Positive Life NSW Logo 2021

Media Release

4 July 2021

This NAIDOC week, Positive Life NSW celebrates the true custodians of our land, that is made up of many nations with this year’s theme, Heal Country, heal our nation. In 2021 we join all Australians in acknowledging the position of Country as a central living force, sustaining life in every aspect since the dawn of time. It is more than a place.

“We go home to country to heal and to connect with family,” says Michelle Tobin, Aboriginal woman of the Yorta Yorta Nation living with HIV, a descendant of the Stolen Generation. “In this way we renew ourselves and reconnect to the land, our communal wellbeing, spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally.”

As the Positive Life NSW Aboriginal Health Program Officer, Ms Tobin also reminds us that HIV still disproportionately burdens Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“While race is no predictor of health, being Aboriginal today raises the incidence of poor health outcomes, including HIV diagnosis, for our mob,” says Michelle. “Improving our health outcomes is directly tied to healing our country.”

“This NAIDOC week all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous have an opportunity to embrace our First Nation people’s cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage,” said Ms Jane Costello, Positive Life CEO.

“We urgently call for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of First Nation’s culture and heritage for all Australians,” said Ms Costello. “Our mainstream public health approaches must invest in Aboriginal communal wellbeing, and address the social determinants of health including culture, kinship and belonging.”

“Sovereignty was never ceded, and our Mob should be deadly proud to be Aboriginal,” said Ms Tobin. “We remind ourselves, our HIV sector colleagues and the broader community that the right to protect Country and culture is fundamental for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.

NAIDOC Week 2021 runs from 4-11 July and is a very real opportunity for reform and fundamental change in the relationship Australia has with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Jane Costello, CEO – 1800 245 677 or email communications@positivelife.org.au

Positive Life NSW is the voice of all people living with HIV in NSW since 1988. We are the largest peer-led and run representative body of all people living with HIV in Australia based in NSW. We make a significant contribution to and positive impact across the spectrum of health and social issues on behalf of all people living with HIV in collaboration with HIV specialist and mainstream services to improve the health and quality of life of all people living with HIV in NSW. We do this through evidence based health promotion, research, policy advice and peer support.

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