The early history of HIV/AIDS in Australia was marked with controversial political decisions and public and social discrimination, anger and victimisation. The Grim Reaper became a frightening and unwanted face of this evolving epidemic. But did the Grim Reaper win?
Join Phil Carswell OAM as he gives his personal observations on the battle between old style medical management and new public health approaches, on the lessons learned from facing an evolving epidemic, the educational programs undertaken, and controversial political decisions including the establishment of needle and syringe availability programs, explicit safe sex campaigns and the forging of a bi-partisan approach in an age without the internet, email, smart phones or social media.
Phil Carswell OAM was a founding member and inaugural President of the Victorian AIDS Council. In 1984 he was appointed the Health Commission of Victoria's liaison officer with the gay community on AIDS-related issues and became Deputy Manager of the AIDS/STD Unit. He participated in the first National AIDS Conference in Melbourne (November 1985) and the second in Sydney, as well as the International AIDS Conferences in Stockholm (1988) and Montreal (1989). Phil represented the Victorian AIDS Council on the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations Council which he also co-founded and was appointed as one of two gay community representatives to the National Advisory Council on AIDS chaired by Ms Ita Buttrose. He was an inaugural trustee of the AIDS Trust of Australia in 1987 and convenor of the project to create the AIDS Memorial Quilt in Victoria. In 1993 he left the Victorian Department of Health and Community Services to take up the position as Manager, HIV/AIDS and Sexual Health Section in the Queensland Department of Health. He was made voluntarily redundant by the incoming Newman Government in 2012 and received a Medal in the Order of Australia in 2015 for services to public health, particularly for people with HIV/AIDS.