We’re a New South Wales based health promotion organisation specialising in HIV prevention, HIV support and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) health.
Established in 1985, we’re here to end HIV transmission among gay and homosexually active men, and promote the lifelong health of LGBTI people and people with HIV.
Our head office is in Sydney, we have offices in key regional locations and we provide services throughout NSW.
We’re primarily funded by the NSW Government through the NSW Ministry of Health and our work forms an integral part of the NSW Government’s HIV Strategy.
Our mission is to enhance the health and wellbeing of our communities by:
- Ending HIV transmission among gay and other homosexually active men.
- Promoting the health, throughout life, of LGBTI people and people with HIV.
Courage, Empathy, Diversity, Equality, Partnership, Community, Adaptability
What We’re Here For
Advances in HIV testing and treatments mean we can end HIV transmission in NSW by 2020, but only if gay men – the population in NSW most at risk of HIV transmission – test more, treat early and stay safe. We’re here to help them do this by:
- Promoting education campaigns
- Operating rapid HIV and STI testing facilities
- Running gay health workshops
- Providing a range of support services
- Distributing hundreds of thousands of free condoms and sterile units of injecting equipment every year throughout NSW
Over 12,000 people in NSW live with HIV. We’re here to help people with HIV take control of their health, as well as the health of their partners, by providing up-to-date information as well as a range of programs and services including:
- Workshops and support groups
- One-on-one peer support
- Care coordination
- Home-based care
- HIV health retreats
- Meal service
- Vitamin service
Over 500,000 LGBTI people live in NSW and tens of thousands more visit every year. We’re here to help LGBTI people take control of their health so they can look after themselves as well as their partners, family and friends. We provide the latest information on health issues affecting LGBTI people, and we offer a range of services delivered by caring people who genuinely understand the health issues affecting LGBTI people. Our services cover:
- Sexual health
- Mental health
- Alcohol and drugs
- Safety and inclusion
- Domestic and family violence
- Training and consulting
- Policy and research
Who We’re Here For
- People with HIV
- Gay and bisexual men
- Lesbians and same-sex attracted women
- Transgender people
- Intersex people
We also have dedicated services for:
- Young gay men
- Asian gay men
- Sexually adventurous gay men
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- Older LGBTI people
- LGBTI people who use drugs
And through our Training & Consulting division we work with:
- Service providers
- Community organisations
Why We’re Here
The people and communities we serve face the same broad health issues as everyone else. However, mainstream service providers don’t always respond adequately to their needs due to a lack of knowledge, understanding or acceptance.
Our communities also have specific health needs that are best met by community-based organisations with specialist knowledge and experience, particularly in relation to HIV, sexual health, discrimination and social isolation.
We meet this dual challenge by providing information and services which support the specific needs of LGBTI people and people with HIV, and which improves their access to mainstream services.
The Way We Work
We’re a community-based organisation. This means our work is done in our community and for our community by members of our community.
We believe that people and communities affected by HIV should be included and active in any local or global response. In NSW, gay men are the most affected community and so we consult widely with gay men and involve them in all relevant activities.
Peer Based Education
We believe the promotion of health-enhancing information, values and behaviour is most effectively done by peers, people who share similar social backgrounds or life experiences to the target population.
LGBTI Sex Positivity
We support and promote a positive, life-affirming view of sexual activity in all its diversity. We recognise that a denigration of LGBTI sexual activity is strongly linked with homophobia and transphobia, and that mutually consensual sexual activity should be honoured and encouraged.
We maintain close collaborative ties with key HIV research centres within Australia and incorporate new evidence and research into our strategic, organisational and project planning. Evidence-based responses are essential to retaining the trust of our community, organisational partners and funders.
ACON’s Strategic Plan 2013-2018
ACON’s HIV Action Plan 2013-2018
ACON’s Strategic Plan 2013-2018 Midterm Review
- Mental Health
& Other Drugs
- Healthy Ageing
& Aged Care
- Domestic & Family Violence
- Safety &
- Sexual Health & Hep C Prevention
Incorporated in 1985 as the AIDS Council of NSW, ACON has been widely recognised as an innovative and successful organisation which has adapted to changes in the HIV epidemic and responded early to emerging health issues among our communities.
Since our inception, we’ve been at the forefront of advocacy around issues relating to HIV and to LGBTI health, drawing on our close connections to community to identify emerging issues and create dialogue around these issues with policy makers and researchers.
We’ve also worked alongside researchers and partners to build a stronger evidence base around HIV and gay men’s sexual behaviour and LGBTI health, much of which has subsequently affirmed the issues identified by our communities.
1985 – The AIDS Council of NSW (ACON) is established by community members concerned about the HIV/AIDS crisis. The opening of a Sydney office is soon followed by offices in Lismore, Newcastle and Wollongong.
1994/5 – AIDS-related deaths in NSW peak with up to 400 people dying from an AIDS-related illness and up to 500 being diagnosed with HIV each year.
1996 – The development of antiretroviral treatment (ART) stops people dying from AIDS and changes HIV to a chronic manageable illness. ACON and other agencies develop new services to support people to live long term with HIV.
2000 – ACON expands to become an LGBT health organisation while maintaining a core focus on HIV prevention and HIV support.
2007 – Following extensive community consultation, ACON officially changes its name from the AIDS Council of NSW to just ACON to highlight an increasing focus on LGBT health.
2013 – On the back of advances in HIV testing and treatment, the NSW Government launches a strategy to virtually eliminate HIV in NSW by 2020. ACON launches its award-winning Ending HIV initiative and starts setting up its a[TEST] rapid testing centres across NSW. ACON also officially starts responding to intersex issues and becomes an LGBTI health organisation.
HIV/AIDS In NSW
- Strengthening the Community – ACON and the HIV epidemic in NSW
- HIV / AIDS Timeline With An Emphasis on Australia & NSW (1930 – 2011)
ACON Campaign Database
The ACON Campaigns Database is a digital archive featuring all the HIV and LGBTI health related social marketing campaigns that the organisation produced since it was established in 1985 in response to the epidemic.
It is a landmark and Australian-first digital database featuring all health campaigns since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic from ACON, went live to coincide with World AIDS Day in 2016.
Our 30th Anniversary
- 30 Years Of ACONIC Moments (Star Observer feature Aug 2015)
- ACON – Here For LGBTI Health and HIV For 30 Years (SX News 17 Aug)
- NSW Health Minister The Hon Jillian Skinner’s Speech at 30th Anniversary Reception
- ACON President Mark Orr’s Speech at the 30th Anniversary Reception
Our 25th Anniversary
- ACON President Mark Orr’s Speech at the 25th Anniversary Reception
- ACON’s first CEO Bill Whittaker’s Speech at the 25th Anniversary Reception
- United-We-Stand- DNA Article
- Herstory of ACON
- Lemon AIDS
Justin Koonin, President
BSc (Hons), PhD, GAICD
Justin is a former convenor of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, having worked within LGBTI community organisations for the past decade. He is trained as a mathematician, and currently works as an investment analyst. He has also worked as a postdoctoral research associate (at the University of Sydney), and as a consultant in the areas of predictive analytics and data science
Andrew Purchas OAM, Vice President
Andrew has over 15 years of experience as a senior executive in the legal, financial services as a senior associate with Corrs Chambers Westgarth and Chief Security Officer for Westpac Banking Corporation. He has significant commercial experience in business process redesign, change management, risk management and business development. He is currently Project Director with National Information Communication Technology Australia. Andrew has had a long involvement with sports administration and is founder of the Sydney Convicts Rugby Club and was President of the Bingham Cup Sydney 2014.
Steven is a barrister specialising in town planning and environmental law. He has been HIV+ since May 1996, and lives life to the full. He is an avid competitive cyclist, and is training to become the 7th Australian and 1st HIV+ person to complete solo the Race Across America, to confirm that stigma and discrimination against HIV+ people is totally unwarranted. Steven speaks regularly to a range of groups about living with HIV.
BSc, GradCertEdStud, PhD
Julie is a Senior Lecturer in Qualitative Research in Health at Sydney Health Ethics at the University of Sydney where she teaches on the Master of Public Health. Her research examines equity in health and health services in relation to sexuality, gender, indigenous status, and youth. She has been the joint coordinator of SWASH, the longest running regular survey of lesbian, bisexual and queer women’s health, since 2009.
BCom, Major Marketing, UNSW
Richard is the founder and director of Brandview, a brand strategy and marketing consultancy that has shaped the positioning and stories of well-known brands in Australia and around the world. Core skills are research & analytics, brand positioning strategy, brand story frameworks, Go to Market strategy, cultural change strategy and creative idea generation.
Louisa joined he National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), Faculty of Medicine, UNSW in 1998 and has worked across a wide range of projects examining the epidemiology of illicit drug use, comorbid mental health problems, and illicit drug surveillance. From 2001 to 2008 she established and expanded national drug surveillance and strategic early warning systems across Australia. Louisa has been conducting increasingly diverse epidemiological studies and continues to work with WHO and UNAIDS examining epidemiology of illicit drug use and associated health risks across the globe.
BA (Hons), MPH, PhD
Benjamin has worked at the Kirby Institute, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney since 2010 and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow. His research focuses on the behavioural, biomedical and epidemiological aspects of HIV prevention among gay and bisexual men in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. Both in Australia and internationally, he has worked in HIV prevention for over a decade in the areas of community education, policy, capacity development, and research. He worked at ACON in gay men’s peer education from 2004 to 2010.
BSc (Health Promotion)
Atari brings over a decade of experience in health promotion research, policy and strategy, specialising in e-health services, youth health and suicide prevention. He is a former board director of Suicide Prevention Australia and has worked in senior research roles for ReachOut Australia and as an analyst on national inquiries into asylum seeker, transgender and intersex health and human rights for the Australian Human Rights Commission. Atari also helped establish WA’s first transgender youth peer support and advocacy groups between 2002-2006, and later served as co-chair of Twenty10 incorporating NSW Gay and Lesbian Counselling Services, where he remains a board director. Atari is currently studying graduate medicine with the goal of continuing to promote human rights and health as a future medical doctor.
BA (IR) Hons
Christian is a mentor with the ANU Alumni Mentoring Program and has previously been a member of the Postgraduate Coursework Committee of the University of Sydney where he completed a Masters program.
Manda is a passionate television industry professional who started 30 years ago as one of the first female camera operators in NSW and since then has worked across all facets of TV, including project managing morning TV, general broadcasting, production and the past 15 years spent in senior leadership roles.
Outside of her leadership roles in the television industry, Manda has been involved in the LGBTIQ community for almost two decades.
Since 1997, Manda has held the roles of Secretary, Ride Leader and President (2014 to 2016) of Dykes on Bikes, championing its focus on diversity and inclusiveness. She has worked with various organisations to help grow Dykes on Bikes through her connections within the community. In recent years, Dykes on Bikes has expanded its membership, supporters, allies, friends and impact.
Download: ACON Health Limited Constitution (PDF) -128KB
Download: ACON Health Board Diversity Statement (PDF) – 1519KB
Download: ACON Health Diversity Statement (PDF) – 943KB
Since 2001 ACON has undertaken regular internal and external reviews of our policies, practices and services in an effort to identify areas for improvement as well as areas of excellence.
ACON is peer- reviewed every three years using the Health and Community Services Standards developed by the Quality Improvement Council of Australia.
We have achieved National Accreditation after each external review. For more information contact our Quality Improvement Coordinator on 02 9206 2000.
ACON materials may be reproduced in part or in full with acknowledgment to ACON. Commonwealth and NSW government information and materials on this website, including data, pages, documents, graphics, images and webpages, audio and video are protected by copyright, unless specifically notified to the contrary.
Use of materials and information
You may download, store in cache, display, print and copy a single copy or part of a single copy of information or material from this site only for your personal, non-commercial use and only in an unaltered form.
Information or material from this site may be used for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 and may only be reproduced as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (a copy of the Act is available at SCALEplus the legal information retrieval system owned by the Australian Attorney General’s Department, at http://scaleplus.law.gov.au).
Any permitted reproduction made must acknowledge ACON source of any selected passage, extract, diagram or other information or material reproduced. Any reproduction made of the information or material must include a copy of the original copyright and disclaimer notices as set out here.
Commercial and other use
You are not permitted to re-transmit, distribute or commercialise the information or material without full acknowledgement to ACON or by seeking prior written approval from ACON. For written permission to use the information or material from this site, please contact the ACON Online + New Media Producer. You may not use this website to sell a product or service, or to increase traffic to your website for commercial reasons, such as advertising sales.
Please email the ACON Online + New Media Producer with any questions you may have about our website programs or policies, or to provide feedback on this website.
The contact information is:
Postal: PO Box 350 Darlinghurst NSW 1300
Linking to this site
You may link to this site. Permission is not granted to reproduce, frame or reformat the files, pages, images, information and materials from this site on any other site unless express written permission has been obtained from the ACON Online + New Media Producer.
This website is presented by ACON for the purpose of disseminating health information. This website is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this site is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any sexually transmitted infection (STI), HIV or hepatitis A, B or C or mental health conditions, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional’s advice. ACON does not accept any liability for any illness, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information contained in this website.
Quality of information
ACON makes every effort to ensure the quality of the information available on this website and updates the information regularly. Before relying on the information on this site, however, users should carefully evaluate its accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance for their purposes, and should obtain any appropriate professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances. ACON cannot guarantee and assumes no legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, currency or completeness of the information.
Links to external websites
This website contains links to external websites. ACON takes due care in selecting linked websites. It is the responsibility of the user to make their own decisions about the accuracy, currency, reliability and correctness of information contained in linked external websites.
Linkage to external websites should not be taken to be an endorsement or a recommendation of any third party products or services offered by virtue of any information, material or content linked from or to this site. Users of links provided by this site are responsible for being aware of which organisation is hosting the site they visit.
Views or recommendations provided in linked sites do not necessarily reflect those of ACON.
Every endeavour is made to ensure that this site is secure. However, users should be aware that the World Wide Web is an insecure public network that gives rise to a potential risk that a user’s transactions are being viewed, intercepted or modified by third parties or that files which the user down loads may contain computer viruses or other defects.
ACON accepts no liability for any interference with or damage to a user’s computer system, software or data occurring in connection with this website. Users are encouraged to take appropriate and adequate precautions to ensure that whatever is selected from this site is free of viruses or other contamination that may interfere with or damage the user’s computer system, software or data.
Privacy statement information
ACON makes every effort to comply with the Information Privacy Principles (1 –3, and 10 and 11) contained within the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 in the collection and privacy protection of its website users. A copy of the Act is available at SCALEplus the legal information retrieval system owned by the Australian Attorney General’s Department at http://scaleplus.law.gov.au.
If you have any privacy concerns, you should direct them to the ACON Online + New Media Producer.
ACON will only record your email address in the event that you send us a message by email or if you register requesting notifications. Registration for notifications may be made initially by email, postal mail or fax. Your email address will only be used for the purpose for which you have provided it and will not be added to any mailing lists without your prior consent by way of a specific request in writing. We will not use or disclose your email address for any other purpose, without your prior written consent.
Cookies and clickstream data
ACON uses a ‘cookie’ for maintaining contact with a user through a website session. A cookie is a small file supplied by ACON and stored by the web browser software on your computer when you access ACON’s website. (An explanation of cookies generally can be found at the site of the Australian Privacy Commissioner).
The cookie enables ACON to recognise you as an individual as you move from one page to another. This cookie will be immediately lost when you end your internet session and shut down your computer.
Our copy of your information will be automatically deleted twenty minutes after you last used the system. This information is only used to help you use our website systems more efficiently, not to track your movements through the internet, or to record information about you.
Any system on this website that records information about you will specifically ask your permission first.
ACON makes a record of your visit and logs the following information for statistical purposes:
- the user’s server address
- the user’s top level domain name
- the date and time of access to the site
- pages accessed and documents down loaded
- the previous site visited
This information is analysed to show broken links in our website, traffic problems, and other site problems. We use this information to redesign for efficiency of use.
No attempt will be made to identify anonymous users or their browsing activities unless legally compelled to do so, such as in the event of an investigation, where a law enforcement agency may exercise a warrant to inspect the Internet Service Provider’s log files.
Information provided through the ACON website will comply with Information Privacy Principles (see Glossary below), and particularly principles 1 to 3 and 10 and 11. Stated simply these principles are:
- Principle 1 – Collection of information must be lawful and fair
- Principle 2 – Informing people why information is collected
- Principle 3 – Ensuring personal information collected is of good quality and not too intrusive
- Principle 10 – Limiting the use of personal information to the purposes for which it was collected
- Principle 11 – Preventing the disclosure of personal information outside the agency.
“Protecting the privacy of health information is an integral part of providing quality health care” (WHO)
This policy applies to the whole of ACON, the Board, staff (including all levels of management), volunteers and contracted service partners.
Client confidentiality has been an underpinning philosophy and foundation of ACON’s work since our inception in 1985. ACON supports the spirit of intent and complies with and where possible strives to exceed the requirements of the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000.
Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000
The Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000 which amends the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988, sets out your rights and ACON’s responsibility relating to any personal information held about you as an individual who uses ACON’s services. This policy does not apply to information held by ACON about staff or volunteers. Different legislation applies to staff and volunteer records.
The Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000 (hereafter referred to as the Act) which includes the National Privacy Principles sets out how private sector organisations such as ACON should collect, keep, use and disclose personal information. ACON complies with and wherever possible strives to exceed the requirements of the Act. ACON complies with all of the National Privacy Principles.
The Act provides you as an individual with the right to know why ACON holds your personal information, what information is held about you, how ACON will use that information and under what circumstances your personal information may be divulged to others. You have the right to ask to see your personal information and for it to be changed or altered if incorrect or out of date. Under special circumstances ACON may refuse to allow you to see information held about you, in doing so, ACON in accordance with the Act is required to explain why. The Act stipulates that you may make a complaint if you think your information is not used or held appropriately and in accordance with the Act.
Personal information includes such things as your full name, date of birth, gender and address and other contact details. The Act recognises that information of a more sensitive nature may be collected by organisations such as ACON in order to provide you with, or refer you to particular services. Sensitive information is a subset of personal information. It means information or opinion about an individual’s racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, membership of a political association, religious beliefs or affiliations, philosophical beliefs, membership of a professional or trade association, membership of a trade union, sexual preferences or practices, criminal record or health information about an individual
ACON will collect only the information, which is necessary to provide you with the highest standard of service.
- We will only collect information about you with your consent and by lawful means.
- When we collect your information you will be told what we will do with it and to whom it may be disclosed.
- Information about you will not be used in any way without your consent or other than for the reasons for which it was collected.
Where we have obtained information about you from someone other than yourself, we will take all reasonable steps to inform you about who we are, what we intend to do with your information, how you may access it and to whom it may be disclosed.
In other words where possible we will inform you of what will happen to your information as if we had collected it from you ourselves.
Use and Disclosure
Information about you will only be used or disclosed to others by ACON in ways which meet your expectations or are required by law. We will only use or disclose your personal information for a purpose other than the primary purpose for which it was collected if:
- the secondary purpose of collection is related to the primary purpose, and
- you would reasonably expect us to use or disclose information for that secondary purpose, or
- you have given permission for its use or disclosure
We will only use your information for the purpose of service promotion such as newsletters, pamphlets or fundraising providing you have given us permission to do so.
We will only use or disclose your information without your consent, when:
- it is in the interest of an individual’s health, life or safety, or
- in the interest of public health or safety, or
- we are required or authorised to do so by law
We may disclose health information about you to a person responsible for you such as a legally appointed guardian.
ACON will take all reasonable steps to ensure that personal information collected, used or disclosed about you is as appropriate, accurate and as current as possible.
ACON undertakes to ensure that all personal information is kept in a secure place or manner. We will take all reasonable steps to protect your information from misuse, loss, unauthorised or unnecessary access, alteration or disclosure. ACON undertakes to destroy or de-identify your personal information when it is no longer required for any purpose by you or by law.
ACON has a complaints procedure for anyone who believes their information is not being handled properly or in accordance with this policy. A copy of ACON’s complaints procedure may also be obtained through the contact details.
Access and Correction
The only staff or volunteers who may access your information can do so only in the performance of their duties in the provision of a service to you or specifically at your request. Staff or volunteers may not divulge any identifying information about you to each other except that, which is necessary for them to do so in the performance of their duties.
ACON will provide you with access to personal information it holds about you upon your request. In some circumstances it may be inappropriate for ACON to comply with your request, such as where someone else’s privacy may be seriously breached, or where the request poses a threat to an individual’s health or safety. In such case, if we withhold access we will provide you with the reason for doing so.
At your request we will correct any out-of-date or inaccurate information. We will do this either over the phone or face-to-face. You may arrange an appointment to view your personal information or you may request a written copy.
To obtain access to, or copies of, or to correct or up-date your personal, sensitive, information you will need to complete a ‘Personal Information Inquiry’ form. To change just your contact details you will need to complete a ‘Change of Address’ form. Copies of both of these forms may be obtained either by telephoning or writing to us or by down-loading them from our web-site.
Our contact details are at the end of this document.
ACON does not use identifiers or reference numbers assigned by other organisations or government departments or services. Nor does ACON assign identifiers or reference to personal information records except where we have obtained your approval to do so, such as membership numbers or client case file numbers.
ACON does not release membership or client case file numbers to other organisations. Nor do we divulge any information that may in any way identify a particular individual to other organisations, or to ACON staff or volunteers.
Wherever practicable and lawful, and if you want to, we will provide you the option of interacting with ACON anonymously.
Transborder Data Flows
ACON will only send your information to a third party in a foreign country with your prior consent or if the information about you has protection substantially similar to the National Privacy Principles outlined in the Act.
ACON will not collect sensitive information about you without your consent unless, the collection is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious threat to health or life, or the collection is required by law. ACON in some instances may collect information without an individual’s consent if the person concerned is physically or legally incapable of giving consent. ACON may also collect sensitive information without consent in accordance with rules established by competent health or medical bodies that deal with the obligations of professional confidentiality eg client case notes kept about counselling sessions with professionally recognised psychotherapists or session case notes kept by enhanced care project staff.
ACON Sydney – (02) 9206 2000
Northern Rivers – (02) 6622 1555
Hunter/Mid North Coast – (02) 4962 7700
Mid North Coast Outreach – (02) 6584 0943
Illawarra – (02) 4226 1163
The Privacy Commissioner’s web-site contains detailed information on privacy obligations including a copy of the Privacy Act http://www.privacy.gov.au and the Guidelines On Privacy In The Private Health Sector http://www.privacy.gov.au /health/guidelines/index.html#1 set out the standards for collecting, storing, using and disclosing personal information.