• Counselling


    Our Counselling Team specialises in providing LGBTIQ competent support to Canberrans, with a strong knowledge base of professional qualifications and lived experience.

    Find out more

  • Check It Out Podcast

    Check It Out Podcast

    New episode out now: Media personality and producer, Karl Schmid joins us to talk about coming out as HIV positive in the spotlight, and everything that followed.

    Listen now

  • Become a Member

    Become a Member

    Council members receive discounts, information and news on sexual health, can access free services and importantly, support the ongoing work of the Council.

    Find out more

Our Patron


John Mackay Our PatronIn 2015 the AIDS Action Council welcomed John Mackay as the first official AIDS Action Council patron. Mr Mackay continues to make an invaluable contribution towards achieving the goals of the AIDS Action Council by transferring the innovative and proactive attitude evident throughout his considerable career to combat discrimination and improve public awareness of HIV/AIDS.

Mr Mackay was inspired to join the Council after the death of two of his brothers from AIDS related illnesses within weeks of one another. It was during this time that John first noted the close knit, supportive community of friends and community groups that rallied around the Mackay family.

“It was at a time when AIDS was very new to Australia, one of my brothers was in the first five or 10 people diagnosed in this country and people were terrified of it, they didn't understand it,” Mr Mackay said. “I think there was a fair bit of homophobia going on in Australia at that time. I think in some states if you were homosexual you could still be charged with a crime so it was a pretty tough time all around.” 

“I think [the perception] of AIDS has changed a lot. It’s now much better understood and there's much less fear about it which is a good thing,” he said. “I think it is a message we need to get to right across Canberra and if that involves going on knocking on some doors in the Assembly or in Parliament or in business, then I’ll be very keen to help them,” Mr Mackay said.

We look forward to an ongoing relationship with John, who adds his experience, wisdom and skills to our goal of ending new transmissions by 2020.

More about John Mackay

You can find a comprehensive biography of John Mackay here, along with a list of John's recent awards and distinctions below.

  • 2004 Member of the Order of Australia (AM)
  • 2008 Canberra Citizen of the Year for his contribution to the ACT community, especially as an exceptional business leader and through committed service to a wide range of community and charity causes
  • 2009 Honorary Doctorate, University of Canberra
  • 2012 Grand Officer of the Order of Bernardo O’Higgins, Chile (this is the highest award conferred on a foreign citizen, and is for achievements in the field of arts, sciences, education, industry, trade, humanitarian and social cooperation)
AIDS Garden of Reflection

The AIDS Garden of Reflection is a living tribute to those lost to AIDS and in support of those living with HIV.

Designed as a place of contemplation, the garden provides an opportunity for families, friends and supporters to honour those lost to HIV and AIDS, to heal, reflect and develop hope.

Located next to the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion in the Arboretum’s Gallery of Gardens, it has been designed to provide a sense of calm and comfort, a special haven featuring a curving arbour with red flowering climbers and a shallow rock pond. A series of benches and rock seating arranged throughout the garden enable visitors to reflect individually, or in small gatherings.

The Garden was the brainchild of Richard Allen (also known as Rachel) who came up with the idea of the garden in 2006 after losing a friend to HIV. Richard said that the idea of the garden was to give people a way to remember those affected by the disease that isn’t a cemetery setting. “I wanted somewhere to remember my friends who I lost too soon. Going to a cemetery is so hard because you’re surrounded by people that loved ones have buried. I wanted the garden to be somewhere tranquil, peaceful and heartfelt to be with the people we’ve lost in spirit.”

The garden was made possible through years of fund raising and advocacy by a group of people living with HIV, their families and friends, and the support of the AIDS Action Council. Major funds were supplied by ActewAGL, our own Patron John Mackay, the Snow Foundation, the AIDS Trust of Australia, the ACT Government, the John James Foundation, King O’Malley’s and the National Arboretum, who have contributed to a giant community effort.

Designed by John Patrick Landscape Architects, the Garden was opened on 2 April 2017.

Our History


The first meeting of the ACT AIDS Action Committee was held in 1983 when a group of gay men living in the ACT met to respond to the looming AIDS crisis. This group then formalised and established itself as the AIDS Action Council of the ACT in March 1985. The AIDS Action Council of the ACT became an Incorporate Association in 1986.

Within a year of being established, the Council recognised the need to work closely with the affected communities. Specific projects were established for gay men, injecting drug users, sex workers and people with haemophilia. Care teams, treatments information and counselling were provided to people with HIV and AIDS and their significant others. From this time also, general community awareness, information and advocacy became vital work for the agency.

With the changing decade it became increasingly clear that most cases of HIV in Australia were the result of male to male sexual contact. Independent services such as ACTIV (ACT Intravenous League), WISE (Workers In Sex Employment) and the Haemophilia Foundation ACT were providing services for their respective peer groups and the Council more clearly focussed its prevention services towards gay and bisexual men. At this time, services were added to deliver broader HIV education and health promotion directly to people with HIV/AIDS.

Today, the Council is a public benevolent institution assisting people impacted by HIV. The Council provides a variety of services, education programs and works to raise awareness of HIV to reduce stigma and educate on the importance of prevention, treatment and testing through events, communications and working with affected communities. We are proud of our diverse workplace and those who work here.

The AIDS Action Council of the ACT is an incorporated association under the Associations Incorporation Act 1991 and registered as a charity under the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission Act (Cth) 2012.

The Council is a public benevolent institution established to assist people impacted by HIV. We do this through the provision of services, on the basis of need, to relieve suffering of people affected by HIV and AIDS which includes the provision of:

  • mental health services
  • social support services
  • legal advocacy
  • assistance obtaining medical treatment
  • general advice
  • financial and other emergency assistance

We advocate on behalf of the community of people affected by HIV and AIDS, campaigning and undertaking programs to reduce the incidence of HIV and AIDS by fostering a supportive community.

The Council is led by the Executive Director who works closely with the Board of Directors.

Organisational Structure


Download the AIDS Action Council Constitution here


Download the AIDS Action Council Strategic Plan here.

Our RECONCILIATION ACTION PLAN & acknowledgement of country

Our Reconciliation Action Plan is currently under review. In the meantime, click here to read our current RAP.

The AIDS Action Council recognises the need to develop a structured and holistic approach for strengthening our work and relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, especially those who may be impacted by HIV or at risk of HIV. AIDS Action Council acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders both past and present.

By developing a Reconciliation Action Plan, the Council hopes to clearly identify actions and realistic targets detailing steps and priorities which advise on the rights, health and dignity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are impacted by HIV or at risk of HIV. The Council established a working group with representation from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Presentations and organisational discussions ensured all areas of the Organisation were represented by the RAP working group members.

Become a Volunteer

The AIDS Action Council was founded on the hard work and dedication of volunteers. The role of volunteers as an integral part of combating HIV continues today. If you support the vision and the mission of the Council and have a desire to help us with our work, you will be welcomed as part of a dedicated team of volunteers. There are no rules about the amount of time you would be expected to devote to volunteering with the Council and there are many ways that people can help us do our work.

Volunteers must become financial members of the AIDS Action Council of the ACT to be covered by the Council’s public liability and personal accident insurance policies. A special reduced membership rate is offered to volunteers. You can find out more about the benefits of membership here.

It is a policy of the AIDS Action Council that all volunteers must complete a Working with Vulnerable People’s Check. This is free if you are applying for it in a volunteer position. If you have one for another organisation, we will need to cite your card, as well as be aware of any restrictions that may be in place.

Volunteer Training

As a volunteer of the Council you get access to a range of training opportunities. All volunteers who will be doing any work to represent the Council, such as working on a stall or working on reception, need to do the basic volunteer training. This short training session is run regularly and introduces volunteers to the work of the Council and information about HIV that will help them in their roles.

Other training is provided as necessary for specific roles, such as workshop facilitation, STRIP sexual health clinic outreach and NSP training.

Volunteer Opportunities

  • New opportunities are updated as they become available.
  • Peer Education Facilitation (for gay and same-sex attraction identifying men and women)
  • STRIP Sexual Health Clinic Outreach
  • Reception
  • Stallholder Assistants
  • Event Assistants
  • Education Assistants
  • Canberra Gay Community Periodic Survey
  • Research Assistants
  • Counselling

If you would like to help with any of the above opportunities, or have ideas for projects and ways that you would like to assist the work of the Council that are not listed here, please contact the Community Engagement Officer on 02 6257 2855 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Community Partner Organisations

A Gender Agender
An organisation that provides a range of co-ordinated health and community health care services.


SHFPACT's purpose is improved sexual and reproductive health for the Canberra community.


Northside Community Service
Northside works to provide and develop support and services for residents of North Canberra


An organisation that provides a range of co-ordinated health and community health care services


Capital Health Network
Supporting general practice, aged care and community care services in Canberra


Hepatitis ACT
Working to prevent hepatitis transmission and reduce the impacts


NSW Health
NSW Health covers all aspects of public and sexual health in NSW


Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service
Winnunga Nimmityjah is an Aboriginal community health care service


Delivering programs and services to people impacted by alcohol, drugs and other addictions


CAHMA is a peer based organisation concerned with the use of illicit drugs


Health Care Consumers Association
The Health Care Consumers’ Association (HCCA) provides a voice for consumers on local health issues, policy development and decision making.


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Copyright © 2018 AIDS Action Council of the ACT
AIDS Action Council acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders both past and present.


Donate to the AIDS Action Council or the Trevor Daley Fund. Donations over $2 are tax deductible. Call 6257 2855 or email us for more details.