Parliament: Interesting Speeches

Positive Life South Australia Inc.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: Today, I would like to speak about a community organisation that does some fantastic work on an incredibly tight budget for people living with HIV. The organisation used to be known as People Living with HIV/AIDS SA, or PLWHA-SA, but is now Positive Life, and I am very thankful for that because it is much easier to say. Positive Life SA is a small community organisation based in Glandore in the inner southern suburbs of metropolitan Adelaide.

I was very pleased to attend Positive Life’s base at Glandore for an MP open-day session in February, and I met a number of paid and voluntary staff as well as board members. All Positive Life SA board members are HIV-positive themselves. I was really impressed with the professionalism, positive attitudes—pun intended—and work ethic of everyone I met.

At their modest Glandore premises, they run a range of programs and services. They connect with their community and provide peer support programs including Poz Day Out, HIV treatment forums, Planet Positive, Living Up, Poz on Poz and Chat Club. Their services include complimentary health services, an emergency food program called The Hive, a small loans program, a no-interest loans scheme and the Positive Speakers Bureau. They also have health promotion resources, short-term support, referrals to other support agencies, advocacy, treatment information and a community drop-in reading library, internet access, family spaces and games areas.

Positive Life SA Inc. evolved out of a history of community meetings held by HIV-positive community members and was incorporated in April 1995. The organisation thus became an independent voice for HIV-positive people in South Australia to ensure their lived experiences directed the provision of effective health and wellbeing support services and activities.

As a peer-driven organisation, Positive Life SA is led by a community-elected HIV-positive board of management and has grown from modest beginnings to become an integral provider of information, advocacy and support to HIV-positive people in South Australia. Since July of 2009, Positive Life SA has been reorienting its service provision from individual client case management to a population health promotion approach involving the delivery of lifestyle engagement and change management programs that build HIV-positive people’s capacity for self-management and increased quality of life.

I was also really impressed when I attended a workshop Positive Life SA ran on 19 April this year with Victorian-based Dr Chris Lemoh about culturally and linguistically diverse communities in the HIV sector, health service provision and mental health. It was a great morning, and Dr Lemoh has a wealth of experience and research from his work in Africa around HIV/AIDS. With increasing numbers of people from Africa in Australia, it is great to see them working on specific cultural issues for Africans with HIV and AIDS and their families and communities.

As someone who is passionate about human rights issues, I was really pleased to see Positive SA adhering to the keystone principles and practices of the Ottawa Charter (1986) and the Jakarta Declaration (1997) and actively working to balance the wishes and needs of individuals with the longer term issues affecting the wellbeing, longevity and quality of life of all HIV-positive people. Additionally, Positive Life SA is committed to the principles underpinning the GIPA (Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV, UN 1994) and actively seeks to involve and sustain HIV‑positive people across all aspects of the organisation.

I know that with cuts being made with the McCann review of health services, and overall budgetary belt tightening occurring in SA Health, community bodies that provide vital services to specific sectors are very nervous about funding. Whatever happens, I certainly hope that this organisation maintains funding into future years as it does a great job for the people that it provides services to—people who are already vulnerable and alienated enough. I certainly hope that governments will continue to support these people because they certainly need it.