John MikelsonsFollowing an extensive search and a range of applications, the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities (QAHC) has announced the organisation has found a replacement for its outgoing executive director.

A rejuvenated QAHC board released news earlier this month that youth social service leader  John Mikelsons (pictured) was appointed to the organisation’s top job.

Mikelsons comes with an impressive resume including work within youth justice, industrial reforms, human service delivery and public policy. With over 17 years of experience within the public and private sectors in Queensland and New South Wales, Mikelsons has also served within the Royal Australian Navy and worked closely with indigenous communities across the country.

Mikelsons comes to QAHC from his most recent position as the Director of Youth Justice Capability and Learning at the Queensland Department of Justice, following several years as Deputy CEO at the Queensland Council of Social Service.

Hoping to focus on moving QAHC forward despite defunding in 2012 and reduced resources, the new leader said he would work to ensure that the organisation remains just as committed to improving the health and wellbeing of LGBTI Queenslanders.

“I am honoured to be given this opportunity to work with our communities to improve the health and wellbeing of LGBT Queenslanders,” Mikelsons said.

Paying tribute to outgoing executive director Paul Martin, Mikelsons praised the man that had spent almost nine years at QAHC’s helm following an even longer time dedicated to volunteering for the organisation.

“Paul Martin has done a fantastic job, and I know that filling his shoes will be virtually impossible. I also know that Healthy Communities has a committed and effective board, staff, volunteers and supporters who are up for the challenges that lie ahead.”

QAHC President Joanne Leamy echoed Mikelson’s praise, noting the work Martin had done for HIV/AIDS education and awareness across the country.

“I would like to pay tribute to our outgoing Executive Director… for his massive contribution to the LGBT and HIV sectors both in Queensland and Nationally over the past 9 years. We all wish Paul all the very best for his future,” Leamy said.

Martin believes that QAHC has been put into very secure hands and is excited to see where the organisation goes from here.

Healthy Communities will continue to focus on the health and wellbeing needs of the LGBT community and I have every faith in the Board and John as the new Executive Director to take the organisation to new and exciting places,” Martin told the Star Observer.

“I have enjoyed my time at QAHC and am proud of what we have achieved together for the LGBT communities of Queensland, specifically the expansion from a gay men’s HIV prevention service to an LGBT health organisation…the various HIV prevention campaigns including Rip&Roll and the progress we have made in raising awareness of LGBT health issues, particularly in the areas of mental health and ageing.”

Mikelsons takes over from Martin on September 2.

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