WAAC: A new identity for the WA AIDS Council

WAAC is the new name for the WA AIDS Council after the organisation undertook a collaborative brand update to coincide with its 35th anniversary.

The organisation has also launched a new three year strategic plan to go hand-in-hand with its reimagined logo and identity, which seeks to continue to optimise the sexual health and wellbeing of West Australians and reduce the transmission of HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections and blood-borne viruses both now and into the future.

Lisa Dobrin, CEO of WAAC, says the not-for-profit organisation is proud of the sexual health services it has offered the WA community over the past 35 years and is keen to build on its success into the future.

“It’s an exciting time for WAAC as we not only commemorate our past, but also celebrate this new chapter in the form of our latest strategic direction, which will see us look towards an even more innovative and inclusive future,” Dobrin said.

“Our new strategic direction maps out our next three years and has involved substantial consultation with a range of external stakeholders across public health, health care, research and other related fields over more than 12 months, in addition to members of our Board, our staff, partners and most importantly, community.

“It has also involved innovative thinking and ideas, including techniques and methods from the World Café, a powerful social technology for engaging the local community in authentic conversations that genuinely matter.”

The last 35 years has seen the development of life saving HIV medication and other available treatments which reduce the risk of HIV transmission by over 90% and which are available to all West Australians.

However, recent statistics show that the HIV virus and other STIs such as gonorrhoea, herpes and syphilis remain on the increase in WA, prompting WAAC to regularly remind West Australians to practice safer sex as well as have regular STI tests.

“Our bold new document has been developed with a clear understanding of the importance we place on sustainable growth and being valued for leadership and excellence in the building of a healthy, inclusive and safe community for all, as we plan for WA’s sexual health needs into the future.” Dobrin said.

“On behalf of WAAC, I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our new strategic direction, particularly the LGBTQIA+ community and the wider WA community, whose input has helped to ensure we remain as strong, courageous and sustainable into the future as possible.”

The new name and logo was revealed at a community gathering at The Garden at the Leederville Hotel where Jim Morrison delivered an acknowledgement of country and Mark Reid spoke of the organisation’s history.

Acknowledging it would take several hours to list all the achievements of the organisation’s three and a half decades of work, Reid spoke of some the challenges of the early days of the pandemic in the 1980s and some of the major transformations WAAC has been through.

“It is a history that is riddled with so many positive stories, but also a sadness at the number of people we’ve lost along the way, and some of the battles we’ve had to wage along the way.” Reid said.

Recalling the earliest community meetings in the early 1980’s that lead to the creation of the AIDS Council, Reid said there was a severe lack of information about the virus, but also a mountain of stigma and discrimination to tackle.

Speaking at the event Lisa Dobrin shared some recent stories of people who had recently engaged the diverse services of WAAC. The examples she shared sadly showed that ignorance, discrimination and outdated attitudes were still prevalent in 2021.

Asanka Gunasekera, who will step down as being the chair of the organisation for four terms, spoke about the consultation that had gone into the development of the new strategic plan.

“This document will be our roadmap as we navigate the crucial years ahead,” Gunasekera said, thanking everyone who had contributed to its development.

The development of the plan had involved the use of many different techniques and technologies to reach a diverse range of stakeholders.

Graeme Watson

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