ACON Responds to Allegations
4 February 2011
Recently a series of claims have been made by a few individuals about the response to HIV/AIDS in NSW and, in particular, the programs, services and organisational management of ACON, formerly the AIDS Council of NSW.
ACON welcomes feedback from all members of our community and is committed to improving our programs, services and management in response to valid and constructive criticism. However, it is troubling to receive criticism of our work and workplaces that is based on information that has been misrepresented, misquoted or used out of context. These claims are without any substance and many have resurfaced several times over recent years. Every time they raised, they are quickly disproved by facts and evidence which are readily available and easily accessible.
This is especially true of the claim that HIV notifications in NSW are rising. They are not. Data from the National Centre In HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research (NCHECR) and National Centre in HIV Social Research (NCHSR) confirm that NSW is one of the only places in the world where HIV transmission has remained stable for more than 12 years. This demonstrates that NSW’s response to the HIV epidemic is one of the most effective in the world.
This result is, in large part, due to the approach which ACON and our partner agencies take in responding to HIV as well as other GLBT health issues related to HIV prevention. The development of our programs and services are informed by evidence and data collected and analysed by independent research bodies. The development and implementation of these programs and services are overseen and approved by a range of relevant government agencies, healthcare organisations and community groups. ACON is a team player that operates within a carefully managed framework to ensure that NSW’s response to HIV is as effective as possible.
Furthermore, ACON’s organisational management is open and transparent. Our financial records are audited annually by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, one of the world’s most respected auditing firms, and no financial irregularities have ever been identified. We also undertake an exhaustive acquittals process with all our funders and report to our membership regularly on relevant financial and operational matters.
In spite of this, these individuals maintain that ACON is an ineffective organisation that should be decommissioned by the NSW Government, a puzzling demand given that the effectiveness and probity of ACON as an organisation are easily demonstrated. It is equally perplexing to consider how our community would benefit by not having ACON, given the exceedingly positive impact which ACON has had on the health and wellbeing of our community over the last 25 years. In this regard it is important to note that despite the innumerable ACON-related complaints and de-funding demands with which these individuals have petitioned various government departments and agencies over the years, none have ever been upheld.
ACON has put forward numerous invitations to the most vocal of these critics to meet with our senior management to discuss his concerns. However, this particular complainant refuses to meet with any ACON staff or Board members.
ACON has prepared the following briefing papers which respond to the claims made by these individuals.
1) ACON and HIV Prevention Among Gay Men
2) ACON and Drug Education
3) ACON’s Finances
Below is some additional information relating to NSW’s HIV response:
1) A Clarification of HIV Prevention in NSW
2) HIV Experts Support ACON
For more information or to arrange an interview or photo opportunity, please contact us.
Contact: Michael Badorrek, Media and Communications Manager, ACON
Tel: (02) 9206 2001
Mobile: 0400 358 109