to working with you for many more years into the future.”
“There are so many people in the community and your organisation that do so much good work. We are just so excited to be a part of what you do.”
Positive Health and Wellbeing Award
With the right antiretrovirals at the right time, many people living with HIV have outlived the prognosis given to them in the early days of the epidemic. The priority now is to age well. For outstanding vision and leadership to this end, the Positive Health and Wellbeing Award goes to The Burnet Institute for the vital role they played in developing the Well Beyond 50 website – a single destination for everything HIV and ageing.
“We are ecstatic to be awarding this to The Burnet Institute,” says Living Positive Victoria Secretary Jared Stern. “The Well Beyond 50 website is truly excellent and I have already gleaned so much information from it.”
In Australia, well over half of all people living with HIV are now aged over 50. The project meets an emerging and critical need to provide effective and community-centred services to support people to age well with HIV.
“Thank you so much for the award. We’d like to extend our thanks to LPV and the number of partners involved in the project, as well as the advisory committee,” says Dean Cassano, Research Assistant in HIV Prevention at The Burnet Institute.
“The honour of this award is a great privilege,” adds Imogen Elsum, the institute’s Research Program Manager. “As well as our partners, we also want to thank those who participated in our research and helped us capture the voice of the community.”
The Community Development Award
Awarded to an individual, group or organisation who has supported and empowered our positive community, this year’s recipient of The Community Development Award is The JOY FM Breakfast Show, The Murphys.
“The Murphys have been key to facilitating the sharing of essential news and updates for the positive community via regular on-air chats with LPV during a time when the upkeep of the health and wellness of our positive community was vital,” reflects Richard Keane, CEO of Living Positive Victoria. “We’re proud to be able to contribute to the diverse and inclusive voices that so happily parallel the needs of LPV’s members, clients and the aims and missions of our organisation.”
“We’re just wrapped! We’ve been doing this show for ten years, and we have never won anything,” exclaims Dean Murphy on receiving the award. “We feel a bit guilty actually,” Dean adds, “We’ve been given this amazing award, but working with you doesn’t feel like work at all,” he laughs. “There are so many people in the community and your organisation that do so much good work. We are just so excited to be a part of what you do.”
Living Positive Victoria is proud to work so closely with Adam Ehm, the Loz Rez Male Choir, The Burnet Institute and Joy FM in building a better quality of life for all people living with HIV. The diverse methods of community and sector engagement demonstrated by the awardees show the strength of Victoria’s positive community as together we shape a world where people living with HIV live their lives to their full potential, in good health and free from discrimination.
Feature image from LOW REZ Melbourne Male Choir