The Hunter region is set to mark a new era in health promotion for the area’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community with the official opening of a bigger and better branch office of ACON, NSW’s leading GLBT health promotion agency.

The newly renovated office, located in the Newcastle suburb of Islington, will be opened by the Minister for the Hunter Jodi McKay at a special ceremony on Thursday 5 February. Newcastle Lord Mayor Councillor John Tate will also attend.

In addition to improving services for the region’s GLBT community, the expanded facilities will also enable ACON staff to improve the provision of information and support services to people living with or at risk of acquiring HIV, including sex workers and people who use drugs.

The renovations, which included the addition of a second level to the existing premises at 129 Maitland Road, Islington, were financed by a one-off $320,000 capital grant from NSW Health.

ACON President Mark Orr says the recently completed project is allowing ACON to continue operating from its base of the last eight years, a location which is familiar to and comfortable for many people in area.

Through our Newcastle office, ACON serves a diverse and dynamic community by providing important information and services that help people look after their health and wellbeing, especially people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, Orr said.

Every year, we provide close to 13,000 occasions of service to people in the Hunter region including face-to-face and telephone counselling, home-based care, sexual health outreach clinics, access to HIV treatments and vitamins, needle and syringe programs, support groups, community forums, accommodation referrals and assistance for clients in crisis.

After several years of over-crowded conditions, we now have adequate space for this broad range of health promotion activities.

In particular, this expansion will also allow us to improve our mental health services, our alcohol and drug services, and our counselling and support services for young same-sex attracted people as well as older gay men and lesbians.

We’re very excited about the potential offered by these new facilities and our thanks goes out to everyone who contributed to such a great result including our partners at NSW Health, the Hunter New England Area Health Service and the Newcastle City Council as well as all our community stakeholders and the contractors and builders who worked on the project.

info: The official opening will take place at 2.30pm.

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