THE executive director of Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC), John Mikelsons, has announced he has decided to leave the position and a successor has already been appointed.

After taking over from former director Paul Martin, Mikelsons oversaw a rebranding of the former Queensland Association for Healthy Communities (QAHC), as well as several initiatives that has seen the organisation continue to deliver its services to the LGBTI community despite defunding two years ago.

During his almost-one year in the top job, Mikelsons presided over the move to change QAHC’s name – one it had for about eight years – back to its former name that originated during the outbreak of the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s.

Mikelsons also oversaw the expansion of QuAC’s Testing Point service, the first rapid HIV testing services to be offered in Queensland.

His replacement is sexual health director Michael Scott (pictured above), who has worked at QuAC for four years and has experience in health promotion along with HIV prevention and mental health.

Scott has previously acted as the executive director for both QuAC and the Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council for various periods.

He has also been manager of QuAC’s 2 Spirits Indigenous Health awareness and HIV prevention program.

President Joanne Leamy said Scott’s appointment was the “right one for the organisation at this time”.

“Michael is a strong leader and an outstanding person to lead QuAC. His experience and leadership in HIV prevention and care and LGBTI health promotion, both here and interstate, make him an excellent choice for this important position,” she said.

Scott said that he was prepared for the new challenge and was looking forward to it.

“LGBTI Queenslanders encounter a range of health inequalities, including significantly higher rates of HIV and mental ill health than the broader public,” he said.

“I look forward to collaborating with our community, clinicians, researchers and government to address these issues. Our staff, volunteers and Board are a strong united team and I have no doubt they will continue to do great work in the period ahead.”

Mikelsons reflected on his time serving the community but said that QuAC was left in very competent hands.

“I’ve loved this job, and wrestled hard with the decision,” Mikelsons said.

“While I would have loved to see through some of the great work we are doing, I recently started a new relationship with a fantastic guy who lives in Sydney, and so have decided to head south. I want to thank everyone involved with QuAC who have made this job both fun and fulfilling and wish Michael and the team all the best for the future.”

Mikelsons is a former youth social service leader who worked with youth justice, industrial reforms, human service delivery and public policy, and also served in the Royal Australian Navy and worked with Indigenous communities across the country.

Leamy echoed the sadness expressed by QuAC’s board upon hearing Mikelson’s decision but understood his personal reasons for moving on.

“He has led our organisation exceedingly well, reorienting it and rebuilding it after a difficult period, and has placed it on a strong financial footing that will ensure that we are well equipped to meet the challenges of the future,” she said.

(Main image: Michael Scott is the new boss of QuAC. Photo: David Alexander)



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