Today the Board of the WA AIDS Council announced Peter ‘Willie’ Rowe as Interim CEO, following the death of Chief Executive Officer Andrew Burry at the weekend.
Mr Rowe has a long association with the Council, having served on its Board for over 10 years, including three as Chairperson. Mr Rowe has also served as the President of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO), and was most recently Chief of Staff to former Premier Colin Barnett in WA State Government.
Current Board Chair Asanka Gunasekera thanked Mr Rowe for offering his knowledge and experience in this challenging time. “We are very grateful to have Willie step in to the role on such short notice and to provide support and leadership at a crucial period for the Council.”
Mr Rowe will begin work immediately and will be tasked with developing the recently announced pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, trial which is due to begin in mid-2017.
The WA AIDS Council has been overwhelmed with messages of condolence and support in recent days following Mr Burry's passing. The Board and staff would like to acknowledge these kind words and thoughts at a difficult time.
The Board also announced the creation of a Search, Recruitment and Selection sub-committee to find a permanent CEO.
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.
With shock and great sadness, the WA AIDS Council advises of the passing of Chief Executive Officer Andrew Burry. Andrew suffered a suspected heart attack while on holiday in Taiwan on Saturday March 25.
Andrew served as CEO at the Council for over four years, held the position of Vice President for the Australian Federation of AIDS Councils, was formally General Manager of the AIDS Action Council of the ACT and also worked at the Victorian AIDS Council. Andrew was an active and significant contributor to the HIV response in Australia whose knowledge, expertise and experience will be sorely missed.
The WA AIDS Council’s Murray Street office will be closed for two days, Monday 27th and Tuesday 28th March. Services for clients, with the exception of the Murray Street Needle and Syringe Exchange Program, will not be affected. The Council remains committed to the well being of clients and people living with HIV.
The Board of the Council are considering interim arrangements and further announcements are expected in coming days.
The Council would like to extend our sympathies to Andrew’s loved ones, and ask for the respect of their privacy at this time.
National Day of Women Living with HIV — promoting awareness
Celebrate. Advocate. Inspire. Empower.
March 9 will be the second National Day of Women Living with HIV. Coming the day after International Women's Day, this awareness-raising day was created by Femfatales, a network of women living with HIV of the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA).
"We are aiming to create a greater awareness of the needs of women living with HIV in Australia, "said Femfatales Chair, Katherine Leane. "It's hard to believe that in 2017 some people don't think that there are women living with HIV in this country. But there are around 3, 000 of us, or about 10 percent of the HIV-positive population."
Because of the perception that women are not at risk of HIV, women don't test for it. Many women who are diagnosed with HIV here have never tested for it previously, not believing they were at risk. This can present them with serious health challenges as a late diagnosis can mean that they have developed a compromised immune system and sometimes, an AIDS-defining illness.
"On top of this, many suburban and regional GPs have never diagnosed someone with HIV, do not always recognise the symptoms or risk factors and are not sure where to refer patients for specialist care. It is very important that women diagnosed in these settings get referred to appropriate medical care and to the peer support agencies that can help people with their diagnoses.
"The more people talk about HIV, the more we encourage women to test for it, the more we will be able to diagnose and treat women appropriately. This is the aim of this special day," said Kath."We encourage all agencies involved with and concerned about women's sexual health to hold a morning or afternoon tea or other event to help raise awareness of HIV agencies that support women living with and affected by HIV."
For more details contact:
Femfatales Convenor, Katherine Leane
0410 707 923
NAPWHA Executive Director, Aaron Cogle
0468 438 214
NAPWHA is Australia's peak non-government organisation representing community-based groups of people living with HIV. NAPWHA provides advocacy, policy, representation, health promotion and outreach at a national level.
BBV Informed Consent Training has been run by the WA AIDS Council for over 12 years. This interactive 2 day training is aimed at health professionals or counsellors equipping them with skills and knowledge to provide an effective BBV pre-test discussion. For the first time, the course went regional and provided the training in Geraldton to 12 staff members from different departments of Geraldton Regional Hospital.
This collaboration with Geraldton hospital was over 9 months in the making and thanks to the support of Mandy Pirrottina Clinical Nurse Specialist Infection Prevention and Control of WA Country Health Service Midwest, saw us in Geraldton on the 27th & 28th of February.
The feedback from the attendees was very positive;
"While the focus of the course is HIV, the learning outcomes can be easily adapted for any chronic illness. It really exceeded our expectations and I recommend this training to either yourselves, Learning and Development or your public health services.”
Clinical Nurse Specialist Infection Prevention and Control
WA Country Health Service Midwest
The Safe Schools team visited Kalgoorlie and Esperance 13th – 17th February, holding a sell-out workshop in Kalgoorlie on the Monday and another in Esperance on the Thursday. We connected with 32 staff across 12 different schools/organisations in the after-school workshops and look forward to following their journeys to improve LGBTI+ inclusivity at their schools!
A special shout out to headspace Kalgoorlie and Escare in Esperance for hosting our workshops, and to the Goldfields Aboriginal Sexual Health Promotion team for their support and promotion of our visit to the region.
We will be visiting the South West and Pilbara regions in May this year – get in touch with Olivia if you’d like to arrange a meeting and/or LGBTI inclusivity PD at your school/organisation, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date 3rd March 2017
Headline: New website allows LGBTIQ community to refer and rank local services
LGBTIQ Australians searching for friendly and respectful support services have been given a boost after a new website was launched to share community experiences about safe and friendly health and service providers.
The RAD Australia website is the result of a collaborative research project between LGBTIQ community organisations and universities, and provides a referral database website with review functions for service listings.
The website was developed after the research of the You Learn From Each Other report, which researched the experiences of LGBTIQ young people in seeking mental health support, and how digital media tools could reduce barriers to seeking help.
The project found that LGBTIQ young people regularly turned to their peers for recommendations of health and community services that were known to be supportive and respectful to LGBTIQ young people.
“We knew that young people were facing barriers, so through the Young and Well CRC partnership we were able to collaborate to get the evidence and create a tool that aims to reduce those barriers,” says Dani Wright Toussaint, Freedom Centre Coordinator
For the report, community level research took place at Freedom Centre (Perth) and Twenty10 (Sydney), with each organisation finding a clear need to research the mental health help-seeking experiences of LGBTIQ young people to establish evidence of their needs.
Common negative experiences young people reported include health professionals being judgemental, not listening, as well as seeing sexuality and gender diversities as “just a phase”. In addition, many lacked knowledge of gender identities, were unwilling to use preferred names and pronouns, gave streamlined and impersonal service, and made young people feel that it was their responsibility to educate service providers about LGBTIQ diversity.
“Young people are asking friends and peers for advice before approaching a health service, often because of past bad experiences, or negative stories they’ve heard. We saw an opportunity to accommodate this in the RAD Australia website.” Paul Byron, Research Project Officer
For more information about the website, please visit
RAD Australia: https://www.radaustralia.org.au/
‘You Learn From Each Other’: LGBTIQ Young People’s Mental Health Help-seeking and the
RAD Australia Online Directory report: http://researchdirect.westernsydney.edu.au/islandora/object/uws:38815
The project was a collaboration between Twenty10 incorporating GLCS NSW, The WA AIDS Council’s Freedom Centre, Curtin University and Western Sydney University and was funded by the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre.
For further media information contact:
Dani Wright Toussaint, Freedom Centre Coordinator – WA AIDS Council, (08) 9228 0354, email@example.com
The National LGBTI Health Alliance this week released the National LGBTI Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Strategy, to help reverse the alarming statistics surrounding LGBTI people and their mental health.
LGBTI populations have a heightened risk of mental health diagnosis, psychological distress, self-harm, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts. Studies have shown that medical professionals can sometimes exacerbate the illness by failing to provide adequate and appropriate support.
This Strategy calls for nationally coordinated, evidence-based action to help prevent suicide by supporting organisations and government to develop effective suicide prevention initiatives that acknowledge and affirm the wide variety of bodies, genders, relationships, and sexualities that comprise the Australian population.
To read the strategy, click the image below.
Joanne is a Registered Nurse with post graduate qualifications in critical care, haematology and has a Masters of Nursing leadership and management. Joanne is the Nursing Director of Community and Primary Health Care at North West Hospital Health Service in remote Queensland. This role encompasses oversight of numerous departments and specialities including Sexual Health Service, Women’s Health Service and Indigenous Primary Health Care. Joanne is a member of the North Queensland Sexually Transmissible Infection Action Plan 2016-2021 implementation group.
Joanne has extensive knowledge with strategic and operational leadership of tertiary, rural and remote hospitals to ultimately provide first class, safe, sustainable and family centred care. Joanne is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She has publications in the British Journal of Haematology and is a member of the Australasian College of Health Service Management and the Australian College of Nursing.
The WA AIDS Council is thrilled that the Government has confirmed funding for a WA PrEP demonstration project for 2,000 Western Australians. We’ve pushed this for what seems like forever, and the result is better than we dared to dream. We’ll release more details very soon on our websites and social media. This demonstration project will help eliminate new HIV transmission as we aim for our 2020 goals. CEO Andrew Burry has today made the following statement:
Statement on the Establishment of the WA PrEP Demonstration Project
We are thrilled that funding for the PrEP Demonstration Project has been secured and announced. We have been working hard for this for a long time, although I concede that at times our work may not have been visible. In the end, the outcome was greater than we dared to dream, and with 2,000 places available and the project funded for at least two years, it is the country’s largest on a per capita basis.
Whilst the funding is secured, there is still some work remaining before enrolments can commence. This is a partnership between the WA AIDS Council, the Department of Health and the Kirby Institute. Whilst the partnership has had plenty of dialog leading up to the announcement, final agreements between the parties still need to be concluded. This will not take long.
A ‘Demonstration Project’ is a research study. As such, the program must be run within strict protocols, and Ethics Approval must be obtained for each of the participating clinical sites. Training for the WA Chief Investigator and Research Supervisor(s) is also necessary. There are several sites included to ensure the project is well resourced, including clinical services and support, peer support and so on. Obtaining Ethics Approval is relatively complex and detailed and does take some time. Consequently, we have stated our goal as commencement being early in the second half of 2017. To us, this means July 1st, however if we can be fully ready earlier we will commence earlier.
The Demonstration Project is a criteria-based access program. This means that eligibility for participation will be determined based on HIV risk criteria. The aim is to rapidly enrol eligible people and follow them for up to two years while they take PrEP.
To facilitate the smooth entry of eligible people into the project, we will shortly establish a pre-registration program. Pre-registration will involve providing some details of your personal and sexual histories. All information collected will be secure and confidential.
We will also ensure details of implementation progress will be on both the WA AIDS Council and M Clinic websites. People interested will also be able to subscribe to a special newsletter and questions can be directed to a specific email address (details below).
If you currently feel you need PrEP right now, please consider commencing immediately via the existing PrEP access programs using the personal importation process. Details on how to do this are also on the WA AIDS Council and M Clinic websites. Current or previous PrEP use does not affect eligibility into the project.
There are many people who worked together in making this outcome possible. The team at the Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program of the Department of Health shouldered a huge workload in developing costings of various proposals. The Kirby Institute also provided incredible support in helping us to develop a model that best suits Western Australia and takes advantage of some of our special features.
We aren’t the first ‘cab off the rank’, and similar large demonstration projects are underway in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. Our colleagues at ACON, the Victorian AIDS Council, the Queensland AIDS Council, Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, and the The National Association of People with HIV Australia have tirelessly supported our efforts and occasional disappointments as we worked this through.
I want to acknowledge also the great people in NSW Health who offered extraordinary advice, warned us of potential pitfalls and shared their own experiences so that we can start as efficiently as the NSW program has become. In particular, we acknowledge former NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner, who shone a light of hope when wide scale PrEP access seemed beyond our reach.
Please keep in touch with our progress in the WA PrEP Demonstration Program by accessing our websites, subscribing to our newsletter and through pre-registration when it becomes available.
Chief Executive Officer
For Information on the WA PrEP Demonstration Project: