Parliament: Questions Kelly's Asked

World AIDS Day – Response

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the minister representing the Minister for Health questions about World AIDS Day and public health service provision for people with HIV/AIDS.

Leave granted.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: As members may well be aware, today is World AIDS Day, as it is every year on 1 December. The aim of the day is to raise awareness across the world and in our local community about the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, including but not limited to prevention, tackling stigma, and providing services to people already living with HIV/AIDS. It is a day to show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have unfortunately been lost to the condition.

Here in South Australia, SA Health has made a significant change to service provisions in programs for HIV/AIDS prevention and support for people who are HIV positive. Despite their excellent engagement with the HIV positive community, programs previously run by Positive Life SA were not awarded the tender—as members would know from my previous contribution in this place—following a new tendering process this year. The successful program run for, I believe, some 30 years, is a collaborative approach between the Victorian AIDS Council and SHine SA and is now called the South Australian Mobilisation and Empowerment for Sexual Health (SAMESH). My questions to the minister are:

1.Given that organisations like Positive Life were run by a board that was 100 per cent HIV positive but are no longer funded, what efforts are being made to include people who live with HIV in the newly funded programs?

2.Are there any peer-led aspects or board to the SAMESH program as there was in Positive Life?

3.While prevention of HIV/AIDS is, of course, vital, support for those who have already acquired HIV is also essential, particularly given the stigma that still exists in 2015; what is the newly funded SAMESH program delivering for South Australians currently living with HIV/AIDS?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers): I thank the honourable member for her most important questions and will refer them to the Minister for Health in another place and bring back a response.

Response received 21/06/16

In reply to the Hon. K.L. VINCENT ( 1 December 2015 ).

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change):

1.-3. On World AIDS Day, 1 December 2015, the Hon Jack Snelling MP, Minister for Health said this:

“The main goal of Australia’s Seventh National HIV Strategy 2014-17 is to work towards achieving the virtual elimination of HIV tran smission in Australia by 2020. In order to make progress on this ambitious goal, the South Australian response will prioritise increased access to voluntary testing, linking people to care and support early and enabling newly diagnosed people to commence treatment as soon as possible to reduce the virus in thei r body to undetectable levels.”

The South Australian response to achieving the goals of the National HIV Strategy 2014-17 involves a partnership approach and central to this is the meaningful involvement of people living with and affected by HIV .

The South Australia Mobilisation and Empowerment for Sexual Health program (SAMESH) is a program of SHine SA and the Victorian AIDS Council.

SAMESH is leading the community response to HIV prevention, in partnership with a range of services funded to provide care and support for people living with HIV, including the Royal District Nursing Service SA, Relationships Australia SA Blood Borne Virus Programs and Centacare Catholic Family Services.

People living with HIV are fully integrated at all levels of SAMESH, including, to date, four individuals living with HIV from diverse backgrounds (for example, Aboriginal or African) who have bee n invited to join the Community  Advisory Committee and one member recommended by the National Association of People with HIV Australia. The inaugural meeting for the Community Advisory Committee is scheduled for early 2016.

Since its inception in July 2015, SAMESH has:

recruited a workforce and volunteer pool of peers living with or affected by HIV;

implemented peer-based services for people living with HIV, including the Phoenix program. Phoenix is a partnership with Clinic 275, the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the OBrien Street and Riverside GP Medical Practices. The service links newly diagnosed HIV people with a HIV positive peer from SAMESH to provide support at diagnosis. Phoenix will also provide a workshop series to support people living with HIV to adopt safe behaviours, build resilience and engage in chronic disease self-management;

employed a qualified counsellor to provide professional, peer based counselling services;

sponsored two people living with HIV to participate in national peer training at the Positive Leadership Development Institute;

distributed safer sex supplies and HIV and STI prevention resources and campaigns, such as Drama Down Under throughout metropolitan Adelaide public spaces; and

led a high profile World AIDS Day and AIDS Awareness Week campaign in South Australia with the support of partners and participated in several Feast Festival events to raise awareness of HIV and the continued stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV experience.

In November 2015 SA Health, in partnership with the National Association of People With HIV Australia, organised a series of workforce development sessions about Poz Action for South Australian service providers. Poz Action is a national, peer led coalition that aims to ensure the response to HIV in Australia continues to place HIV positive people at the forefront. All SAMESH staff participated in a day long workforce development session with the Poz Action group.

In 2016, SAMESH will:

open a stand-alone community site in the CBD to provide a safe space for all people living with or at risk of HIV;

expand its counselling service to include volunteer peer counsellors;

continue to support people living with HIV to attend the Positive Leadership Development Institute; and

participate in research projects related to people living with HIV.

The robust response from the SAMESH team in its first months of operation demonstrates a commitment to the meaningful involvement of people living with and affected by HIV in South Australia. South Australians can look forward to the continuing leadership of SAMESH over the coming months and years.