ACON defends logo spend as part of future plan

ACON defends logo spend as part of future plan

Now that the identity, look and name have changed, it is time to get to work on taking acon to the next stage of its evolution -“ and the top priority is establishing a more comprehensive gay and lesbian health agency, by seeking out more fundraising money from the federal government.

That’s the message from acon president Adrian Lovney in the wake of last week’s unveiling of the organisation’s new logo and brand identity.

The $20,000 cost of the marketing exercise has attracted comment that the money might have been better spent providing services. But in the face of criticism, Lovney said the cost was money well spent for the range of funds he believes acon will ultimately have access to finance its changing role in the community.

This is an investment in our future, he said. Of course you have to be careful with this stuff that you don’t go overboard, but this is an investment that we have to make.

If it means we have access to more funding that we have not previously been able to access, then that is good for the community. I do think we can satisfy ourselves that we have not wasted the community’s money either.

We are not apologising for making the changes and we are not apologising for wanting to get access to an increased pool of money to support our community’s health needs.

The organisation currently receives $7.5 million annually from NSW Health for HIV/AIDS health care programs. An additional $1 million is received through fundraising, which is spent on programs for drug and alcohol, mental health, rural and domestic violence issues.

It now hopes to attract an additional $1 million in funding over the next three years.

It seems the repeated experience of being rejected for additional funding for a range of health services by the federal government since 2003 has had a stifling effect on acon.

Four years ago, acon was given a -˜priority 1′ status by a Department of Health and Ageing expert panel in an application for funds to tackle drug use – including crystal meth – but came away empty handed. Four subsequent applications to the federal government have also been refused.

Lovney said the recent creation of the National Health Alliance, made up from AIDS councils from around the country, and the change of acon image is all part of a wider strategy to deal with the funding refusals.

We have sought feedback from the commonwealth and they said things like people not understanding our focus beyond AIDS, Lovney said.

They told us they have a preference to fund organisations working in more than one state, and that is one of the drivers behind the new alliance. We want to make sure the community gets what it is entitled to from the government.

As an organisation that has been putting up its hand for four years, we think we should be able to have access to that money. There is a lot of money flowing around crystal meth, and none of it has make its way to us yet, despite trying.

The Health Alliance plans to put GLBT health on the national agenda when the lobby group has its national launch at Parliament House in Canberra in early August.

The coming months will be spent lobbying both sides of parliament about the health needs of the GLBT community.

They key focus in the lead up to the election will be securing commitment from the government and the alternative government over what they will do, Lovney said.

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