CatholicCare Victoria has shut down its HIV/AIDS Ministry. The announcement follows the retirement last year of coordinator Marg Hayes who led the service for over two decades.
The organisation’s HIV/AIDS Ministry provided “non-judgemental” services to “anyone living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, regardless of religious belief or background.” Another crucial work undertaken by the Ministry was to provide community education about HIV/AIDS in settings like schools and church parishes.
Thorne Harbour Health said it was “disappointed” at the decision by CatholicCare Victoria.
Disappointing Decision, Says THH
“The Catholic HIV/AIDS Ministry has historically been a distinguished institution in allyship with people living with HIV. To see it fall by the wayside is disheartening,” Simon Ruth, CEO, Thorne Harbour Health said in a statement.
“Sadly, this appears to be a further example of the lack of ongoing commitment to LGBTIQ+ people by faith-based organisations beyond dedicated individuals like the amazing Marg Hayes.”
“The decision by the Catholic Church to terminate their HIV/AIDS Ministry speaks to the fragility of these initiatives that are all-too-often quietly championed by single individuals. Marg Hayes was one such individual who demonstrated compassionate care and support for countless individuals over the course of her career. The lack of community consultation on this decision is disappointing,” added Ruth.
Marg Hayes And The HIV/AIDS Ministry
Hayes started her work as coordinator of the Ministry in 2001, and retired earlier this year. According to Living Positive Victoria, the Ministry “became a place of welcome, and most importantly, hospitality. Community formed around the Monday lunch table. Friendships bloomed over the hearty cooking of the lovable (and hilariously straight-talking) Colleen. The Ministry welcomed, dignified and walked with folks living with HIV, regardless of their faith background.”
Hayes was an integral part of the work done by the Ministry.
“It is impossible to separate Marg from the Ministry she coordinated; both played a huge role in helping people navigate the stigma and shame imposed upon people living with HIV.
“Marg’s work and impact wasn’t just within the Ministry, she was an integral part of the wider HIV community partnership,” said Living Positive Victoria, in a message bidding farewell to Hayes.
The Catholic HIV/AIDS Ministry was also a longstanding partner on the annual World AIDS Memorial alongside Thorne Harbour Health, Living Positive Victoria, and Positive Women Victoria.
* An earlier version of this article wrongly mentioned that CatholicCare Victoria’s HIV/AIDS Ministry was closed in December 2023. CatholicCare Victoria shut down the service in December 2022.