Following the suddenly passing of CEO Andrew Burry in March 2017, and an extensive recruitment process, the Board of the WA AIDS Council is delighted to announce the appointment of Mr. David Kernohan as Chief Executive Officer.
Mr. Kernohan has held senior executive roles in the not-for-profit sector in Western Australia for over 20 years, most recently as CEO of the Mental Health Law Centre (WA).
“The Board and staff of the WA AIDS Council are delighted to welcome David to the role,” said Chairperson Asanka Gunasekera, “and we look forward to a bright future working together to improve the sexual health of Western Australians, reduce HIV transmissions and support those living with HIV.”
Mr. Kernohan has qualifications in Law (LLB Murdoch University), a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) Edith Cowan University, and Mental Health Nursing (Graylands Hospital). Prior to working in the community legal sector David worked in the community services sector with people who were homeless and had complex needs linked to drug, alcohol and mental health issues.
Mr. Gunasekera also thanked Peter ‘Willie’ Rowe for standing in as Interim CEO following Mr. Burry’s sudden passing until Mr. Kernohan’s appointment.
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October 24 2016
The WA AIDS Council today launches its most significant and extensive World AIDS Day program ever. It aims to ensure that we don’t produce yet another generation of young people who are oblivious to the risk of acquiring HIV. HIV remains incurable, and if undiagnosed and untreated, can lead to fatal acquired immuno-deficiency syndrome or AIDS.
In 2015, Australia recorded 20 new HIV infections every week, and the annual number is about the same as 1989 in the midst of the AIDS crisis.
Council Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Burry, said that this year’s campaign was a response to the growing number of younger people – predominantly male – acquiring the virus. “We need to ensure that HIV is discussed much more in mainstream settings, and we are calling on parents and educators to start the conversation with young people in their care”, he said.
The campaign includes striking billboards in high traffic locations around Perth asking the question; ‘What are we telling our kids about HIV?’ The campaign also includes information and other resources to help start, what for some, may be a potentially awkward discussion.
Mr Burry said that young people today are more vulnerable to HIV than before, given their increasing travel outside Australia, which is frequently to countries where HIV rates are much higher than at home, and where epidemics are rapidly expanding. Adding in the influence of alcohol and other drugs as well as a tendency to change behaviours when overseas can add to the risk.
“If we send our kids into the world without even the most basic information, then we have young people exposing themselves to dangers they weren’t ever aware of” said Mr Burry.
Lack of knowledge also means a lack of motivation to get tested for HIV and other STIs, and since many of these frequently occur without symptoms, the risk of onward transmission is greatly increased.
Younger people embrace technology and talk to larger numbers more regularly than ever before. The WA AIDS Council believes that this also offers a huge potential for raising awareness of HIV and its consequences. Mr Burry said; “There is no doubt that the conversations young people have amongst themselves will have more impact than government sponsored health education campaigns or simple condom promotion, but those conversations need to get started and that’s where educators and parents play a crucial role.”
The WA AIDS Council’s World AIDS Day Campaign will raise community awareness of HIV, but there needs to be a far greater profile in the home and school if young people are to be equipped to make choices that keep them safe.
“If you aren’t talking to your kids about HIV, then maybe nobody is”, said Mr Burry.
In the past week, local news services have reported on the extradition of a transgender sex worker from New South Wales to Western Australia, on an allegation of HIV transmission to a client.
A right to a fair trial, and respect for the personal health and wellbeing of this woman is now of serious concern, given the reporting on the case so far. This emphatically calls into question whether the Australian Press Council’s general principles for publishing, including ‘privacy and avoidance of harm,’ are even understood as a basic standard for social responsibility in ‘reporting the news’, by journalists and editors alike.
For more information, read the full media release here.