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Ian Smith - early years of HIV AIDS in Christchurch [AI Text]

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Hi, I'm Ian. Ian Smith. Um, yeah. When you talk about the gay scene in the early eighties, Um, it was pretty. It was pretty follow up. Actually, we had a lot happening in Christchurch at that time. Um, there were a lot of a number of organisations which are very active. And of course, there was a whole political law reform happening in in the in the middle mid eighties anyway, and, um yeah, certainly was. It was a good place to be When you say full [00:00:30] on What? What do you mean? Well, when I I there was a variety of activities and and things that one could go to, as opposed to for sake if you came from down south or somewhere. And it was pretty quiet there. Um and probably the same for the North Ireland people in those small centres. And it was a place where people were thinking a self is and gravitated to and often pass through on their way after after a few years or months or whatever on to Auckland and then probably to Sydney. Um, but it was certainly, [00:01:00] um Yeah, it was certainly a good place to be. It was. Yeah, it was pretty exciting. What kind of venues were available? Uh, there was a number of clubs. Um, there was a sauna, um, or two saunas. In fact, just trying to think now there was, uh, Lambda was in the sort of early eighties. Anyway, from what I can remember, that was a sort of gathering coffee place. It was really quite a good centre for a lot of people who didn't want didn't like the bar programme. [00:01:30] Um, there were various other organisations, the lamb of which is actually still going today, and that's where people got together and tramped various places. I mean, particularly around the mountains. And what have you there was I just can't recall now, But I know I know there was There was quite a lot of activity anyway. Yeah, so it was. It was quite a supportive place for people, and I think that's the interesting thing was that there probably was a degree of ghetto mentality [00:02:00] in those days. Um, in the seventies and eighties, where people really congregated together, they felt comfortable together. And then that's where people really came out or introduced their own Selves to to to themselves for, um and I think that that's that was very helpful in many ways. In terms of what happened later in terms of AIDS. I, I don't want to talk about today so much, but the fact was that I think we've lost that community [00:02:30] here. Um, we have various isolated pockets, but it's not that sense of community anymore. And people spread far and wide, and that makes it a done slight, harder to actually get messages across because they're not there venues anymore. There are. I mean, obviously, North Ireland has more, but here we haven't brought up due to the earthquake. Uh, here. We haven't got those venues now in the same way. Was it easy to be [00:03:00] openly gay in Christchurch in the early eighties? Um, yes and no, um people, people who didn't care. I mean, obviously, we're open about their sexuality. Um but I suppose for many people, it it wasn't. It was difficult to to actually be really open. I mean, Christchurch is reasonably conservative. Shae to Auckland and Wellington. Um, but yeah, it was I mean, it was a comfortable place to be. And [00:03:30] as I say, you had those alternatives from the heterosexual scene to the gay scene. And that was that was a a great asset for a lot of people. What about the ideas of knowing what was happening in gay or queer communities around the country, or even internationally? Was there much news coming to Christchurch, huh? I'm just trying to recall I mean, there there are obviously I mean, people travelled, um, [00:04:00] and travel a lot. And I mean, uh, I've been to various other countries and experience gay scenes there. And, of course, people coming back will talk about their their experiences and what have you and obviously that would, uh, motivate others to actually go as well. Um, I think we were reasonably in touch with what was happening. I'm pretty sure that we, uh we knew what we were where and what was happening. And particularly in terms of law reform and things or lack of, um [00:04:30] yeah. So I think we were really in touch. I guess that kind of question comes from nowadays. It's so easy to, um, think of communication, you know, with the Internet, with Google with mobile phones. But this isn't in an age. In the early eighties, where there was none of that and just I guess I was trying to figure out well, how How isolated was it? Yeah, I, I think, [00:05:00] um, we had access to other gay information and magazines. And what have you from from overseas particularly, say, Sydney and San Francisco and places like that? So I mean it. I think we were pretty well in touch with with most things that are happening. We we did get regular updates, um, through having those magazines as to what was happening in places. Um, and of course I mean, there was always the telephone. We still had the telephone, of course, even though we didn't have the Internet. And, uh, of course, [00:05:30] the written word as well. So I mean letters. And what have you would be going backwards and forwards and again, experiences would be expressed and, uh, and transmitted to various other people. So I think it wasn't seen as a liability because we obviously we didn't know any different. I mean, that was what we had, and that's what we had to make use of. When was your first knowledge of HIV A. I DS was September 84 1984. [00:06:00] What happened then? Well, it was basically through my flatmate who was actually a GP. And he'd been over in the States to San Francisco for a holiday day and and then became very aware of of, uh, men who are sexual men becoming unwell with this mysterious disease. And, uh, it seemed to be following a pattern, particularly with gay community, a gay male community and Haitian people. So, [00:06:30] I mean, that's that's the first, uh, awareness that I had personally, um, which obviously instigated, uh uh, concerns about what might happen here. How did he relate what was happening in San Francisco? Um, what kind of? Well, he was, obviously from a medical point of view, he was obviously concerned because, I mean, here was a disease which was manifesting itself in a totally unknown way, and there seemed to be no cure. Um, [00:07:00] and everybody was at a loss as to know what to do, and people were dying very quickly. I mean, in those days, it was not unusual for a person who might have contracted the virus to be dead within about four months or five months, so there was no cure and there was no way of knowing how they were going to tackle it. And it wasn't until a bit later on, they found out it was a virus and and so forth. And people like Gallo and, uh and, uh, the chap in France [00:07:30] discovered the virus shortly after that. After kind of that initial, um, hearing of of of this thing. What? What did you do? It was in response to what we've heard from him. Um and obviously there were other people in New Zealand becoming rapidly aware because of this communication between, particularly between San Francisco and New York and New Zealand. Um, we decided that we should set up some sort of a support network. [00:08:00] Um and that was actually happening in response in San Francisco, particularly with the shanty programme which was instituted there. And there was a gay lens health crisis in New York. Uh, there were two bodies which had started these support programmes for people because obviously being an unknown disease, there was a lot of fear surrounding it, you know, even the me or I shouldn't say even the medical fraternity didn't know what to do with it. And they were concerned about how [00:08:30] it was going to be spread. Could it be spread through the air? You know, all these things we had more recently, perhaps with bird flu and all these sorts of things. And in fact, we still get it today. We we just the, uh, kindergarten and child centre child. Um, what do you call it? The, um, in Auckland. Uh, recently just ostracised the kid for being HIV positive. Anyway, I'm going on a tangent here. Um, so, yeah, that that was what we perceived was happening. [00:09:00] And we thought, Well, we'd better be doing something about it, because even though we we weren't aware of having I didn't say we didn't have it. We weren't aware of having HIV and, uh, in New Zealand. It was a case of, um let's be prepared. So it was at that point where five of us, I think was now got together and talked about what we could do. And with the shanty programme in mind, we could set up something similar to support people who [00:09:30] ultimately became unwell with HIV. Can you tell me a wee bit about the the shanty programme and how that kind of works. Um, my memory is a bit hazy on this one now, but the shanty programme basically was a support programme which provided, um, care for people who who, um, aren't well, who had been, uh, discriminated against. Um, Probably kicked out of accommodation, lost their positions and and work and so forth. Um, [00:10:00] and just basically off, aside from society. So it was really a programme there which picked up the pieces and and volunteers provided that care. Um, and particularly even, uh, where people have lost their partners because their partner was was concerned about them themselves being infected and that sort of thing. So these people were totally isolated in many ways, but they needed some support. Obviously, Um and that's the shanty programme, broadly speaking provider that so [00:10:30] I presume. Not only was it just a, uh, care in terms of support, but it was also to do with providing food and accommodation and all those other things that were necessary and hostels and that type of thing. So the five people that you were talking about that met to talk about forming some kind of support, had that group come together before I mean, was that part of a another organisation that that you met or just individuals coming together, I mean that these [00:11:00] people had some, obviously some input into into community as a whole. I mean, they weren't just people coming in off the street and said, Let's do it. They had been involved in gay politics and all those other things as well. And I mean, um, yeah, all of us had some sort of connection with with gay male movements and so forth. Um, yeah, so I mean, it was a question of realising that we had we had the capability of bringing some together. [00:11:30] It was just a matter of organising it and making a start. So how did you make a start? How how? Well, we had a couple of we had several meetings and it was decided. And it was funny because I I had actually sold a business, Um, several months before and I was planning on being semi retired. Um, I did have an art gallery, which was a small place, and it wasn't going terribly well, but anyway, I had time and it finished up that I became this coordinator of this group because [00:12:00] the other ones were very busy and and all had positions and and so forth. Um, and it was was mooted that we should really begin recruiting people. And that sort of began happening. Um, the end of 84. So putting the word out, really? And it was more aimed at obviously men who have sex with men or or gay. I didn't I didn't I didn't find themselves as gay. Um, it wasn't discrimination about women. It was [00:12:30] just the fact that the men were the ones who were probably primary going to be the ones affected and therefore their their motivation would be to be perhaps involved in an organisation like that. And then we we were in contact with Auckland who were forming a similar organisation, and Wellington was again similar. That was basically through more of the gay movement, the gay men's movement. Um, and we then, uh, decided that we would [00:13:00] recruit people advertising all that sort of thing to get people interested, pass the word around and start a formal process to to, um, screen people and that sort of thing. And we we set a date from March 85. I think it was March 85 as our first intake. And fortunately, one of our members of the small group was, um was in the midst of the administrator and the CPIT or the Polytechnic, as it was then, [00:13:30] and made a room available for us for that first gathering. And we also we had about, um I think we screened about 50 people and found about 30 of were suitable. I mean, not everybody was always suitable, even though they wanted to be a volunteer. The fact was that they might have some other agenda or they might have some other stuff. They why they might not be to cope with the situation that might arise as simple as that. So we did the screening process, and we came up with around [00:14:00] about 30 people. Um, we access some of the expertise from Auckland because they had several leading people there Brisbane at um and Kate Leslie, who was actually the senior social worker with the Auckland Hospital Board. Um, and they could bring skills and when it's about what the real situation is, Bruce had been in San Francisco and he'd come back from there, so he was obviously aware of the shanty programme and of course, Ray [00:14:30] Taylor, who was local or wasn't local here at the time he was in Auckland. Um he also had experience in Shandy programme. So we drew on their expertise and we asked them if they'd come down and help us with the first process in terms of education and and the training. So it was basically a formal training based on counselling based on support. There wasn't much given to prevention at that point in time because our main concern was well, OK, well, a lot of people were overseas, [00:15:00] possibly come back and they might be unwell. What are we gonna do for them? How have we got a team here to provide that support And we couldn't rely on existing services because existing services were pretty ignorant about what the issues were. And we're pretty fearful about their own, um, possibility of getting a disease and the medical fraternity didn't want to know And the government didn't want to know either because there was another cost on their health programmes. And so it really came down to the community [00:15:30] to actually provide that that service initially when you say the medical community didn't want to know. What? What does that mean? Well, basically, they didn't know they did. They didn't. Didn't understand what it was. Um, obviously, we weren't fully informed about what it was, and and nobody else oversees when you either at that point. But, um, it was a case of, uh, I suppose, medical people looking at it as as another possible disease which might affect people in this country. [00:16:00] But it wasn't there yet. Therefore, it was a great, great priority. And it was the same with the government and and the and the mental mental medical health services in general. At that stage in 1985 were there many known cases of of HIV aids in New Zealand? Um, well, it was probably It was only about one or two. Yeah, And Bruce being one of them that Yeah. Yeah. And it wasn't until later on, uh, getting to 86 [00:16:30] that more people came, came forward. So and it wasn't until later that we actually had our phone first home phone per person. Bruce Burnett sounds quite extraordinary. To be able to come back to New Zealand and to be openly positive and not only that be actually actively setting up support groups did did you know him much? No, I never met him. He, um he did a trip through the South Island, [00:17:00] which, um, basically raised awareness with a few leading people in the community here. Um, but it was quite a quick, quick trip. I mean, it was probably only about a few days and then back back to north again. Um, I think he he he, um obviously was aware that that it was a There was a need for awareness about the disease and what was happening. And that's why he put a face on it. And that still really applies today. It hasn't changed because if you hide the disease and hide the people, [00:17:30] then people think it's gone away. So Bruce really did what what was necessary to do and what we need needed to do in the future as well. I mean, I know it's it's pretty hard to ask a person to do that, or even a person to volunteer to do that, but it's very necessary to do it, and and I respect them greatly for doing it because I know how hard it would be. But, um, yeah, Bruce was the first person who really got out there and said, Well, look, I'm I'm HIV positive or whatever it was, and I can't remember, Um, [00:18:00] and this is what is gonna happen to me, which ultimately did, and, uh, he motivated people to to really get going and doing something about it. Can you recall in those early days in 84 85 what the feeling was within, say, the gay community to towards this really ambient I think it was a fact was denial. I mean, that whites overseas. So what? [00:18:30] Let's carry on doing I mean, we we didn't really know how it was actually being transmitted. We knew there was something to do with sexuality and sex and stuff like that, and it was probably to do with Well, why gay men? Why Asians? I mean, there's always questions coming up, you know, um, and you, you you put two and two together to some extent, But you knew that gay men, particularly in those areas like the Castro and San Francisco. I mean, [00:19:00] sex was full on on multiple sexual partners and so forth. I mean, that was the same thing happening here, too. But it seemed to lean itself towards the possibility that it could be just a gay disease. But we still weren't convinced about that. It didn't matter whether it was gay disease anyway, because the fact is that it was a disease and I don't see anybody. I couldn't see anybody's sexuality having an effect on that. The fact was that you're a human being and and you picked up a virus. So [00:19:30] what? That person needs support and treatment, simple as that. So I mean, it was but here, I, I think, Yeah, it took. It took a while before people really realised exactly what the situation possibly could be. And what about in the wider community? Was there kind of apprehension or just something that this was actually happening overseas and we didn't need to care about it? Or I think people like lately in 85 were becoming more concerned about it. Um, there was more news [00:20:00] coming through about the numbers of people and the fact that people were dying relatively quickly. Uh, and there was no cure, and it taken a long time for governments to get into gear and they'll be doing anything. And the fact it was the gay community who produced the first leaflets and pamphlets that went out. Um, and the health department had refused or the government refused to fund any of that sort of stuff at all. So there was a gay community who funded those initial information [00:20:30] type pamphlets. And funny enough, the house services grabbed them. I mean, they thought it was great. I mean, here's some information about disease we knew nothing about, and I mean the the The fact was that the the AIDS um organisation or the AIDS Support network, initially provided really the only information, any substantial information, any true information to to the public not only the public, [00:21:00] but, of course, to their own communities as well. Um, and and the health services then began to recognise that there was a real problem. So I mean that that whole process that people gradually became aware of the of that and were concerned, um, was part important part of the process to actually start prevention work. But unfortunately it's there's always people out there who, in denial, they don't want to know. [00:21:30] That hasn't changed much. from then till now. So the organisation based in Christchurch did it have much to do with the other centres like Wellington and Auckland? Was there a kind of an overarching communication or Oh, there was communication. Yeah. Um I mean later. Later on in course 85 86 there were regular sort of get togethers, um, of these organisations. But that [00:22:00] really came on more under the brother of the Yeats Foundation. But initially we're working a bit in isolation, I suppose. But we're all sharing information and we trying to model our programmes similar to others. Could you describe for me that first intake of volunteers? So the 50 people, what kind of people were were coming forward or gay males? All men have sex with men, whether they identified as gay or not, um [00:22:30] as, say, out of that 50 we we selected only 30. There were people who had been act or are active or had been active in the community and various organisations. And what have you or people who felt that they needed to do something or needed to provide what they could in terms of expertise or their knowledge or whatever it was or just their their person power. Really? You know, being able to do something. Um, [00:23:00] yeah. And it was a It was a pretty broad spectrum of the community. I mean, it was from, well, whatever Brick lay through to to, um, professors. And, you know, I mean, it was it was a a good cross section of people of all ages. Probably more in the sort of late twenties, 35 age group, mainly. Yeah. And when you say screening, what kind of things did you say or do to kind of [00:23:30] get down to 30 from 50 was more. It was more about asking people what what they saw as what they can contribute and what sort of skills they brought to whether they had any background in terms of medical or counselling. And what have you? Um, and also their motivation was the important one. we didn't really want people who who really, um, just [00:24:00] wanted to help people, you know, help people from the illness and that sort of stuff or help a cure or something like that. Maybe some religious affiliations more the way out. Ones I should say, would be it would have been excluded because of of again, the motivations in terms of their own agendas was the agenda that we were particularly concerned about because, let's face it, you're dealing with people who are unwell, who are really [00:24:30] facing a short life span, and they certainly didn't want to have to cope with somebody else's agenda or a lack of understanding. So there was those things. I mean, you can't always be 100% on these things, but I think with the skills that that our panels our panel brought to to the interview process, um, brought out any, um, any deficit, shall we say, I know [00:25:00] we set ourselves up as judge and jury, but I think that's necessary at that point. And you say it was March 1985. That was the first in the first intake around. That time was when the homosexual law reform bill was going through Parliament. How did that impact on what you were trying to do in terms of supporting people with HIV A. I DS Well, we weren't We weren't supporting anybody at that point. You must remember. I mean, this was just the initial phase, and we didn't have any Anybody apart from Bruce in Auckland. [00:25:30] We didn't have everybody down here anyway, that we knew of. Um so really, it was It was really a mix of, um I suppose it was helpful in a way that that the whole law reform process was taking place because it actually had gained access to those people who are political and are willing to get off the bus and do something. Um, and also it it gave a venue to recruit from. It gave a venue for raising awareness, [00:26:00] and it also provides its latterly the AIDS Foundation, with a pretty good hammer in terms of the bill and why it should be passed. So it was. It became political as well. AIDS became political, but it was for the benefit of the community that became political. I mean, there are other people who are far more involved in that side of it than me. I was more involved in trying to get an organisation off the ground and getting [00:26:30] people trained. Well, if you could maybe, um, talk to me about the training. What? What was involved in in training? People we went through. We went through the issues about the possible transmission of disease. We went through issues about death and dying. Um, also talking about supports And what and what what sort of, um, what sort of supports we would provide? [00:27:00] We didn't set ourselves up to be counsellors, but counselling was was an integral part in terms of the volunteers of being aware of of processes and what happens there. We talked about the health system and we talked about referring on and all those sessions. I mean, over a two day period, there's a lot of bonding going on as well. A lot of those [00:27:30] sorts of bonding activities And what have you, um, and getting people to talk about themselves and how they felt about it and what would happen and so forth. So it was. It was a real mixture of, of understanding about disease and dying and and and so forth, but also understanding themselves and how they would cope and understanding what support systems needed to be in place and so forth and understanding what they can expect from the health system. [00:28:00] So that was two days, Um, after that we had regular trainings on the Monday night for six weeks and that again, we didn't make any final decisions as to who was going to be in the group until then. Um, we start off with the initial 30 odd, um, and they carried on for six weeks. And after that, if anything came out which wouldn't be helpful for the person with with the disease, then we [00:28:30] would ask them if they wouldn't mind just standing aside at the moment, there would be something else for them later on. So I mean, it was primarily focused on support. And to that end we brought in experts from other fields who were involved in support for other diseases, and they provide their expertise. So those sessions, as they went on for six weeks And at the end of that six weeks, another assessment done. Some people opted out and said, Well, no, it's not for me. It's too heavy. And [00:29:00] others stayed in, of course. So the first support group was formed, basically. And then, from then on, we had, um I think for that year we had another two two groups formed for in the same process and of similar size. Yeah, basically, um, again, I mean, we we could pick and choose a bit because we had a We had a good pool of people that we [00:29:30] didn't have anybody to support. But it was an ongoing training process. It was an ongoing, um, process where people would develop themselves and feel comfortable with their own feelings with other people and and so forth. So that was very important. Yeah, the training materials that you were using. Where did they come from? Uh, various sources. I mean, we we drew on people with that expertise. Um, they provided those resources, um, [00:30:00] and also talking about their own issues and so on with homosexuality And what have you? I mean, all those things have to be confronted. Because if somebody wasn't happy about their own sexuality, then God, you can't put that on somebody who's trying to try to get through life, You know, the best way they can. Um, so there was all all sorts of input there for you. What were the kind of biggest learnings over that period in terms of taking people through this process? Um, for me, [00:30:30] I think, uh, I think it was basically I was probably I was learning about those issues as well. I have not got a medical background. I hadn't got a counselling background. I haven't got any of those cells. What I did have was an organisational background and entrepreneurial background. Um, and that was where my strengths were lie. But of course, Obviously, I needed to understand I needed to understand about medicine. I need to understand about viruses and disease and stuff like that. And [00:31:00] I laid my hands on every piece of paper I could about the diseases of developing the states from the CDC in Atlanta that the centre of disease control in the, um and got that updates every week. In fact, every day, in fact, I mean paper of growing things. So I became really not just me, but other people became experts on what this disease was doing, how it needs to be treated and not not so much treated because there was no treatment then, but how it had [00:31:30] to be, uh, how people had to be supported and and so forth and how possible transmissions were and all the rest of it and also it it It encouraged me to, um, probably look at more in the terms of social work and social supports and all those sorts of things and community work, which I hadn't. I've been OK. I've been involved in gay politics to some extent, but I hadn't been so heavily involved in other areas of that nature. So it was a development process for [00:32:00] me and and had to become an expert because who else was that? The medical profession. Didn't know Health department didn't know government didn't want to know, and the average person in the street had no idea whatsoever. So a few of us became experts, Um, totally out of our fields, um, about something which is occurring overseas. And we go here when you were getting those piles of information from overseas, can you recall [00:32:30] what you thought might happen in New Zealand? I had no doubt that because of the of of the Kiwi Um uh, liking of travel, Um, I mean, it was usual for people to go overseas, particularly after they complete their degree or before it or whatever and that sort of thing. And gay men, um, travelled a lot in terms of other communities. And what have you It's only a matter of time. Um they're bound to have come here. [00:33:00] Um, yeah, we were very aware of that, and it was just a matter of time. Did you have any idea of the possible number of people that might be affected? We can engage that by the by what was happening overseas. I mean, particularly in America. Um, the the hundreds and thousands, I say 100 Hundreds of thousands of thousands of people, uh, were becoming unwell. [00:33:30] Um, and and it could be anywhere in the States. I mean, it didn't have to be in a major city. So it was obvious that, um, men who have sex with men were very vulnerable. And for some reason, I said before Haitians, I still don't know this thing Violations. But anyway, probably probably just because the, um the way the virus started to spread, that was all, Um so it was It was only a question of time. And it was a question [00:34:00] also of on making sure people understood in the community that it was an essential thing. But the first part was providing support for people who potentially came back from overseas to New Zealand. They didn't necessarily catch the virus here. They brought it with them. And that also had a double role in terms of protecting the other society as a whole, particularly men who are secular men. Because if they brought the virus back here, they really need to understand that they couldn't do what they wanted [00:34:30] to do as I had done before. Not not that they were probably able to anyway, because they were pretty sick on them. So by the end of 1985 were you actually supporting any people with the virus? No, not South. Not here. And when did that start happening? Might have been 80 end of 85 86 but definitely 86 early 86. And what kind of numbers? [00:35:00] Not large numbers. I need one or two people. They came back from America. Yeah, and we provide support for them. And what was that like suddenly being in a real situation as opposed to going through training? How how did that differ from the training? To be frank, it didn't. It didn't seem to be a change. It was just more of the same because we'd all gone through this in terms [00:35:30] of knowing what we had to do. and and And we We knew what we were up against. And we knew that people coming back had all sorts of diseases and being unwell. There was all sorts of issues in terms of families and those sorts of things that we had to as well, trying to help the families understand, um, and particularly often dealing with son's sexuality, which they probably didn't know about. So those issues, the homophobia, [00:36:00] then you have the community as a whole who are concerned about them living next door, whatever it was going to work where it might have been, Um, I mean, obviously, some of those people weren't able to go to work anyway, and then you're dealing with social services and you're dealing with medical fraternity. You didn't know what to do with them who were just as scared as anybody else. And and if they went to hospital, they were faced with their foods, slid under the door of the of the room because they were isolated [00:36:30] from everybody else. And I mean, the the um yeah, people didn't know what how to cope with it. They didn't know how to handle these people. Um, and that was a major problem society as a whole. It was the whole unfairness of it because people had because people were gay. [00:37:00] It was memorable day. Why had sex with me? Um, people ostracised. And so it was. It was only it was a sexuality as well of the disease, and it was almost like an excuse. But oh, great. We've got something now which will get rid of these people, and we won't make the life any easier and not willing to understand that transmission was [00:37:30] was more of a closer relationship than just being in the same room or drinking in the same coffee cup and all that sort of stuff. And I said in my paper, I mean we as as carers and, um and involved in education of of white city community, particularly health community, um, that people were very careful about not drinking on the same or having the same mug or cup of coffee as as we have. [00:38:00] Um, those sorts of issues were very prevalent and not touch it. That that's probably the hardest thing for people with HIV, and they be they be in those days wanted to touch it. Um, our carers knew it was OK. So they were the ones who actually provided that. So it was ostracising a whole group [00:38:30] of young people, and these were young people. There were people in their late teens, early twenties. We had her whole life before them before. And now maybe one year, maybe less. Maybe six months. They were difficult times. They were. They were political times. Um and we had to confront [00:39:00] those people who are making these irrational decisions. We had to confront the health services, how inappropriate it was that these people should be isolated in such a manner that people would gown up and put masks on and gloves. And what have you before even going in the room? I mean, sure, there was some uncertainty about the virus, but it became pretty We aware [00:39:30] that this virus was transmitted in certain ways. It wasn't just through the air because it was through the air. Let's face it, there would have been 50,000 more times people coming down with what there was. And of course, the whole thing about the the right wing and the the evangelists and all the rest of them, the fundamentalists grasped onto this one is that Here's the condemnation from God and so forth. So you would have all that to cope with as well. And and they were really they were really quite [00:40:00] happy to, you know, to pour this on to these people and contain condemn them as being sinners and so forth. So you all have all that stuff. So it was It was a very complex issue and still is today. But, I mean, in those days, it was very even more complex because of the fact was that we are still, um, not totally aware of all the repercussions. No, he dies. [00:40:30] I also have to apologise for the sound effects in the background. Which is, um I think some construction work, uh, possibly because of the earthquakes earlier on. But, um, it's it's unfortunate. So I do hope this our voices carry across over the skill blade. So in 1986 the AIDS Foundation came into being. I'm just wondering, how did we [00:41:00] move from the AIDS support network through to the AIDS Foundation? How did that happen? Well, I mean, a support network was basically a volunteer group. There was no funding. I mean, we supplied our own funding. Um and then the government gave some money in in 86. And, uh uh, it was in feasible. To employ somebody to be in a coordinating role nationally [00:41:30] as well as a board was was established and those sorts of things. And it really was just a question of of, um, combining that structure with the existing structures and put them together and calling them all the AIDS Foundation, which then really was helpful in terms of coordinating the the the focus as well as, um, having something to go to the government with and saying, Well, we've got this under our hat here. This is happening now, [00:42:00] Um, we need funding for it, and that's how it happened. So the funding came in dribs and drabs was 100,000 in the 1st 1st instance, and then there was more money coming. But you see, the AIDS Foundation also presented a very political front because it was actually able to communicate with the politicians directly. Uh, and there were people who were in their foundation at that point in time that this sort of later on 86 who had a lot of expertise in the political area [00:42:30] and a lot of connections. Important connections. So that was all part of that process. All part of that game machine. Um, and also, the funding that came through with them provided also the ability to employ people, uh, in the in the, uh in a national sense as well as the local sense. So that's when, uh, there was an appointment made here of of regional coordinator. Was there ever a tension [00:43:00] between, um I guess going from, you know, a completely voluntary situation to something that has paid staff and also a tension between going from a kind of a support organisation to something that's a bit more political with the tensions there, the real I mean, the reality was that the people who were driving the local wage built network were all people who were employed except for myself. They all were busy [00:43:30] with their jobs and what have you And this was becoming quite quite large in terms of time and and commitment. Not that they begrudged that, but the fact was that I mean, the reality is I got to end the bread and butter first before I start giving and, um So there was no, there was no real problem there at all. We we wanted to retain our autonomy in terms of being AAA South Island organisation with no doubt about that. Um and we wanted to obviously [00:44:00] have a say in what was happening in South Island because Auckland based organisations have a tendency to dismiss the South is being something down there, You know, we forget about that for a while, So we we made our voice heard about those issues that might come up, but other than that, it was very supportive in terms of having a body there which was able to source funding, channel the funding and and provide that support as well. But we still had to fundraise as well because we were never enough money anyway, [00:44:30] so did the aid Support network. Did that, uh, dissolve or did it kind of morph into There was no actual process that just happened. A foundation came along and interviews were done for people to be employed, and that's the way it went. I and we all realised obviously that we weren't as a loose volunteer organisation were not able to provide that sort of national [00:45:00] focus. I mean that we're talking about a huge problem here. We're talking about a national problem. It's not just the Christchurch problem or Wellington or Auckland or wherever. Um, it it was a national problem which had to be cope with on a national basis and had to have that power behind it and had to have the right people behind it. You had to play that political game. I mean, you you had the, um we had the governor general who was [00:45:30] Paul Reeves became patron and that sort of thing, it was all it was all a political process. But it had to happen. Because otherwise how are you gonna raise awareness? How are you gonna get the politicians side? How are you gonna get the money from the system? Do you think in the formation of the AIDS Foundation that the focus changed? I'm thinking, you know, when we're talking about awareness, education, support, uh, politics, How did you work out? What were the main things that the AIDS [00:46:00] Foundation should do? Well, that was done. I mean, obviously, it was done with discussion with the various centres, and it was, um, we had we had meetings in Auckland as well. Um, and also there was the priorities, obviously were to provide support for people who who aren't coming on well, provide political support for law reform. Also, um, source funding, which is another important thing. [00:46:30] More funding and produce materials. Information was was one of the first priorities because you had to get information out there. And you I don't know if you have seen the first information. Uh, posters that came out there were a for a a two or a one. They were pretty big. Um, probably about the size that mirror the two of them. I mean, anyone, anyway, isn't it? Um, those [00:47:00] those posters were literally full of information. They were They were in terms of impact. They they were not made for impact. They were there to provide information. And those posters were very expensive. They were glossy paper. They were circulated right through the country. We pray everywhere with AIDS and big red letters and so forth. And it was also it was also making people aware that we're talking about HIV here that's transmitted and not AIDS. [00:47:30] Age is the end of the line. People thought Well, here's somebody who looks ill. They must have HIV aids Or possibly that might be right. Here's somebody that looks fine. They probably haven't got anything so that to get the message that HIV was a hidden hidden category and this hidden, uh, infection and the AIDS was the end result of that of other infections because of lower immune system. [00:48:00] And so those sorts of messages had to be got through. And also don't be afraid it's OK to drink from the cup that somebody else might have used a week ago. Oh, it's OK to do it's OK to blah, blah, blah so that that sort of information giving was really important as an initial step because we had to pave the way to to try and offset this discrimination, this fear that was happening in communities. And it wasn't just out there. It was also within gay men [00:48:30] who have sex. A men community. Um, but yeah, I mean, we also had to inform how not to get this disease and the link up. Then, of course, with sexual activity and transmission of body fluids and so forth. So that was another national effort. Locally, we couldn't do that because we didn't have the money to do it with. But nationally, they had the money from the government to do it with and their direct communication and informed the government. This is what we're doing. This is the health process [00:49:00] and so on. So that was That was their advantages. There were no about that. Did you see a change in gay or or men who have sex with men's attitudes towards sex? Yes, and no, um, we weren't We weren't We weren't the six police or anything like that. And we weren't there to stop people from having a good time. Um, but we we did a lot of work in venues, um, in terms of [00:49:30] education. And we also did a lot of fundraising with gay communities and gay and lesbian community lesbian community women came on board as well, and they were great and supportive. Um, even though they were weren't effective, uh, to any great degree. Although later on, there had been a few cases. Um, but yeah, I mean it. There are obviously some people who who made decisions [00:50:00] not not to do certain things not to do perative sex without a condom and all this sort of stuff. Others decide not to have sex at all. Almost became a man. Uh, Sullivan. I mean, there was an over reaction. Um, but if you had the information, if you understood how this virus is transmitted and we're talking about later on here how this virus is transmitted, then, uh, obviously they would be comfortable [00:50:30] about what they could and what they couldn't do. So I mean, that was part of the education programme, and that came More of that came later because the foundation funded the, uh the people working in prevention within the gay community, or men who have sex with men, I should say, cos I mean, a lot of people don't identify as gay men or sexual men is the point. We're talking about activities we're talking about, not necessarily where your head's at, but what you do with the dick. Simple as [00:51:00] that. Do you think that the level of denial decreased? I mean, where where people still denying it in the, you know, 85 86 period. Saying I won't happen here. I don't think so. Took a long time after that. Still, it doesn't happen today, does it? A lot of people are still in denial that think it won't happen again. Um, [00:51:30] and there are always people who don't care. There are always people who don't take responsibility for themselves and other people. Simple as that. I mean, let's say it takes through to you can't blame one person with HIV and the one that hasn't and they both make a decision about having a risk activity. We're talking about risk activity. We're not talking about risk. We're not talking about risk people. We're talking about risk activities, and that's a message that took a long time to get through. Um, we're talking about HIV, [00:52:00] which was hidden disease as opposed to AIDS, so that denial is still there and there are still people. I mean, there are people in those days. Sure were in denial. And there are still people today in denial, unfortunately or ignorance. But I can't understand how they can be ignorant about HIV today. Maybe they are, I don't know. [00:52:30] So 1986 the AIDS Foundation is in place and you become the regional coordinator in the Canterbury Region. Is it? What does that involve? Um, basically more of the same is continuing on with the programme. Continue on with with, uh, recruitment. Continue on with diversification. Um, where are we? Where are [00:53:00] we going? To utilise our our volunteers and so forth. And And what sort of programmes could we? I mean, the national head. Their prime focus was, um, men have sex with men. My argument here was Well, that's fine, because that's where the virus is today. And where the where the where the highest percentage of the virus is, is there, um then [00:53:30] as it is today. But if we don't do something about other at risk activity, then there's no reason why this virus shouldn't spread to other areas and other peoples. Heterosexual Didn't matter what it was, bisexual or whatever. If you looked, if you looked at Africa and what potentially we saw was happening there. Huge numbers of people [00:54:00] being infected. It wasn't men who had sex with men. It was heterosexual. We're talking about a virus here. Doesn't give a bug of what you are. Who you are, is what you do. So it's quite simple as that. So we can't sit on Laurel. We couldn't sit on laurels and think Well, OK, well, this is a men's disease when the work is this because there's proof out there as it is, the foundation [00:54:30] didn't The foundation's philosophy was that the virus was mainly when men have sex with men, and that's where we should be putting our energies. We down here diversify a bit because that's what south of does quite often of Auckland, but not in a nasty way. We're separated by a piece of water. So we started doing education in schools. Um, we [00:55:00] started doing education with nurses. With GPS, we started to recruit going through the training programme. At this stage, I think we we always had people coming and going. But we had a consistent 120 people 100 and 20 volunteers. But we weren't going to get hundreds of people with AIDS, So it made sense to actually utilise these [00:55:30] people with various skills to work in other areas. And we hide we through the, um, generosity of a well known person in Christchurch. We were given a room in one of the bigger buildings and near the square which house our volunteer group, and I mean we had I say about 100 40 volunteers, and we had regular weekly Sunday meetings. Not quite church, nothing like that. But [00:56:00] it was a training session. Often we had updates of of, uh, giving people given updates on what was happening in terms of that, and also to to talk about their individual groups that they eventually were slotted into as they volunteered to do. Um, so we we looked at the the sex industry, male and female. We looked at the IV drug users because they were injecting [00:56:30] and sharing equipment. I say the Maori population was vulnerable because they were basically, um, discriminated against in many, many areas. Um, and we looked at other other areas as well, but primary we focused on Maori drug use, ivy, drugs and sex industry as well as of course, men have sex with men. Um and so we recruited actively people [00:57:00] from those groups and we trained them as well for them not for us, not not as white gay males to do, but for them to set up, set up their own organisations to go out and get this happening out there. And as a result of that, um, we had uh, 11 woman who who became coordinator of the, uh, pro collective still is today. We had a IV drug user who happened to be also a gay man [00:57:30] who had extensive experience in Europe and Asia in terms of the drug, um, fraternity and what you could do and what you couldn't do. He was also a part of origin from Australia and had been on his own for 18 since he was 18 or something and travelled around the world. There was a guy who knew what it was all about. He had connections. So he then got involved in the whole IVDIV [00:58:00] drug use, um, community while he wasn't ready, I mean, but in terms of the education and so forth, him and Gary McGrath from from, uh who who has both, um, from Wellington travelled up and down the country and lobbied organisations involved in drug rehabilitation as well as government to bring in a needle exchange programme. I work with Roger. He was Roger Wright, [00:58:30] who's a centre is called after him here, and he bashed my ear about drug use for many for a long time. I mean, I knew practically nothing about it. I'd heard of pills and stuff, but I didn't know much about injecting. So anyway, Roger, um, and Gary, uh, finally got this through the bill, and it was changed. It was changed. That position and syringes. That's history now. And of course, these exchanger was set up. Um, Maori was the arm [00:59:00] of the maori arm for, uh, AIDS projects collective in terms of of education for working women working men. Um, and as I say, we also got involved with we provide sessions for Doc GPS because their skills in terms of counselling were were pretty abysmal. And we got one of the top councils down from North Island. [00:59:30] I think he's still alive. I can't remember his name right now. Who did Saturday and Sunday morning sessions. The only way they get there was by promising them a free lunch. And, um, so we we persuaded them. We persuaded them in that way. Um, and And we did sessions with polytechnics who were training students in terms of nursing. Uh, we went to the mental health, uh, people [01:00:00] and and we also went to prisons. Um, we did work at at a time out of the local prison here, particularly with men that didn't go down too well with the officers. But anyway, and we advocated that there should be condoms available in prison and there should be free meals ass. Well, you know, we're talking about the eighties here, and still it hasn't happened today. Um, [01:00:30] so we diversified and we say Talk to school school kids, um, 13 upwards and got permission from parents. And what have you We did it. You did it right. But we didn't hide anything. We talked about sexuality. We talked about sex. We weren't doing the job in the in the organisation. We were doing something unique in terms of that, and we even went to Catholic schools and talked and talked about user condoms and stuff like that. So I mean, it was quite revealing just how accepting [01:01:00] the institutions were about these things because they realised the possibility of young people becoming infected. And, uh, they also realised that they had to do something. Um, and there was no point in hiding the fact that we were talking about sex, we were talking about penetrative sex. I'm not talking about sex in any other form, but penetrative sex, and this is what you need to do if you're gonna have penetrative sex. We were [01:01:30] obviously saying, Well, it's not a good idea at your age, but if it if it's gonna happen in the future, this is what you need to do. At the same time, we knew kids of 10 and 12 were having penetrative sex, and that's probably hasn't changed much today. So to say that kids shouldn't have sex education until after after they are 14 or 15 or 16 is a load of rubbish, because the fact is that they could become infected. [01:02:00] And as time goes on, if if it's a if people don't become aware, it will happen. Um, was there any, uh, negative reaction or resistance to those kind of programmes being out there? No, No, actually, um, it's really low key. We didn't make a big noise about it. We just contacted the school and contacted the right people and, um, people [01:02:30] who were responsible for the health curriculum, whatever it was, um, cleared it with the parents. They had the option of saying the child could go or not go, and 96% said yes. Um so it was very low key. I mean, the public didn't probably really know what was going on. I mean, if we'd made a noise about it, maybe family planning. I was trying. So we weren't crossing over family planning area. But, um, we were doing something from the point of [01:03:00] view of front line HIV education. Now, around the same time, there were things like the candlelight memorials and the AIDS quilt AIDS Memorial Quilt was was coming up in. I think it was 1988. Did you have much to do with those those type of things that came from America at that concert? Um, the court was very, very good at raising awareness about and what [01:03:30] was happening and and a loss of a loss of life. It might have been in Auckland first when it really started up there. I can't just put a date on it now, I. I wasn't personally involved in that, Um but when it did come down here, I had gone. I gone to Thailand at that point and the they had in the cathedral here, um, for several years, at different times, a number of people I've spoken [01:04:00] to just recount. The late eighties is a time well, late eighties and early nineties, when they were going to multiple funerals, like, um, I. I the one person was telling me, You know, every fortnight there was a there was a funeral. Did that happen in Christchurch? Yeah, on on a not as a great extent. I mean, obviously people were dying. I mean, people. I knew a lot of people who died, but, I mean, it wasn't It wasn't like Auckland. I mean, [01:04:30] Auckland had huge numbers of people, and I mean, let's face it, you still had to some extent, your ghettoised community, even though law reform had gone through. But this transition was happening over a period of time that that out to the four winds and like, um but yeah, I mean, people had grown up together. People had had partied together. They probably sex together and knew each other well. They had groups [01:05:00] met for meals and shows and whatever and that sort of thing, always always relationship were established over a long period of time. So you you obviously had the bigger your sphere of friends. I mean, the more people you you were subject to being lost. So I mean that it did happen here. I mean, it happened even with some of our volunteers, but, um, yeah, it wasn't to the same extent [01:05:30] and unfortunately, often hidden because people would never Actually, it was never actually said they had HIV. They died of something. I mean, obviously they didn't die of HIV itself. They died of pneumonia or they died of something. And that's normally what was on the first death certificate was that they died of pneumonia, so people didn't always know they died of HIV. And [01:06:00] that, in a way, did a disservice. I mean, OK, it was protecting the family, protecting the partner. Maybe. But on the other hand, people weren't aware of the numbers of people that really were dying became notified. But that same, you know, statistics. I mean, it's just a number on a piece of paper. But if you know this person, this person, this person, but that really hits home and it kind of makes you sit up and think, Oh, yeah, [01:06:30] it's not just in the next city is here, you know, the next country. Mhm. When did you leave the eighth election? uh, initially, 1990 the first time. And why was that? I suppose I'm I was an activist and entrepreneur and organisations have a phase. They have an establishment phase where you where you recruit where you raise awareness [01:07:00] where you do political stuff and all that do all those fundamental things to put an organisation on its feet in place. I was the entrepreneur I I was used to being able to promote. I was used to being able to sell or something and that's what it was really about. For me and I, I was an administrator as well as I still did a lot of hands on stuff. Um but the AIDS Foundation was becoming more bureaucratic. [01:07:30] There were more. It's more sort of power based in Auckland, Um, there were national managers, but being appointed and that sort of stuff And I thought, Well, I've done my bit, um see what I can do overseas and the reason why I went to Thailand. I went to Thailand in 1990 to the first AIDS conference in Bangkok. That was the first Asian I went there simply [01:08:00] because I knew that there was a major tourist activity from here to Thailand and most of those were heterosexual. I got but it was only a matter of time because in Thailand there was a huge problem. 60% of all the farmers in northern Thailand were infected because of because of six workers. [01:08:30] I knew it was only a matter of time. These people are going back with the forwards are going to increase the pro probability here and I thought, Well, if I could contribute something to Thailand in terms of the people there which are going to help New Zealand eventually and I would go and do something new that's the reason why I went. So I got out of the organisation here simply because of becoming more bureaucratic. It wasn't really. I didn't feel totally comfortable. I had lost sight of what it was about. But I didn't feel totally comfortable with [01:09:00] that role in that organisation and regional coordinator was flexible. Managers aren't there's a different role, but you actually did come back to the AIDS Foundation in the early two thousands. How did that happen? Well, I hadn't when I came back from Thailand, I mean, I worked over there. Um I came back and didn't have a job or anything and tried to get back to Asia. In fact, with the World Health [01:09:30] Organisation, they offered me a job in New Guinea working there. And I thought, My God, I know nothing about New Guinea has about 700 languages. How am I gonna possibly fit in, man? How am I going to get my messages through to what was happening there and I declined it. So I didn't get any office, any other office. So anyway, um, then a doctor [01:10:00] friend of mine who was who actually had been a volunteer in the AIDS Foundation, straight as I might add. But that was an interesting thing about the foundation. As it went on, more and more heterosexual women came forward as well as some heterosexual men. Um, just on the side, he he was chair of a trust which ran a needle exchange programme. [01:10:30] And he said to me at the time, I didn't have a job or anything and he said to me, We're looking for a manager, and, uh, would you be interested? And I thought, Well, I don't have a job at the moment. I knew a bit about ivy drug use cos Roger had taught me and I knew I'd been chair of the first board in 87. So I again I knew how it ran. And so um, [01:11:00] I said, OK, I'll give it a go for a couple of years and it's I stayed on and to 89. I think it was what was I 1998 If you get it right years mixed up here, Um, and then I. I decided that's I got bored with that because it was I put things in place was running pretty well. We [01:11:30] were getting more and more clients. I mean, the whole thing was growing quite quite well, and I've been involved in the national organisation as well the needle exchange programme. So I've resigned and, um then another opportunity came along, which meant that I had to, um, take care of some at risk people in Christchurch and became team leader for an organisation which cared for these people. These people who are HIV positive [01:12:00] the death for two years. Um then they changed the programme. So it was out of work again. And then the position of manager for AIDS Foundation came up and I applied on that. So in the two thousands now, how had the HIV AIDS landscape changed? In your opinion, it actually changed [01:12:30] it. A change from speaking from here. It has changed quite radically, not the situation itself, but the way it was being handled. You see, when you look at it in 90 we had 21, 120 volunteers doing various activities. When I went away, it was all closed down, except for the clinic clinic [01:13:00] was called it which provide counselling and support services. So there was a group of support people and a person, a man employed in managing prevention education. And that was it. The whole organisation had been contracted down further. National managers have been appointed. All the funding went through Auckland [01:13:30] and the autonomy had gone. So when I came back in 2000, um, it was a different organisation. It was very much it was focusing on support. You still had your one prevention education officer who had to do the whole area South Island. Um [01:14:00] and the emphasis really was on support. And sure, there were obviously more people who required support. But I did find it difficult. I. I suppose it was because of my background. Um, And when you say support, what what would that mean? Practically for? For somebody, For counselling. People with HIV counselling, um, support [01:14:30] in terms of medical health area, Um, terms of accommodation, all those sorts of things necessary for a person with terminal disease or potentially a terminal, I should say, because I mean by then, of course, the treatments have come along, which made a huge difference and people living a lot longer, but also presented more problems for those people living longer because of the fact that we were trying to cope with medications and bouts of disease and stuff like that. [01:15:00] Um, and also discrimination. So which hasn't changed a whole lot. So I mean, it's yeah, that was great. I mean, there was there was good things happening there, but I still was concerned about the lack of that community involvement in terms of education and prevention and stuff and that support process. I mean, if one person trying to do all that, that was a horrendous job [01:15:30] and it couldn't be done properly. It still the same today. Anyway, that's the way it was. And, um, I moved I. I did some radical things, I suppose, which didn't go down very well with some people. The initial clinic, when I was there was set up. We'd had a hospital board. We set up our own clinic initially in conjunction with hospital board in those days, didn't get on with them. Political. [01:16:00] They want total control. They wanted to go through the STD clinic and all the rest of it said no. Bugger off. We're not gonna do that. We pulled out and we moved premises to a, uh, a couple of apartments, Um, ground floor apartments or single. There were two story apartments joined together, and they were in Montreal Street and up the casual, um, Billy Anu and we set up a clinic called it was called the [01:16:30] Clinic, because basically was a person in the first World War who handled condoms and things out to the troops and all the rest of it. So that was it. There was. There was the clinic. I did get some premises next door a a house, um, for a massage and treatment room. And that was it. All the rest had gone So that was what I left when I left 90. The whole thing contracted down to the clinic. [01:17:00] And that was it. Um, yeah. So the organisation had radically changed from the days that I've been involved. But what had happened, in the meantime, was they had gone and left that premise in Montreal Street and moved to premises in the hospital. Well, that's OK. When I got there, um, the first thing I found was that the offices of rooms are very small. They shared one large [01:17:30] room with the administration for the ST I clinic downstairs. They were on the second floor on first floor, everyone ground floor, first floor, which meant anybody with any illness would have to go and climb those down stairs. The prevention room person had had the room, the prevention person had would not have been much bigger than than you. Probably there so small, Incredible. [01:18:00] The other rooms weren't much better, so I decided that we'd get out of there. I mean, it had been quite a long association. I've been there for several years, and the previous, uh, previous two managers have been quite happy there. But I hope no is no good. I thought we got to go back to the community. We're not part of the hospital system. Sure, people they go to hospital, they they see the specialists there so forth. But [01:18:30] that doesn't happen every day. So I hunted around for rooms and I hunted around for a building and particularly a building with some character and some warmth about it, because the hospital building is concrete. And, um so I hunted around and, um, found eventually, after being given the run around by a few people once I knew who we were didn't want us anyway, was a question of finding the right [01:19:00] building with the right owner down the right building. Eventually, after five or six goes and the right owner, the owner, as it happened, had a friend who in the UK who died of AIDS. He was very happy. We've been in his building. It was on a It was a A, uh, what do you call it? The, um, quite a large old old villa. And it was very suitable because it had lots of room and stuff like that and and a gun. [01:19:30] So I shifted the AIDS foundation From where we were in the hospital to there, which actually turned out to be in Hereford Street. And next door was the city mission, which I didn't think was any big deal. People in the city mission go out at eight o'clock in the morning and come back in about five or six. Our hours were from nine until five. So any clients coming in wouldn't need to have anything to do [01:20:00] with city mission. But as it turned out, people weren't happy. But the people were were were not happy where the people happy came to us anyway. But the clients, finally they they seemed to adopt it and find it was fine. I mean, the building was great. Unfortunately, it's fallen over. We the last earthquake earthquakes, but yeah, now they're they're casual street somewhere. Yeah. So anyway, um, [01:20:30] I suppose my relationship with the foundation had been quite good initially. And then after a while, I began to challenge things and I came to a crunch and I said, OK, my position here is not 10. Well, resign. So that's what I did. So that was the end of my involvement with AIDS Foundation for second term, But I think, you know, I was able to contribute something. Anyway, [01:21:00] I'm just wondering. Finally, if you could tell me what impact HIV aids and the work that you've been doing has had on your life. How How has it changed you? How has it affected you? Um, Mom's a lot more aware about social issues. Um, I'm still involved in the IV drug use as chair of the board and also on the [01:21:30] national board. So I still got some retain some. Uh uh, We, um What's the word interest in in that area? Not just because of its drug use, but because of HIV. Um, it's provided. Well, personally, It provided me line skills. Met a lot of great people. Um, yeah. I mean, a big education. Um, [01:22:00] plus for me as well. I mean, yeah, there's all that awareness of those social issues. Um, yeah, I. I mean, it's been very rewarding. And I've also meeting, as I say, a lot of great people in terms of all walks of life, you know? Yeah, and a chance to contribute something because we all [01:22:30] can often go through life, particularly if you're self-employed or something like that. And You're sort of focused on what you're doing. Probably with a lot of great regard for what the rest of the world is doing around you. Um, I'm not saying that's a generalisation. I I'm just saying that can happen. Um, and that Yeah, that became rewarding in terms of being able to contribute. Yeah.

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AI Text:September 2023