On Saturday March 25, while on holiday in Taiwan, WA AIDS Council CEO Andrew Burry sadly passed away, after a suspected heart attack.
Andrew's commitment to WAAC was absolute. And, his service to the cause of HIV/AIDS awareness was not only life long, but was of such magnitude that its benefits will be felt for countless years to come.
In the last six months alone Andrew was instrumental in creating a new strategic plan for the Council; negotiating full ownership of our head office at 664 Murray Street West Perth; he successfully tendered for a contract to develop a Methamphetamine Peer Education Project and more recently, secured $420,000.00 from the WA Government to establish a WA PreP Demonstration Project for the wider community. Andrew did all this while running a $4 million agency of 43 employees and around 70 volunteers; not to mention, helping a new Board of Governance find their feet through his resolute warmth, patience and generosity-of-spirit.
From M Clinic to the Freedom Centre, from NSEP to STYLEAID and from SHAPE to the Safe Schools Network, Andrew's work was prodigious and his far-reaching influence will be with us, always.
Tributes for Andrew have been overwhelming. Here are just a few:
"On behalf of the Acacia Health Centre staff we extend our sincere sympathy on the passing of your CEO Andrew Burry."
"I'm very sorry to hear of this news, I am sure it is a very difficult time at WAAC. My sincere condolences to you and the other staff."
"That's such heartrending news to hear. My heartfelt syympathy is with WAAC and Andrew's immediate family. May he rest in eternal peace"
"Very sad to hear the passing of anyone but he leaves a legacy and will be remembered for years"
"Condolences to the loved ones and colleagues of Andrew Burry CEO of the WA AIDS Council. Andrew has been a strong advocate for the wellbeing of people living with HIV and a significant contributor to the HIV response in Australia."
Senator Louise Pratt spoke in Federal Parliament to acknowledge Andrew's life and work. A video of the speech can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/SenatorLouisePratt/videos/1472569366150386/
The transcript is as follows:
Senator PRATT (Western Australia) (19:55): It is with sadness that I rise this evening to acknowledge the passing of Andrew Burry. His passing, this week, has come as a great shock to a great many people. Now is not the time for long tributes, but I do want to join with all those in the HIV and LGBTI communities in acknowledging his passing. Andrew recently served as the CEO of the Western Australian AIDS Council for some four years. He has also served as the vice-president of the Australian Federation of AIDS Councils and is well known here in the ACT as the former general manager of the AIDS Action Council of the ACT. He has also been part of the Victorian AIDS Council and sat on the board of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations.
In rising tonight to pay tribute briefly to Andrew, I really want to acknowledge what a significant contributor he has been to the HIV response in Australia. His knowledge, expertise and experience is going to be sorely missed by a great many, especially in my home state of WA. He was well-known as having an irreverent sense of humour but also as a strong champion for disaffected communities. He was a leader in both the HIV and LGBTI communities. As I said before, over a very long time he was an active and significant contributor to the HIV response in Australia. I want to join with people from a wide range of organisations in expressing my condolences to his family tonight.
Andrew Burry served the Australian community with distinction and purpose. The President of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, Dr Bridget Haire, said:
Andrew's powerful, robust advocacy was informed by an unshakeable conviction that community-led responses matter. His leadership, and the AIDS Council's standing, were recognised by the WA Government, which has announced that the Western Australian PrEP trial will be largely managed through WAAC's M Clinic.
Dr Haire also said:
His insights and experience have contributed greatly to AFAO's mission.
It is no small feat to get a PrEP trial up and running in Western Australia, and I think it is really testament to Andrew's great community engagement capacity and his community leadership. ACON's CEO, Nicolas Parkhill, said:
Many in the HIV sector knew Andrew to be a wonderful person who contributed a great deal to the Australian HIV response, in many roles, over many years. Countless people around the country will miss him greatly on both personal and professional levels.
Tonight, in briefly acknowledging Andrew's passing, we have lost a great community advocate. I pay tribute to the legacy that I know he will leave to the community for a great many years to come.