A new Treasurer, three new board members and a revised program of health and wellbeing services for the next financial year were announced by Healthy Communities today, nearly a year since all the organisation’s Queensland Health funding was controversially cut late last year.
The bold changes come in the wake of industry and community concern for a lack of mental, physical and emotional assistance for the LGBT community, and offer the first optimistic turn-around for the organisation since the cuts were announced.
The defunding made Queensland the only Australian state not to have a government funded peer organisation specifically working to prevent the spread of HIV in gay men, who account for 68% per cent of cases in the state.
The four new board members, who include a law lecturer, media strategist, public health specialist and compliance manager, were selected on their ability to bring much needed skills to the obstacles faced by the organisation.
Services confirmed to continue include resource centres, mental health, and training and consultancy, while HIV, STI, Hep C, alcohol, tobacco and other drug programs have been significantly reduced.
Healthy Communities President Joanne Leamy said Healthy Communities was overwhelmed by the quality and quantity of expressions of interest for the board positions, which became vacant due to retiring members.
“The Board had a difficult job in selecting just four people among the many skilled and experienced people who offered to become involved,” Ms Leamy said.
“Our organisation has been able to survive because of a range of grants and donations, but we have also had to dip into our reserves, which is why a fresh approach will be so valuable during this time.
“Our volunteers, staff, donors and supporters have really stood by us this past year and enabled us to continue to serve LGBT Queenslanders, despite the challenges.”
Healthy Communities also announced Executive Director Paul Martin will be moving on from his role to allow a new leader with different skills, experience, contacts and ideas to take the organisation forward into the next phase of its journey.
Ms Leamy said Mr Martin would be staying on with Healthy Communities until a new Executive Director was appointed to assist with the induction and handover of the organisation’s future leader.
“We have been most fortunate to have Paul as our Executive Director in times of growth, development and change,” Ms Leamy said.
“Paul is highly respected within Healthy Communities, Queensland and across Australia for his integrity, honesty, advocacy and passion.“
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New board member bios:
Charles Hammersla (Newstead, Brisbane) has been appointed Treasurer. Charles Hammersla has over 10 years of senior retail experience in various roles with Wesfarmers owned businesses, including Coles supermarkets and Kmart. Legally qualified, he is currently the National Compliance Manager - Facilities, for Kmart, overseeing a wide portfolio for that business across Australia and New Zealand. Charles has broad experience in a variety of areas including budgetary management, legal and regulatory compliance and retail management. Charles is a qualified JP in QLD and is looking forward to assisting Healthy Communities in their future work.
Christopher Cliffe (Cairns) is the new Northern Region Member. Christopher trained as a nurse and public health specialist. He is currently Director of Nursing in Far North Queensland and has worked in senior positions for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, National Centre for Quality Improvement in Indigenous Primary Care and the International Red Cross. He has extensive experience working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and internationally in disaster relief. Christopher is also past-President of CRANAplus, the professional body for remote and isolated health professionals in Australia, Deputy Chair of the Coalition of National Nursing Organisations and on the Prevention and Community Health Committee of the National Health & Medical Research Council.
Peter Black (New Farm, Brisbane) has been appointed as a General Board Member. Peter has completed law degrees in Australia and the U.S. and is currently a Senior Lecturer, at the Law School, QUT. He has lectured in law at several universities and has written extensively, especially on the law and social/new media. Peter was also the Campaigns Manager for Electronic Frontiers Australia, which successfully lobbied against the introduction of a mandatory government internet filter. Peter is an active blogger and has a regular weekly segment on ABC local radio and 4ZZZ and well as appearing regularly on ABC News 24.
Patrick MacDonald (Newstead, Brisbane) has also been appointed as a General Board Member. Patrick is a Senior Consultant at Cole Lawson Communications, specialising in media strategy and reputation and crisis management. Patrick was recently awarded the National Golden Target Award 2012 (Issues Management and Recovery Communications), the Queensland State Award for Excellence 2012 (Issues Management and Recovery Communications), and the 2012 Ian Robertson Award for emerging PR professional of the year by the Public Relations Institute of Australia.
Healthy Communities services for the 2013-2014 financial year:
Resource Centres – in Cairns and Brisbane providing office accommodation for Healthy Communities staff and volunteers, other LGBT organisations and meeting space for LGBT and HIV groups and organisations.
2 Spirits – HIV, STI and Hep C prevention for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander gay men & sistergirls. 2 Spirits will also seek to expand its services to additional health and cultural issues affecting LGBT indigenous people, subject to additional funding.
Men4Men – HIV, STI prevention and sexual health promotion among gay and other men who have sex with men.
LGBT Health – promoting health and wellbeing through our volunteer lead action groups including Lesbian Health, LGBT Seniors, Transgender Health and LGBT history.
Training & Consultancy – providing LGBT awareness training and consultancy services to health and community services, as well as the private sector, assisting them to be LGBT inclusive.
MindOUT – in partnership with the National LGBTI Health Alliance, developing the capacity of Queensland mental health organisations and the LGBTI community to better respond to the mental health and suicide prevention needs of LGBTI Queenslanders.
Health Policy – providing public policy advice and assistance to governments and mainstream organisations to help build healthy public policy for LGBT people and create supportive environments.
Healthy Communities also hopes to make an announcement in the coming weeks about new and continuing services for LGBTI seniors.
Over the next few months Healthy Communities with be consulting about the formal inclusion of intersex people in the work and constitution of the organisation. Consultation will occur with intersex people and organisations as well as the Healthy Communities membership. A final recommendation will be made to the AGM in November.