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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Policy Statements and Submissions:
- Impact of COVID-19 on HIV (2021)
- Long-acting injectables for HIV treatment and prevention (April 2022)
- ACON Submission to Inquiry into Mandatory Disease Testing Bill (December 2020)
- The Case Against Mandatory Testing (December 2019)
- Mandatory Testing of People whose bodily fluid comes into contact with an emergency responder (October 2018)
- ACON submission to PBAC on PrEP (June 2016)
- ACON Submission to Statutory Review of the Public Health Act (June 2016)
- Needle and Syringe Programs in NSW: Opportunities for Innovation (2022)
- ‘It’s Who We Are’: Exploring the Role, Impact and Value of Peers (2021)
- Ending HIV-Related Stigma For All (2020)
- HIV in the NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population (2019)
- Imaging HIV in 2030 (2019)
- Effective HIV prevention and health promotion among Asian gay and homosexually active men in New South Wales (2017)
- Rapid Initiation: Models for the Immediate Uptake of HIV Treatment (2017)
- Effective and Meaningful Inclusion of Trans and Gender Diverse People in HIV Prevention (2017)
Policy Statements and Submissions:
ACON Submission to NSW Women’s Strategy (July 2022)
- ACON Submission to the Review of the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (December 2021)
- ACON Submission to the Inquiry into the Federal Religious Discrimination Bill (December 2021)
- ACON Submission to the Inquiry into the Provisions of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 (November 2021)
- ACON Submission to Inquiry into Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020 (February 2021)
- ACON Submission to the Review of the NSW School Curriculum (November 2020)
- ACON Submission to Inquiry into Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020 (August 2020)
- ACON Submission to Inquiry into Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Complaint Handling) Bill 2020
- Joint Statement on the Religious Freedom Review recommendations from LGBTI organisations and leaders (October 2018)
- The Australian Human Rights Commission Consultation on Protecting the human rights of people born with variations in sex characteristics in the context of medical interventions (September 2018)
ACON has made a number of submissions relating to hate crimes. You can read more about those here.
- Coercive Control Submission (January 2021)
- ACON Submission – Inquiry into Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence (July 2020)
- ACON Submission on the Reform of the Law of Consent in NSW (February 2019)
- ACON Submission regarding the provision of general practitioner and related primary health services to outer metropolitan, rural, and regional Australians (September 2021)
- ACON Submission to the Review of the National Framework for Advance Care Planning (March 2020)
- ACON Evidence Brief: Gender Affirming Surgery in Australia (2021)
- ACON Submission to Cancer Australia on the Australian Cancer Plan (March 2022)
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.
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.
ACON will be preparing a similar paper for the 2023 NSW State Election.
- ACON Pre-Budget Submission 2022-23 (January 2022)
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.
Our first RAP was released in 2018, with community launches held in Sydney and across regional NSW during 2019.
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:
ACON has produced a Multicultural Engagement Plan which provides a three-year framework to guide the way ACON engages with and empowers community members and staff from culturally, linguistically and ethnically diverse, migrant, and refugee backgrounds, and people of colour. You can read the Plan here.
We’re are here to promote and support HIV and LGBTQ health related research in NSW.
ACON welcomes opportunities to collaborate with researchers, participate in research and promote projects that align with our organisation’s values, programs and priorities.
Research is fundamental to inform and improve health promotion and services for people of diverse genders and sexualities (LGBTQ+) and people living with HIV. We believe that research that meaningfully involves people with lived experience throughout the research project lifecycle, from development to implementation and feedback to community, is essential and generates greater insights into and for our communities.
Research projects must go through a robust ethics review process before they can be promoted by ACON.
ACON’s dedicated Research Ethics Review Committee (RERC) is made of independent researchers and health experts who provide ethical guidance to ACON and researchers with a view to ensuring that any project we promote benefits our communities and ACON. The RERC reviews the extent of community consultations and involvement, the appropriateness of language, indicators and survey questions, the potential benefits and risks to participants.
What projects require ACON ethics approval?
Research projects seeking ACON’s endorsement, or access to ACON’s support and resources, are required to attain approval from the ACON Research Ethics Review Committee (RERC). This includes:
- Projects that seek survey promotion support from ACON (e.g., sharing a survey on ACON’s social media and mailing lists, promoting a research study through the distribution of flyers).
- Projects that seek the participation of ACON staff in research.
- Projects that specifically target sexuality and gender diverse populations (LGBTQ+), either as their sole sample group or as an identified sub-sample.
- Projects that specifically target people living with HIV, those who provide care and support for people living with HIV, and priority populations for HIV prevention.
How does the ACON ethics approval process work?
There are three essential steps:
1. Contact email@example.com for a short pre-assessment
Due to the high number of applications we receive, the ACON Research Ethics Review Committee’s Chair and Secretariat conduct a pre-assessment of your project and its alignment with ACON’s research priorities and programs. We will consider:
- The project’s suitability and alignment with ACON’s research priorities and programs.
- The age of participants (ACON generally does not promote research involving participants under the age of 18).
- Whether the project is already being promoted and/or recruitment is underway.
- The research experience and lived experience of the researchers (ACON generally does not promote honour’s degree research projects, unless the applicant has demonstrated that the project is of exceptional quality and benefit to our communities).
- ACON’s capacity to promote the research.
You do not need to fill out an application form at this stage. Simply provide a brief description of your project and the kind of support you need, and we will get back to you to advise on next steps.
2. Fill out an application form
Before submitting your application, please consider reviewing the following key points:
- Sexuality, gender and intersex indicators – please refer to ACON’s recommended Community Indicators for Research. The RERC generally does not approve studies that do not include appropriate indicators.
- List of Support Services – Please ensure any listed support services are known to be LGBTQ inclusive and that it is clearly indicated whether the service is appointment-based or available 24 hours
- The extent and appropriateness of consultation with affected populations.
3. Implement the ACON RERC’s recommendations, if applicable
Once your project is reviewed, you will be advised of the outcome in writing. The four possible outcomes are:
- Approval: the proposal is approved as submitted.
- Approval after amendments or clarifications: The proposal is approved subject to the provision of clarifications to the RERC.
- Deferment: The proposal is not approved as submitted, but it can be reassessed if the applicant chooses to resubmit the application with changes asked by the RERC.
- Declined: The proposal is not approved as submitted.
If you receive an outcome that requires implementing the RERC’s recommendations, we will advise you on the necessary steps to progress your application.
When should I submit an application form for ACON ethics review?
Make sure to contact firstname.lastname@example.org before filling out the application form. Our team will conduct a pre-assessment to ensure your project aligns with our priorities and capacity.
For University-based research, please apply to ACON’s ethics review after receiving approval from University ethics (or other NHMRC-registered ethics body).
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Through extensive consultation with our communities and research experts, we have developed the following sexuality, gender and intersex related indicators. We recommend the use of these questions as a minimum in all research projects focused on LGBTIQ+ people.
ACON also endorses the use of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Standard on Sex, Gender, Variations of Sex Characteristics and Sexual Orientation Variables for wider population (non-LGBTIQ+ specific) research. The ABS Standards are available here.
Research projects which seek ACON ethics approval and do not use the ACON Recommended Community Indicators or the ABS Standards are unlikely to receive approval unless they demonstrate a strong rationale for not doing so.
Research is key to improving the health of people living with HIV and people of diverse genders and sexualities. It helps us better understand our communities’ needs, design effective programs and advocate for policy change to improve health outcomes.
We believe that people in our communities should be meaningfully included in research – from the choice of research topics to recruitment, analysis, and community feedback.
ACON’s Research Priorities guide ACON’s research activities, including the development of new partnerships. Our focus is on ensuring the projects we support have the greatest benefit for our communities and relevance to our programs. We welcome research that addresses knowledge gaps and emerging health issues as outlined by our Research Priorities, available here.
To find out more about ACON’s research priorities please contact email@example.com.
- Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH) – University of New South Wales
- The Kirby Institute – University of New South Wales
- The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) – La Trobe University
- Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine – University of Sydney
- The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC)
- Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria (GLHV)
The publications and reports below are some of those which inform the work completed at ACON. We welcome new research in the varied areas of HIV Care, Treatment and Prevention and LGBTQ Health. ACON consistently encourages improved data collection
- 8th National HIV Strategy
- NSW HIV Strategy 2021-2025
- Sydney Gay Community Periodic Survey Report 2020
- SWASH 2020
- 2018 Sydney Gay Asian Men Survey Report
- Evaluation of ACON’s a[TEST] Service 2015-2019
- Evaluation of ACON’s Substance Support Service
- 2018 Australian Trans and Gender Diverse Sexual Health Survey Report
- HIV Futures 9
- Flux COVID-19 Baseline Report
- Private Lives 3
- Writing Themselves In 4
- Stigma Indicators Monitoring Project
- Report on the PrEP in NSW Transition Study
- Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Women’s Tobacco Reduction Project Community Survey Report
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).
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:
- SWASH 2018 – Women in contact with the Sydney LGBTQ communities
- SWASH 2018 – Women in contact with the Northern Rivers and Mid-North Coast LGBTQ communities
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 contactAngus Molyneux at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.