The future care of the AIDS Memorial Garden located at the former Fairfield Hospital site has been assured thanks to a new partnership between the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT) and the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC).
Former hospital staff, patients and those involved in the HIV sector gathered last week to mark the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two organisations.
VAC vice president David Menadue told the Star Observer the site was a highly significant area for all people affected by HIV, but especially the gay community.
“It’s a very special place for the HIV community because there’s so many spirits and memories from the past that are here,” he said.
Menadue said when the garden was established in the late ‘80s it was “a place of refuge at a time of real turbulence”.
“I hope people looking down will have positive vibes about what we’re doing today,” he said.
Menadue was set to plant a tree in the memorial garden to mark the partnership, but bad weather forced the ceremonial planting to be held in the nearby former chapel.
The garden was established in 1988 as a place of respite for patients in the then AIDS Ward. It has been through various states of disrepair over the last decade, however NMIT says it is committed to keeping the garden is maintained.
Long-time guardians of the area, activists Mannie De Saxe and Kendall Lovett, have been behind the push to have the gardens restored to their former glory.
De Saxe told the Star Observer he was thrilled the garden would be maintained.
“I am please we’ve managed to get this far,” he said.
Menadue praised De Saxe and Lovett for their determination in making sure the gardens are looked after.
“Where would the HIV community be without activism?” he said.
NMIT client services director Anne Bambrook said a proposal had been submitted to Yarra Council to extend a roadand improve access to the gardens.
She said under the new management plan, NMIT would be responsible for the upkeep of the garden while the VAC would offer information on the site.