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NMIT and VAC GMHC to re-launch Fairfield AIDS Memorial Garden

19 Nov 2010

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) and the VAC/GMHC (Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men's Health Centre) have partnered to present Back to Fairfield, an event marking the re-commitment of both organisations to the care and management of the AIDS Memorial Garden at NMIT's Fairfield campus (formerly the Fairfield Hospital).

The event will celebrate the exchange of an agreement (MOU) between NMIT and the VAC/GMHC to ensure the ongoing upkeep of the Garden and also bring together former Fairfield Hospital AIDS Ward staff and patients plus key representatives from Victoria's HIV/AIDS support services community.

The AIDS Memorial Garden was originally established in 1988 in native bushland behind the former Fairfield Hospital nurses' quarters. The garden was developed as a place of tranquillity and respite for patients in the Fairfield AIDS Ward and their families and friends.

NMIT and the VAC/GMHC have been working together for over a year to develop a management plan for the Garden on the former Fairfield Hospital site.

“After the Fairfield Hospital closed in 1996, and before NMIT commenced program delivery in 2003, there were quite a few years when there were no occupants on the site. During this time the garden fell into disrepair,” said Anne Bambrook, NMIT Director - Client Services.

The management partnership between NMIT and the VAC/GMHC formed in late 2009 with the realisation that a coordinated approach to the care of the site was needed.

“Under the management plan NMIT will be responsible for the upkeep of the Garden and the public parkland behind the campus while the VAC/GMHC will provide support and information to anyone who has a connection with or enquiries about the Garden, particularly members of the community affected by HIV/AIDS,” added Ms Bambrook.

Mr David Menadue OAM, Vice President of the VAC/GMHC and a prominent leader in the HIV/AIDS sector, will plant a tree within the AIDS Memorial Garden as part of the Back to Fairfield event. David will also deliver the keynote address for the afternoon.

As well as presenting the way forward for the future management of the Garden, the afternoon will include an informal afternoon tea and tours of what is now NMIT's Fairfield campus. The event will also provide an opportunity for former Fairfield Hospital staff, patients and families to see how the Fairfield site has developed and share memories from the days when Fairfield Hospital was a vital resource in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

John Hall, Manager - HIV Services Positive Living Centre, has been instrumental in tracking down former Fairfield staff including Dr Murray Sandland and Nurse Judy Frecker. Dr Sandland, now retired, was a leading clinician at Fairfield and contributed to W.K. Anderson's Fever Hospital: A History of Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital (2002). Judy Frecker was among the original staff at Fairfield when the AIDS Ward commenced operation. Twenty seven years on she continues to support those with HIV/AIDS and is now the RDNS Western/Northern Regions Sexual Health Coordinator/Clinical Nurse Consultant (HIV/AIDS). She is a recognised advocate for the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS and was named RDNS Nurse of the Year - Client's Choice Award 2010 for her work with an HIV/AIDS affected client.

“Fairfield Hospital is a place of immense significance in the history of HIV/AIDS in Victoria,” said Michael Williams, President of the VAC/GMHC. “NMIT's re-dedication of the AIDS Memorial Garden will create a permanent testament to this significance. The re-dedication ceremony will bring together the families of those men and women who died of AIDS; the staff members of Fairfield Hospital, and those other organisations who cared for them; and our community leaders who responded to the epidemic in the early days. As President of the VAC/GMHC, I look forward to our organisation assisting in managing the Garden as a space for reflection for all those we have lost - as well as our achievements in the fight against HIV/AIDS - for many years to come.”

What: Back to Fairfield - AIDS Memorial Garden ceremony and reunion.
Where: NMIT Fairfield Campus
When: 2pm, Thursday, 25 November 2010.

Our core work is to:
Strengthen the independence, dignity, health and wellbeing of HIV positive people and the GLBT community, reduce transmission of HIV and STIs and enhance health outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS. In particular, we are invested in bringing the AIDS epidemic to an end.


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Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or
NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on six campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north plus a regional campus at Ararat, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.


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