Victorian AIDS Council and Living Positive Victoria to potentially merge?
Victoria’s two major HIV and AIDS organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Monday, in a move that will see the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) and Living Positive Victoria (LPV) potentially merge within three to five years.
The talk of merging VAC and LPV comes as the environment within the HIV and broader community evolves, and after the Queensland AIDS Council found itself defunded and South Australian AIDS Council collapse recently.
“All smaller community service organisations are looking at how they’ll be viable [in the future], and it’s natural that we would start speaking about what the future holds for us,” VAC CEO, Simon Ruth, told MCV.
Brent Allan, Executive Officer of LPV, said the Memorandum was a step towards sophistication and acknowledged a merger wouldn’t be easy but important.
“What it means is reduced duplication and more ability to be innovative and entrepreneurial,” he told MCV.
“The positive population is changing; we’re not a static population – it’s dynamic, and we need to respond to that,” Allan added.
The cogs of change were also moving with the support of the organisation’s Presidents, recognising that although VAC looks after prevention and LPV support and advocacy, advances in science was changing the way messages were constructed.
“We’ve recognised that people living with HIV are part of the solution, and that engaging those people in care is really important,” LPV President, Ian Muchamore, told MCV.
Muchamore used the jointly branded ‘Ending HIV’ campaign as an example of how the two organisations need to work together already, and how the campaign messages have changed over the years.
“Part of the messaging in the ‘Ending HIV’ campaign also impacts those people living with HIV. We want to know how people are responding to those prevention campaigns. Are people picking up messages about treatment? Are the campaigns that we’re jointly putting out reaching those people?
“We used to think of the two communities, and now we can no longer look at it in that fashion. We need to put our heads together sometimes,” he told MCV.
Greg Carter, VAC president, echoed Muchamore’s position, adding a merge would make sensible use of community resources.
“We’re not doing exactly similar things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work better together, broaden our outreach, and make sensible use of the state’s resources,” he said.
Muchamore added, “I don’t think we have any choice but to work together. As community supported and funded organisations, we have a responsibility to work efficiently”
(Image - Greg Carter, Simon Ruth, Brent Allan, Ian Muchamore)