Rodney Junga-Williams, a leading Aboriginal advocate for Indigenous Australians living with HIV, died on November 24 2011 in Sydney.
Junga-Williams was an Aboriginal man of the Narrunga and Kaurna Nations of the Yorke Peninsula and Adelaide and the Adelaide Plains.
In the mid to late 1980s, Junga-Williams returned to Adelaide from Sydney, keen to work with his home community. He worked with Nungays, an Aboriginal gay and lesbian support group, and with young Aboriginal people to educate them about HIV.
In the early 1990s Junga-Williams worked at Second Storey Youth program and the AIDS Council of South Australia at SURVIVE, in their Aboriginal outreach program.
In 1994 Junga-Williams was the HIV-positive member of the group which coordinated and ran the first Anwernekenhe national HIV/AIDS and sexual health conference for gay men and sistergirls at Hamilton Downs, Alice Springs.
Junga-Williams and his family were the faces in a national HIV media campaign about living with HIV/AIDS.
Junga-Williams was the first Aboriginal Australian to come out publicly as HIV positive, and became the first Aboriginal president of People Living With HIV/AIDS South Australia in 1999.
Junga-Williams was also a long-term Aboriginal spokesman for the National Association of People living With HIV/AIDS (NAPWA). He convened, supported and led NAPWA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander response in policy, advocacy and education and prevention, and gathered grassroots community support.
Junga-Williams spoke at many forums and conferences, nationally and internationally, advocating for the HIV cause and the rights of Indigenous peoples.
He will be celebrated and remembered for his strength in friendship and family, advocacy and activism, his unwavering commitment to his people and his great love of living life to the fullest.