ABOUT nine years ago, Joe Borg was roped into helping pack the Pozlink – the quarterly magazine of the organisation now known as Living Positive Victoria (LPV).
After he was diagnosed with HIV in 2008, Borg became a regular visitor at the Positive Living Centre (PLC) in Melbourne. It was there he met Vic Perri, LPV’s long serving Health Promotion Officer, who convinced him to come and help out in the office by packing the magazine.
“As a joke I said to Sonny (Williams) who was the executive officer at the time, ‘who is going to finish unpacking?’,” Borg remembers.
“So I walked in there the next day and started unpacking and putting things away and then I turned into a piece of furniture.”
Borg, 53, describes himself as “more or less a glorified office assistant to everyone” at LPV but his work is vital because he takes care of “the small niggly things the guys don’t have time to concentrate on because they’ve got bigger things to worry about’.
“I take care of things like making sure we’ve got enough stationery, making sure the photocopier is constantly full, all the little fiddly things that seem insignificant don’t stop them from doing what they need to do,” Borg explains.
In 2012 he won the Volunteer Commitment Award for this contribution and commitment to HIV positive people through their volunteer work.
LPV staff say Borg is always the first to put his hand up to help out and is always full of creative ideas to get things done.
When he won the volunteer award, Borg was commended for his enduring and consistent support to the organisation as an office volunteer.
“He played an active role during the relocation process of PLWHA Victoria to Southbank in April last year and worked long and tirelessly at providing logistical and practical support to ensuring the office was set up and running within days of the move,” LPV said at the time.
“His experience, knowledge and love of the organisation has supported new staff and volunteers to immediately feel welcome within the organisation, and his ability to locate any item within offices, cupboards and the darkest recesses of the building is legendary.”
Borg loves volunteering at LPV because he wants to be able to help people living with HIV (PLHIV) and to give something back.
“Being HIV isn’t exactly troubling me, but I’ve got the type of brain that has to keep learning and I’ve learnt the disease is extremely lazy, it hides in obscure places in the body and since my HIV diagnosis my panic disorder has surfaced,” he explains.
“Since I’ve been disowned (by family), they (LPV) have become my life.
“First we’re ostracised because we’re gay, but we’re also HIV, we are also ostracised by our own community.
“We come to rely on each other and support each other and that’s why it’s so important.”
Leading up to December, Borg goes into the office everyday to help fill the very important Christmas hampers to deliver to PLHIV who are isolated at home or in hospital.
“It gives them something to look forward to,” he explains.
A few years ago, the creative Borg came up with the bright idea for LPV to collaborate with lolly manufacturer Suga to make some custom World AIDS Day candies that were red on the outside and featured a picture of the iconic red AIDS ribbon on the inside.
“We went ahead and ordered 30 kilos of them, and I still have one bag left as a reminder of what I put forward and did, because I was very proud of that,” he says.
“What I saw and what I envisioned actually came to fruition. I got to see the entire process not only from an idea, but I got the support from everyone to see it through.”