A new name for a new era
The AIDS Action Council is changing names. As we move forward, we’ll be called Meridian Incorporated. We made this important decision collectively at our annual general meeting (AGM) on 20 November, with an overwhelming majority of 48 to three members voting in favour of the new name.
The decision comes on the back of a great deal of consideration and consultation. We listened to members, volunteers, staff, and stakeholders. While AIDS Councils across Australia are trusted institutions, our evolution as a community-controlled organisation has seen us outgrow our identity.
We’ve been working toward the virtual elimination of HIV for almost 30 years. And while there is still a long way to go, pursuing this objective remains at the core of our mission. As time goes on, however, it’s important to note the changing face of the epidemic. HIV rates are rising in new population cohorts, including migrants and refugees (particularly women and Asian men), Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, and men who have sex with men but do not identify as gay or bisexual.
Things are also changing in our work with LGBTIQ+ communities more broadly, as well as with sex workers and their clients and people who use drugs. To truly respond to the new and diverse needs of the communities we serve, we too must evolve. By expanding, adapting, and improving our services, we are leading the response to the changing face of the HIV epidemic and LGBTIQ+ health and wellbeing. And with a new name, we are embracing a new era.
The Meridian Club was the first and only community-owned, community-led social organisation for the ACT LGBTIQ+ community. It operated for over 20 years during the 80s and 90s. It was run as a community co-op and provided social gatherings that were inclusive, friendly, diverse and fun.
The Meridian Club and the Council were both born of community needs and have a shared history and values. The Meridian Club hosted many community building and community engagement events and activities over the years, including HIV-positive networks, an HIV-positive women’s collective, drag shows, and the mature aged gay men’s network. At one stage, it was the Council’s only source of funding. The spirit of the Meridian Club continues in many of the Council’s activities.
The founders of the Meridian Club chose the name on the basis that meridian lines gave early astronomers and explorers a sense of place. Now as then, we look forward to building this sense of place for all of our members.
Re-branding the Council is a considerable undertaking, and we have a lot of work to do before our go-live date in February 2020. I feel an enormous sense of responsibility for ensuring the transition goes smoothly, but more than that, I am immensely proud to lead the organisation into this new era. We want to future-proof our identity, while never losing sight of our connection to the past. So watch this space as we develop and evolve for an even more inclusive future.
Also at the AGM, Council President Adam Stankevicius briefed members about the implementation and impact of our HIV prevention, HIV support, and LGBTIQ+ health programs and support services throughout the 2018-2019 financial year. Ongoing and outgoing Board members were also confirmed. Tim Dyke and Alex Durrant, who are both leaving us to embark on new journeys of their own, said they were grateful for the opportunities they had at the Council, and proud of the important contributions they made to the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ people and people affected by HIV during their time with us.
Wayne Herbert was re-elected alongside Jacob White, George Brenan, and Leanne Staggard, with all three set to serve a two-year term until the 2021 AGM. Board-appointed directors Adam Stankevicius, Elena Rosenman, Aaron Wright, and Joel Radcliffe will continue with their terms as appointed.