National Members Forum 2020 held virtually during COVID-19 restrictions

This year, the NAPWHA national forum of its membership met together in a one-day event, for the first time, physically distanced, each on our local Aboriginal lands, by video conference.

“Who could have imagined in October 2019, when we came together for the NAPWHA AGM in Sydney, the challenges of the months ahead for our organisations and our communities,” stated NAPWHA President, Scott Harlum in an opening address.

“COVID-19 has challenged us all. With these changed and rapidly changing times as our backdrop, it is timely that the network of community organisations representing people with HIV who come together under the banner of NAPWHA membership do so for our annual member’s forum for 2020.”

Below are some of the forum’s agenda items and some of the presentations expanded.

State of the Association: ED Report

Aaron Cogle (NAPWHA Executive Director) presented on the State of the Association, including:

NAPWHA Board election results

Scott Harlum (NAPWHA President) announced the Board election result of an Ordinary Director to serve on the NAPWHA Board of Directors.

“On behalf of the Board and the Association I thank each of the nominees for putting themselves forward for this election, and congratulate and welcome Michael Brown.”

This appointment goes until October 2020, at which time it will be recontested as a full term position in elections conducted in the lead up to the NAPWHA Annual General Meeting.

Michael is a Kalkadoon, Barada Barna, Wangi Man. Living in Cairns, Queensland. Michael has worked in alcohol and drug recovery and rehabilitation, homelessness, youth in care, disabilities and aged care. After his HIV diagnosis in 2016 Michael has worked as Indigenous Peer Navigator at Queensland Positive People, Health Worker and Peer on the HIV Response Team at Cairns Sexual Health Service and joined the Board of PATSIN (Positive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Network).

Currently Michael is the Outreach Senior Health Promotion Officer, Sexual Health Educator at Wuchopperen Health Service Ltd working on improving knowledge, education and access to sexual health testing and treatment. He is a passionate peer and advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples living with HIV and the improvement and implementation of culturally appropriate supports and services.

Other National Forum agenda items

Other parts of the meeting agenda consisted of:

  • Chris Howard (QPP) chaired a roundtable report back of NAPWHA and jurisdictional State and Territory responses to COVID-19
  • Charlie Tredway (NAPWHA Project Officer) who presented the preliminary results of a PLHIV Survey
  • Adrian Ogier (NAPWHA Deputy Director) and Richard Keane (Living Positive Victoria) launched the Australian HIV Peer Support Standards – a new NAPWHA publication describing the requisite skills and competencies required of a peer supporter; what can be expected of evidence-informed practice of peer support programs; and the benefit that peer support brings to the HIV-affected community
  • Rob Monaghan (Monaghan Consulting) who informed NAPWHA members of the first phase of work required to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)
  • Lance Feeney (Positive Life NSW) who presented on the importance of DARE or Digital Ano-Rectal Examination, which is an easy way to check for anal abnormalities that could lead to anal cancer.
  • Meredith Turnbull (Consultant) provided a overview and report back on a forum of National Network of Women with HIV from across Australia who met in Sydney on 10 March (following the National Day of Women Living with HIV). The forum provided an opportunity for women living with and working in HIV to connect, share information, learn from each other and provide feedback to NAPWHA, particularly on the question, “How do we best engage to deliver for and with women living with HIV in 2020 and beyond”
  • Michelle Tobin announced fantastic news of her appointment as Aboriginal Health Project Officer at Positive Life NSW
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