A re-energised Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre (VAC/GMHC) is on the cards with the appointment of a new president.

One of VAC’s youngest appointees, Michael Williams, 28, will take over the reins from outgoing president of eight years Kevin Guiney, who will still remain on the board.

Williams, a researcher with the Michael Kirby Centre for Public Health and Human Rights at Monash University, said he wants the VAC to re-engage with the community, particularly young gay men.

“One thing I’m really interested in doing is re-energising our membership and re-engaging with our membership and the community, because I think the challenges of HIV are still with us, and it’s important to keep reminding people of that,” Williams told the Star Observer.

Williams has been on the board for two years, previously holding the role of vice president/secretary, and has been involved with the HIV sector since 2006.

From 2006 to 2008, while still studying law, he helped co-ordinate the VAC’s HIV/AIDS Legal Centre (HALC).

Williams said, being young, he feels uniquely placed to understand how safe sex messages are received by young men.
“As a young gay man I can understand what challenges face other gay men in terms of negotiating safe sex and looking after themselves and looking after their partners,” he said.

“The environment in which young gay men exist today is a lot more complicated, because if there ever was a gay community, and I’m sure there was, it’s much more dispersed today.

“I don’t mean just geographically, I mean the idea of [the gay community] is much more dispersed, so reaching people presents new challenges.”

Williams said he’d like the VAC to become more visible in the push for greater recognition of same-sex relationships.
“We need to continue the work we do, which is health promotion, but I also want to make myself more visible, and make the board more visible,” he said.

“I want to make sure VAC is always visible and relevant and I’m going to try to put myself out there as much as possible.

“If [the community] has suggestions about how we could be doing things better, they can contact me.”

David Menadue is the vice-president/secretary; Mark McColl will stay on as treasurer; and the positions of Paul Kidd as PLWHA Victoria representative and Mike Kennedy as executive director remain the same.

info: You can email Michael at president@vicaids.asn.au

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