Restoration of the Fairfield AIDS Memorial Garden is underway with new temporary access times in place so the public can visit.
North Melbourne Insitute of TAFE (NMIT) Fairfield has also delivered on a promise to ensure the garden is included in overall maintenance of the campus, releasing a special AIDS Memorial Garden management plan on its website.
NMIT director of client services Anne Bambrook said work to improve the garden is going ahead, however, visiting times are still in a “transition phase” while a 150-bed student accommodation facility is being constructed in the area.
“Once that is completed in about March next year the campus will have 24-hour living, so there will be normal access,” Bambrook said.
Currently the public has access to the garden during campus opening hours only. Anyone wanting to visit at weekends needs to give the campus manager 48 hours notice.
Under the new management plan, NMIT has committed to ensuring pathways are free from overhanging shrubs, weeds are removed and furniture and signage are maintained. Monthly inspections and a condition report will be conducted and will steer any further maintenance work.
Bambrook said the temporary path to the garden would be replaced with a permanent pathway as part of landscaping around the student accommodation building.
Concern the AIDS Memorial Garden was in a state of disrepair was raised earlier this year when a journalist from a local newspaper discovered the garden had fallen into ruin.
Well-known gay rights activists and HIV carers Mannie De Saxe and his partner Kendall Lovett — now both in their 80s — keep an eye on the garden and were angered at the neglect.
De Saxe said he was happy NMIT had committed to care for the garden and he looks forward to full public access when the student accommodation is finished.
“The weekend access is not quite satisfactory, as that is one of the main times people have a chance to get to the gardens, but we’re pleased,” he said.
Victorian AIDS Council executive director Mike Kennedy said he was satisfied the gardens were now being cared for.
“If anyone’s having trouble they need to let [NMIT] know if it’s still not working,” he said.

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