Policy & Research


We’re here to work with legislators, policymakers and service providers to help them understand and address the needs of sexuality and gender diverse people and people living with HIV.

HIV Advocacy

ACON has a long heritage in HIV advocacy from the very beginning of the epidemic, and the organisation’s inception in 1985. We undertake activities that seek to respond to the current issues in HIV policy and advocacy, as well as future challenges and opportunities.
Our work focusses on a broad range of issues as they impact on both the prevention of HIV and other STIs, as well as care and support for people living with HIV, including:

  • Areas which will have the most impact on the fight to end HIV
  • Policy goals and targets in the NSW and National HIV Strategies
  • Addressing priority areas and the clear rationale for change from an individual, community, population health and health system perspective
  • Making PrEP available to gay men who want to access to this prevention method. This will be critical to ensure access to this game changing biomedical intervention
  • Securing access to a wider variety of HIV testing services, especially HIV self – testing and rapid HIV testing.
  • Ensuring that all LGBTI people in New South Wales have access to education, testing and treatment

To find out more please contact our Policy, Strategy and Research team: policy@acon.org.au

NSW State Election

In the lead up to the 2019 NSW state election, ACON, the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Positive Life NSW and the Sex Workers Outreach Project have asked  candidates to endorse our recommendations to improve the health, wellbeing and inclusion of our communities.

Click here to read our 2019 NSW State Election Issues Paper.

Parties and independent candidates have responded to 41 key questions on a range of topics, including whether they will support the establishment a community-based health centre for our communities in Sydney’s Inner West, change laws that allow discrimination against our communities to continue, and combat bullying.

You can read their responses here

To find out more please contact our Policy, Strategy and Research team: policy@acon.org.au

HIV Submissions and Policy Statements

ACON also regularly addresses issues related to HIV in submissions on broader LGBTI health. For more information see the section below.

To find out more please contact our Policy, Strategy and Research team: policy@acon.org.au

ACON Reconciliation Action Plans

In late 2016 ACON’s Board and Senior Leadership Team recognised the need to work in a more coordinated, culturally respectful and inclusive way with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members, service users and organisational partners. ACON initiated work with Reconciliation Australia to develop ACON’s first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which is a formal framework for organisations to ensure their work supports the national reconciliation movement. Our collaboration with Reconciliation Australia has continued, most recently resulting in the production of ACON’s second RAP in 2020.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples remain a priority population under successive state and national health strategies, recognising that this population continues to be disproportionately impacted by poorer health outcomes across a number of areas, including HIV and STIs,  Mental Health and Wellbeing, Smoking, Domestic and Family Violence and Social Inclusion.

With the implementation of ACON’s two RAP, our intention is to build on the partnership work ACON has already been doing. We aim to create a more strategic, collaborative and whole of organisation approach to our work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Our second ‘Innovate’ RAP was released internally in May 2020, with a community launch held online in June that featured singer-songwriter and story teller Aunty Dawn Daylight and poet Brooke Scobie, and was emceed by Will Trewlynn from BlaQ. You can watch the launch of our second RAP below.

The Innovate RAP 2020-22 strengthens the organisation’s commitment to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ cultures, acknowledge our history, build closer relationships, and to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

You can access a public copy of our second RAP here.

If you have any feedback or would like to join the RAP Working Group, please fill out this short form or contact RAP@acon.org.au

Our first RAP was released in 2018, with community launches held in Sydney and across regional NSW during 2019.

You can access a public copy of our first RAP here.

ACON acknowledges and pays respects to the traditional custodians of all the lands on which we work. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

Keep updated with our RAP e-news. Sign up here:


We’re are here to promote and support HIV and LGBTQ health related research in NSW.

ACON Ethics Committee

Research provides a significant benefit to the delivery of effective health promotion and services. ACON seeks to encourage researchers to participate in a process of peer-review regarding ethical issues to promote ethical conduct in human research in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community; among people with and affected by HIV; and among sex workers. This process helps to improve the quality of research related to these groups, which, in turn, makes the research more useful for health providers such as ACON.

The ACON Research Ethics Review Committee exists to provide advice to ACON on ethical issues relating to research and to provide ethical guidance to researchers and research participants. Research projects seeking ACON’s endorsement, or access to ACON’s support and resources, are required to attain approval from the RERC. Approval is a prerequisite for the consideration of assistance or support for the research by ACON.

Who should seek ACON ethics approval?

  • Projects that seek to use ACON or SWOP staff, mailing lists, or other material resources,
  • Projects that specifically target LGBT populations, either as their sole sample group or as an identified sub-sample,
  • Projects that specifically target people with HIV or those who provide their care and support,
  • Projects that specifically target people who work in the sex industry, and
  • Projects that concern issues relating to the health of people with HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ people, or sex workers.

Download: ACON Ethics Committee Application Form

Meeting Dates
Tuesday 2nd February 2021 Wednesday 16th February 2021
Tuesday 2nd March 2021 Wednesday 17th March 2021
Tuesday 6th April 2021 Wednesday 21st April 2021
Tuesday 4th May 2021 Wednesday 19th May 2021
Tuesday 1st June 2021 Wednesday 16th June 2021
Tuesday 6th July 2021 Wednesday 21st July 2021
Tuesday 3rd August 2021 Wednesday 18th August 2021
Tuesday 7th September 2021 Wednesday 22nd September 2021
Tuesday 5th October 2021 Wednesday 20th October 2021
Tuesday 2nd November 2021 Wednesday 17th November 2021
Tuesday 30th November 2021 Wednesday 15th December 2021


Recommended Community Indicators for Research

Through regular and ongoing consultation with our communities and LGBTIQ health research experts we have developed the following sexuality, gender and intersex related indicators to capture our communities in data sets. We recommend the use of these questions as a minimum in all research.

You can download a PDF of the above guide here.

ACON’s Research Priorities

HIV Action
Mental Health & Wellbeing
Sexual Health & Hep C Prevention
Alcohol & Other Drugs

Smoking …………………       

Domestic & Family Violence
Community Safety & Social Inclusion

Ageing Health Outcome Strategy 2017-2021

Evaluation of ACON’s Community-Based a[TEST] HIV and STI Testing Services 2015-2019

Evaluation of ACON’s community-based a[TEST] HIV and STI testing services 2015-2019 is a report by The Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney and ACON, published in 2020. It assesses the characteristics of clients who use the service as well as the reach of a[TEST] in target populations. The report also evaluates the impact of a[TEST] on HIV prevention in NSW.

View the report here.

SWASH – The Sydney Women and Sexual Health Survey


The Sydney Women and Sexual Health (SWASH) survey was first carried out in 1996. It was initiated by workers from two ACON projects, Women Partners of Gay and Bisexual Men and the Gay and Lesbian Injecting Drug Use Project, who were faced with a lack of empirical evidence on which to base their intervention work. Research on the health and wellbeing of lesbian, bisexual and queer women (cis and trans) is still scarce.

SWASH is now a comprehensive survey of sexual and gender identity; community connection; smoking, alcohol and drug use; sexual health; psychological wellbeing; experiences of anti-gay, sexual and domestic violence; parenthood intentions; preventive health behaviour including screening; healthcare access and satisfaction.

The survey is run every two years by a collaboration of ACON and researchers at the University of New South Wales (until 2009), and now the University of Sydney (since 2010). SWASH is the longest running and only regular survey of the health and wellbeing of LBQ women (cis and trans) in Australia. In 2010, the survey began running periodically in Perth: Women’s West Australian Sexual Health (WWASH).

For more information and research on the health of women (cis and trans) in Australia, visit The Australian Women’s Health Network’s Women’s Health Hub online library and ACON’s TransHub.

SWASH downloads:

The latest 2020 SWASH report was released on 28th October 2020 as part of a series of Mental Health month events. Register here for upcoming forums on Healthcare and Screening and Alcohol & Drug Use and Mental Health.

Previous SWASH reports:

Sydney Gay Community Periodic Survey

The Sydney Gay Community Periodic Survey (SGCPS) is a short survey that investigates the sexual practices, drug use, and health service engagement of gay and bisexual men. The findings are used to guide HIV and sexual health programs. It is conducted every year in February (corresponding with the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Fair Day). The Periodic Survey complements data from other studies. It provides valuable information for HIV health promotion efforts. The Periodic Survey is funded by the AIDS/ Infectious Disease Unit of the NSW Health Department.

ACON run SGCPS in partnership with Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH), UNSW. Click here to view SGCPS reports on CSRH website.


To find out more please contact Caitlin Bambridge at cbambridge@acon.org.au

ACON’s Health Outcome Statements

ACON has developed a series of Health Outcome Statements, which outline key data about the health of LGBTI people across a number of focus areas. These statements were developed between 2013 and 2018, and while much of the data remains relevant and significant, it should be noted that there any be new contributions to the evidence in these areas.

Mental Health and Wellbeing HoS

Alcohol and Other Drugs HoS

Smoking HoS

Domestic and Family Violence HoS

Community Safety and Inclusion HoS

Ageing HoS

LBQ Women’s Tobacco Reduction Project Survey Report

In 2015 an anonymous online survey of LBQ women was conducted to:

  1. Identify smoking and smoking cessation behaviours, patterns and contexts among LBQ women and,
  2. Compare the characteristics of current smokers and ex-smokers.
The information below presents findings and complete report from this survey. The findings from this research also helped inform #SmokeFreeStillFierce the hugely successful tobacco reduction campaign for LBQ Women.


Download the digital version of the full Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer (LBQ) Women’s Tobacco Reduction Project Community Report Online Survey Findings here. (Right click on the link and “save link as” to view the digital version correctly in Adobe Acrobat)

Download the printable version of the Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer (LBQ) Women’s Tobacco Reduction Project Community Report Online Survey Findings here.