Living Positive Victoria is a not-for-profit, community-based organisation representing all people living with HIV in Victoria since 1988, and is committed to the advancement of human rights and wellbeing of all people living with HIV (PLHIV).
In response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, Living Positive Victoria was created as a safe place to provide support and advocate for those living with virus. The demand for services increased over the years and the organisation has now grown to a team of 16 individuals providing workshops, peer support and activities that increase the psychological, emotional and social wellbeing of those living with, or affected by HIV. Living Positive Victoria also works closely in partnership with a range of HIV sector and other organisations to deliver a comprehensive and coordinated response to the needs of PLHIV in Victoria, nationally and internationally.
Living Positive Victoria’s services reach a member base of 2031 individuals, their partners and family members and their families across all races, ethnicities, genders, ages and sexual identities.
Living Positive Victoria is an Australian, incorporated association and registered Australian Charity for taxation purposes.
Living Positive Victoria acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land where we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of all communities who also work and live on this land.
In 2022 I reported on the post-pandemic renewal efforts Living Positive Victoria’s board were undertaking following the departure of a larger than usual number of directors. For this year's annual report, I’ll focus on the outcomes of those renewal efforts, the governance changes we’ve introduced and our upcoming strategic objectives for 2024.
The 2022-23 financial year provided some unique challenges and opportunities for our organisation. Coming out of lengthy COVID restrictions and into “living with COVID”, adaptation to the new hybrid working environment has taken some time. This has led to some valuable and ongoing discussions about our office space requirements and whether our current arrangements are fit for purpose moving forward.
Peer Navigation Program Implementation Trial
The Peer Navigation Program Implementation Trial was a collaboration between Living Positive Victoria and the Australian Research Centre in Health, Sex and Society at La Trobe University. The project began in 2019 and conducted interviews, meetings and focus groups with 57 of the clinicians, peer workers and people living with HIV who participated in Living Positive Victoria’s peer navigation program in the first two years of its implementation.
In the last year, the project has produced five publications, including articles in research journals and oral and poster presentations at international HIV conferences. Three more journal articles have been submitted with a doctoral thesis to be completed later in 2023.
This body of research positions peer navigation as an intervention that can improve quality of life for people living with HIV. Our findings progress understanding of the way peer support works on personal, relational and social levels to resist the impact that stigma has on psychological, social, functional and health-related aspects of quality of life in the contemporary HIV treatment era.
This is significant in a global HIV response where overwhelmingly biomedical discourse and investment has imagined a limited role for peer navigators. Often, peer navigation programs are evaluated to improve treatment-related outcomes, like adherence or clinical attendance.
Our theoretical framework emphasizes the role that peer navigators play within community and service structures which together create an environment that enables the health and wellbeing goals that people living with HIV determine for themselves. It is important that there are safe, appropriate and accessible services and networks to which navigators can connect people living with HIV. If this service and community environment does not function and collaborate, the influence of peer navigation on quality of life may be limited.
Our focus on Living Positive Victoria’s program highlighted the experiences of culturally and sexually diverse new and temporary migrants and heterosexual men and women living with HIV. New and temporary migrants faced complex psychological, interpersonal, medical and legal concerns stemming from intersecting forms of stigma and the discrimination they experienced in the Australian migration system. Support and guidance from navigators with similar experiences as well as referral into specialised services enabled new and temporary migrants to regain some of agency and control lost to them after diagnosis. The prevailing narrative among heterosexual research participants was of a journey from isolation and secrecy to a version of themselves that could see and be seen within a vibrant and accepting community of people living with HIV. We provide recommendations to guide policy and service systems to meet the needs of these culturally diverse, low prevalence communities in Australia.
Many of our recommendations to improve the quality and impact of peer navigation programs align with Greater and Meaningful Involvement of people living with HIV Principles and National Standards of Peer Support. These cover the recruitment, training, support and development of diverse people living with HIV. We also highlight the unique style of engagement peer-based organisations have within community and policy systems as a benefit of community-led program implementation. This engagement allowed the program to influence, adapt and align with health service, policy and community systems in order to remain effective.
While in many regards this research reflects what is already happening in parts of Australia it is a reminder of the importance of local governments to continue to invest in these services and community structures. Stable investment allows peer organisations to adapt and evolve to meet the changing needs of communities. Peer navigation along with these kinds of community and service structures can help Australia and other parts of the world meet the aim of enabling a good quality of life for people living with HIV as a pillar of elimination strategies. Most importantly, thinking of peer navigation in this way places people living with HIV back at the centre of efforts to resist stigma and achieve the health and wellbeing goals we determine for ourselves.
Select publications from the project:
Krulic, T., Brown, G. & Bourne, A. (2022). A Scoping Review of Peer Navigation Programs for People Living with HIV: Form, Function and Effects. AIDS & Behaviour. doi.org/10.1007/s10461-022-03729-y
Krulic, T., Brown, G., Graham, S., Hoy, J., Bourne, A. (2023). Revealing an enabling environment: How clinical community and clinical stakeholders understand peer navigation to improve quality of life for people living with HIV in Australia. Frontiers in Public Health. doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2023.1101722
Krulic, T., Brown G., Graham, S., Bourne, A. (forthcoming). Regaining control: quality of life and the experiences of new and temporary migrants who participated in a peer navigation program for people living with HIV in Australia. Health Sociology Review.
Krulic, T., Brown, G., Graham, S., McCarthy, A., Bourne, A. (forthcoming). Stepping out of secrecy: Heterosexuality, quality of life and experiences of HIV peer navigation in Australia. Culture, Health & Sexuality.
For much of our history our physical presence at LGBTIQ+ community events was a very effective way of broadening our reach year on year. While presence at these events is still important, this year we have made greater use of digital methods to reach more effectively into our many priority communities beyond the LGBTIQ+ community.
In 2022/23 the scope of communications work continued to grow, with an emphasis on greater integration across our program areas. This is reflected in the development of the LPV Communications Strategy 2023 – 25, which outlines the communications goals and strategies that will be used across the organisation to deliver the LPV Strategic Plan 2023-28. This strategy will be finalised in the third quarter of 2023.
This year, our quarterly newsletter, Poslink turned 25 years old and celebrated its 100th edition.
Issue 100 was a retrospective of some of the key contributors and issues we have tackled over the years. As one of the longest-running HIV community outlets in Australia that still regularly publishes news, opinion, health advice and stories of living with HIV, Poslink has a legacy of which we can be proud. All archival editions of Poslink are now available on our website, including Issues 1-10 produced by the original editorial team of David Menadue, Bridget Haire and Colin Batrouney.
Our other editions for the year featured contributions from Andrew Chan, The Huxleys, Brent Allan, Dean Murphy, Fiona Kelly McGregor, Steven Spencer, Anthony McCarthy, Kirsty Machon, Gillian Lau, Craig Burnett and Gordon Campbell. Issue 101 explored the communities, parties and sexual cultures we create as ways we seek and act out queer self-expression and utopian ideals. In Issue 102, contributors considered the challenges and opportunities communities and researchers face in a new era of HIV cure innovation and discovery. Earlier in the year, Issue 99 shared some of the different ways our diverse communities find love, intimacy and pleasure in our relationships.
Midsumma Pride March
This year’s Pride March contingent featured 35 members and supporters marching down Fitzroy Street to the cheers and applause of the crowd. Team LPV carried placards featuring a suite of key messages that drew attention to our work and also connected with PLHIV and the wider community.
2022 World AIDS Day
The theme for our World AIDS Day event this year was Boldly Positive – Women and HIV. The event featured keynote speaker Professor Linda-Gail Bekker, University of Cape Town and past IAS President, and Dr Todd Fernando, Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities.
While attendance numbers were limited due to COVID restrictions being in place at the venue, approximately 130 people were able to participate.
2023 International AIDS Candlelight Memorial
This year, the theme for the candlelight memorial was Changemakers. We recognised the role of volunteers in the response to HIV, the importance of allies to the HIV community and how people living with HIV have used volunteerism to challenge stigma and discrimination. This was our first in-person event since 2019 without COVID restrictions was held in 2023, and 100 people attended.
RMIT Consent Week & Pride Week
In early August 2022 we worked with the Student Collective and the RMIT Queer Department to participate in RMIT Consent Week, with a stall at the city campus’ weekly “Chill n Grill”. Later that month we held a stall at RMIT Pride week.
We met with dozens of students at our marquee to chat about HIV, answer questions and share resources and information in English and other community languages.
We had more than 75 conversations with students about a range HIV topics and about the work we do at LPV, and disseminated 280 resources. We also screened basic HIV information in in six community languages.
Planet Positive is a social event for all men, women, trans and gender-diverse people living with HIV, their friends and families.
Our volunteers contributed across range of roles, through assisting with community events, forums and festivals, facilitating peer education workshops, fundraising, communications.
We held 3 volunteer inductions this year, and engaged dozens of volunteers across events including World AIDS Day, International AIDS Candlelight Memorial and Planet Positive events.
Our volunteer Board of Directors give tirelessly to the governance of this organisation.
We are grateful to our amazing volunteer peer facilitators who give their weekend and weeknight time to run peer workshops for the positive community.
Thanks also to Wutti, who volunteered with is and shared his marketing and health communications skills in developing our 2023 Pride March messaging.
International HIV Long Term Survivors Awareness Day
Our Positive Reflections and Positive Relationships workshops are proving popular with both recently diagnosed clients and our more established clients.
Engagement in the Positive Reflections workshop, in particular, has encouraged clients to reflect on their HIV journey and their desire to contribute to our community, either as Positive Speakers Bureau trainees, as volunteers or as Board members.
The Positive Relationships workshops have been very successful, with the vast majority of participants reporting that they felt more empowered to make considered decisions about how and whether to talk about their HIV status with other people in a way that was supportive and safe.
- Three-hour workshop
- Four facilitators (two paid staff and two volunteers)
- Up to 10 participants
- To provide our clients with the knowledge of HIV disclosure in the context of the law
- To provide an opportunity to meet and learn about HIV disclosure from a sero-discordant couple
- To acquire skills and knowledge on how to disclose their HIV status in different settings
- To develop a nuanced understanding of HIV disclosure based on the lived experiences of other positive folks
- 5 Workshops in 2022-23
- Delivered to defined groups including: gay and bi+ men and MSM; and women and heterosexual men
- Average of 8 people per workshop, age range from early 20s to late 60s
- 55% of participants were from multicultural backgrounds
Hope & Reassurance
“I really loved this workshop as this was an immediate concern that was bothering me before. Hearing other's peoples’ experiences gave me the encouragement to share my own story.”
“I learnt so many things and aspects of HIV since engaging with LPV and I feel lighter and more knowledgeable about where I want to be in the future. The energy and the vibe that has been so encouraging has been my biggest take away.”
“I love being able to do this kind of stuff because my form of therapy is talking and sharing and listening to other people share so for me. It makes you feel not as alone when you know you're in the same room and you have a lot of people that you didn't realise you emphasise or relate with in some way.”
“I joined because I have a yearning for new networks. My friends don't know what I'm going through, so having people around me feels really important. I also want to volunteer. I ended up having a conversation with one of the participants after the workshop and talked for a good hour after the workshop and shared a lot of the mental turmoil of diagnosis. It was nice to meet someone with a similar journey.”
- Three-hour workshop
- Four facilitators (two paid staff and two volunteers)
- Five selected participants of diverse age, gender, sexuality and cultural background
- To provide a space for our clients to experience the diversity of the positive community
- To provide a platform where positive folks can talk about their experience among their peers
- To provide an opportunity for them to reflect on their own growth and resilience
- 4 Workshops in 2022/23
- Delivered to defined groups including: gay and bi+ men and MSM; women and heterosexual men; and people of Asian heritage.
- 20 Participants
- 62.5% of participants were from multicultural backgrounds, age range from early 20s to late 60s
“I loved having the diverse voices and not just the people that I talk to on a general basis. The power of stories just reinforced to me [that] allowing yourself to be vulnerable and power and telling your own stories is very important."
“I really love the diversity of the group. It was good to see older people living with HIV and women and not just grouping us based on sexuality. Reinforces that idea that not only gay men live with HIV and seeing that in our group gave me some relief.”
“I had been involved in the peer community and gotten so many benefits from it and its never been examined, now that I've done research and see other processes of other people, its helped me reflect on my own journey. It has helped me build a closer relationship with our community.”
“After the workshop, I realised that there's a lot of things we talked about that I've never talked about before. There were so many things about it that I never had the chance to think about it because I've been ignoring it so long. for me, I realised the different impacts HIV had in my life.”
“Everyone had very different stories. We had 68 years of experience and stories among people. it was really good to just see how much we've come through and how far we've come through. It's given me hope about having a future here in this country and grateful of the life we have.”
“Sometimes, I leave the house feeling upset with my family but after being in the workshop, it just makes you so lucky to have what you have.”
Awarded at the discretion of the President to an individual, group or organisation within the broader community that has demonstrated visionary leadership in improving the quality of life for HIV-positive people. Often the recipient will have served over a long period and contributed to high-level improvements in services for HIV-positive people and to an increased level of awareness of HIV issues.
Carlos Araya / Adam Bratt / John Cole / Clint Dowdell / Sarah Hocking / Anna Lastova / Stephanie Lee / Jessi Lewis / Deodata Masvosva / John James Musa / Jeffrey Robertson / Philip Ryan
The recipients of this year’s President’s Award are recognised for their individual commitment to our community and lasting contribution to Living Positive Victoria by appearing in our Strategic Plan 2023-28. Their actions are a testament to Living Positive Victoria’s mission to enable and empower all individuals affected by and living with HIV to be part of the response.
COMMUNITY CHAMPION AWARD
Awarded to an individual, group or organisation that has had a significant impact on the lives of people living with HIV through a sustained and extraordinary contribution that supports and empowers our positive community.
Tapuwa has been nominated for the award due to his outstanding contribution and commitment to our Multicultural Working Group and our ongoing partnership with The Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH). Tapuwa was an exceptional addition the Multicultural Working Group. He was always forthcoming with ideas and his ability to share his experiences and work collaboratively within the group allowed for a pilot migration workshop to be successfully delivered which is now a staple program of LPV.
As we deliver our strategic plan and develop our multicultural engagement plan it's imperative that we continue to foster great partnerships with incredible people like Tapuwa and organisations such as CEH. By sharing our knowledge, skills and experiences we can build a better future for all people living with HIV.
Awarded to a volunteer who has provided outstanding service contributing towards our vision of a world where people living with HIV in Victoria live their lives to their full potential, in good health and free from discrimination.
Pawan continues to be one of the most exciting and up and coming HIV advocates in Australia. From someone who was diagnosed only a couple of years ago, from being one of our clients, to now being the lead for the first Positive South Asian Group in Australia, a part of our Multicultural Working Group, and one of the Board of Directors at Living Positive Victoria, Pawan's strength, passion and growth embodies the future that we're trying to create for all positive folks in Australia. He represents young people living with HIV, who have migrated here to create a meaningful life with his community.
Pawan’s generosity in providing informal peer support for individuals who have struggled to connect to our organisation continues to model the way for others.
Our diversity as a community is what gives us the resilience and the capacity to remain responsive to a growing and ever-changing community. Pawan is invaluable to the work we do alongside the positive community in Victoria as his involvement helps identify the diverse issues that matter in our communities.