Adrian Lovney has announced his resignation as president of ACON, to take effect in March 2008.
Lovney’s speech was made at ACON’s annual general meeting last week, in which he declared he would hand over the baton to current ACON secretary Mark Orr.
After seven years in the job, Lovney said it was time for a new leader to further sharpen the organisation’s strategy.
Lovney’s term as the chair of ACON kicked off with a tumultuous debate about the future of the organisation, which saw ACON go from being an AIDS council to a gay and lesbian health organisation with a central focus on HIV.
While it was controversial at the time, Lovney said, “it is now absolutely clear that it was the right thing to do” – with almost every other AIDS council in Australia considering a similar transition.
“We have managed to reinvigorate the organisation, and broaden our focus on a whole range of issues that impact on the health of our community,” he said.
“We asked people to take us up on our promise that the decisions we were taking weren’t about lessening our focus on HIV but were about making sure we were doing our work better, and we have.
“There is more to do, but HIV prevention in NSW has been more successful than almost anywhere in the world, and our services to positive people have improved out of sight.”
Lovney welcomed the incoming Rudd Government, adding that there was now an opportunity to capitalise on the commitments made.
Obtaining funds for ACON services had been extremely challenging under the previous government, Lovney said, with four out of five funding applications over the last four years declined.
“On the basis of documents that were leaked to us it was obvious that our applications had been ranked extremely highly by the bureaucrats, but there was clear evidence of interference by very high levels of government,” he said.
“Malcolm Turnbull was instrumental in helping to shift that, and we congratulate him for his leadership, but it was four or five years after we made our first application for funding. With Labor, I am now confident that the dam is broken.”
ACON CEO Stevie Clayton said that as well as helping to create a new vision for the future of the organisation, Lovney went on to provide stability and leadership at a time when HIV infections were on the increase.
“It would have been really easy for ACON, as we saw some other organisations do in other cities, to be defensive about the increase rather than trying to respond to it,” she said.
Lovney would not take full credit for ACON’s achievements, however, instead commending the “outstanding” staff and volunteers at ACON, and the “extraordinary” work done by Clayton.

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