The work of ACON, Australia’s largest community-based gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) health and HIV organisation, has been recognised with an Australian Human Rights Award.

The Human Rights Commission has awarded ACON its 2009 Community Organisation Award.

Formerly known as the AIDS Council of NSW, ACON works to improve the health and wellbeing of the GLBT community and people with HIV, and reduce HIV transmission. ACON was nominated in the Community Organisation category alongside GetUp! Action for Australia, Accessible Arts, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre and the Centre for Multicultural Youth.

Human Rights Commission President Cathy Branson QC congratulated ACON on winning the award.

“The award recognises ACON’s commitment to implementing new initiatives tackling systemic intolerance and its efforts in raising awareness and encouraging greater harmony between people of different race, sex, sexuality and ethnic origin,” she said.

“Work undertaken by organisations such as ACON is truly inspiring and we hope this recognition will assist ACON to continue its good work in the community.”

ACON president Mark Orr said the award was a great achievement for ACON and the people it serves.

“We’re extremely proud to receive this kind of recognition, particularly as we prepare to mark 25 years of service to our community in 2010,” Orr said.

“Since our inception almost a quarter of a century ago, our health promotion work has been underpinned by an understanding that health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not just the absence of disease or infirmity. This means our work will always involve promoting the human rights of the GLBT community, people with HIV and people at risk of HIV, including sex workers and people who use drugs.

“Because by working to reduce discrimination and prejudice against the people we serve – whether it be in relation to their sexuality, gender, HIV status, cultural background, profession or substance dependency – we help improve their access to a broad range of services and opportunities. This, in turn, helps create an environment where more positive choices can be made about health and wellbeing.”

“This focus on human rights informs practically everything we do at ACON, from the various strategic plans which guide the work of our organisation, to the policy submissions we continually make to various levels of government, and to education campaigns which seek to prevent HIV transmission or to reduce homophobia, racism and HIV-related discrimination.

“Advancing and celebrating human rights is a core part of ACON’s work and so to the thousands of staff, volunteers and supporters who have contributed to our work over the years I’d like to offer our heartfelt thanks for helping make a huge difference in the lives of so many.

“Of course, this work could not be done without the support of many people or without the partnerships we have with many organisations throughout the community. We’d especially like to acknowledge the incredible support we have received over the years from NSW Health, as well as a broad range of local, State and Federal Government agencies. We now look forward to strengthening these partnerships as well as creating new ones so we can continue to build our community’s health and wellbeing.”

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