On a warm, sunny Saturday, (December 2) members of the community here in Perth gathered at the AIDS memorial in Robertson Park for morning tea to celebrate, reflect and watch the unfolding of the WA AIDS Memorial Quilt as part of AIDS Awareness Week.
The day was put on by the WA AIDS Council and POWA (Positive Organisation WA), the day after World AIDS Day, to give as many people in the community the chance to take part.
Great food was provided and a coffee truck supplied everyone with freshly made coffee and tea to set the scene for people to mingle, catch up and enjoy the warm Saturday morning sunshine together.
The morning tea was not just about catching up with friends, but also focussed on the unfolding of the WA panels of the AIDS Quilt and some speeches to set the scene of the current HIV landscape in 2017.
The proceedings were emceed by Lisa Tomney from WAAC. Opening remarks were provided by David Kernohan, CEO of WAAC, who welcomed everyone and also shared the sad news of the passing of long-time HIV rep on the WAAC Board, Darren Vernade. There was a minute of quiet reflection when everyone remembered Darren in their own way. Senator Dean Smith spoke from the heart about some of his own personal experiences with HIV, as well as thanking the people with HIV that had been part of the “This is what HIV looks like in 2017” World AIDS Day campaign, for their bravery and involvement. Cipri Martinez, the Chair of NAPWA, spoke about what is happening nationally for PLHIV and finally Ryan Oliver, the chair of POWA, spoke from a local perspective and talked about resilience and the importance of working together to reduce stigma and discrimination.
The unfolding of the quilt then followed. It was the first time in over 10 years that both panels have been unfolded in a ceremony that saw the names of those included read out as members of the community took part in the official unfolding. This was an emotional ceremony, that reminded all present that even though we have come so far, there are many people that we have lost along the way.
The morning finished with people gathering around the quilts in quiet reflection and remembering.
Thank you to all those who attended, it was a beautiful morning. Please see photos below.