Screenshot - 23_07_2014 , 9_50_35 PM

Wollongong Lord mayor Gordon Bradbery comforts Carol Clancy’s son Andrew Malcolm at a candlelight vigil to honour the victims of MH17 on Monday. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

See MH17 vigil: Community mourns victims Carol and Michael Clancy



In Wollongong today

Read, not from Wollongong: Anthony Maslin and Rin Norris, who lost three children in MH17, say no one deserves what they’re going through



A message to the soldiers in the Ukraine, the politicians, the media, our friends and family.

Our pain is intense and relentless. We live in a hell beyond hell.

Our babies are not here with us — we need to live with this act of horror, every day and every moment for the rest of our lives.

No one deserves what we are going through.

Not even the people who shot our whole family out of the sky.

No hate in the world is as strong as the love we have for our children, for Mo, for Evie, for Otis.

No hate in the world is as strong as the love we have for Grandad Nick.

No hate in the world is as strong as the love we have for each other.

This is a revelation that gives us some comfort.

We would ask everyone to remember this when you are making any decisions that affect us and the other victims of this horror.

So far, every moment since we arrived home, we’ve been surrounded by family and friends. We desperately pray that this continues, because this expression of love is what is keeping us alive. We want to continue to know about your lives, all the good and all the bad. We no longer have lives that we want to live by ourselves. So we’d like to take the chance to thank everyone, all our incredible friends, family and communities, and to tell you all that we love you very much.

We would also like to thank the people at DFAT; the local co-ordinator Claire and most sincerely, Diana and Adrian from The Hague, without whom we would not be here. We ask the media to respect the privacy of our family and friends — pain is not a story.

Yours truly

Anthony Maslin & Marite Norris

Just caught up with last night’s HIV/AIDS #QandA – superb — 2

Though that should now read “Monday night’s”…

Now that the transcript is up I wanted to post some highlights in an episode packed with facts and feelings, and even new information. Do read the transcript for yourself, and/or watch the program on line. It is very special.

This set the tone:

I’m Tony Jones and tonight we’re broadcasting from the magnificent Melbourne Town Hall in collaboration with the International AIDS Conference, here to answer your questions: Indonesian Health Minister and Chair of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, Nafsiah Mboi; HIV activist and co-founder of the Institute of Many, Nic Holas; former High Court judge and patron of the Kirby Institute for Infection and Immunity, Michael Kirby; Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, who won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of HIV; and Howard Government Minister and ambassador-turned-commentator, Amanda Vanstone. Please welcome our panel…

Well, both the International AIDS Conference and tonight’s Q&A take place in the shadow of the missile attack on MH17, which killed 298 people, including many Australians and at least six delegates to the conference. To honour their work and the commitment to the International AIDS Society has emphasised the importance of continuing this conference. Before we go on tonight, we will pause for a moment as a mark of respect for those who died…

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A packed room for the opening session of the 20th International AIDS Conference

Global situation and trends: Since the beginning of the epidemic, almost 75 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 36 million people have died of HIV. Globally, 35.3 million [32.2–38.8 million] people were living with HIV at the end of 2012. An estimated 0.8% of adults aged
15–49 years worldwide are living with HIV, although the burden of the epidemic continues to vary considerably between countries and regions. Sub-Saharan Africa remains most severely affected, with nearly 1 in every 20 adults living with HIV and accounting for 71% of the people living with HIV worldwide.

For Australia see Snapshot of HIV data for Australia.

HIV diagnoses: The number of annual HIV diagnoses peaked in 1987 (at more than 2,000 diagnoses) and then declined each year until 1999 (when 724 diagnoses were made). The annual number of new HIV diagnoses has gradually increased since 1999.

In 2013, 1,236 people were diagnosed with HIV, similar to levels in 2012.

This part of the 1987 campaign is mentioned in this episode of #QandA.

I recall discussing this in English classes at Sydney Boys High at the time. It did serve an educative purpose then.

NICK CREWDSON: Good evening. My question was originally for Nic Holas but I’d like to ask everyone on the panel to answer if they want to. In light of rising HIV infection rates in Australia and what appears to be an alarming lack of awareness in our youth I feel like it might be time for another large national campaign for HIV awareness. If we are to do this, are we better off using the historically effective methods utilised in the grim reaper campaign but run the risk of further stigmatising HIV and scaring people away from testing because they don’t want to know their status or do we educate the community to the fact that HIV is now very manageable, make them less scared and make them more likely to go get themselves tested?
TONY JONES: Michael Kirby, let’s start with you.
MICHAEL KIRBY: I don’t think it would be appropriate to go back to the grim reaper. I think it did play a part at the time and it played a part in alerting people to the fact that there was this new virus about and that was useful and we got in early and then we Australians were lucky: we had Neal Blewett and Peter Baume. I reckon they were two great politicians, one Labor, one Coalition, and they worked out a strategy, they worked together and we’ve done pretty well but, as you say, the new figures from the Kirby Institute last week show that there are spikes. The worst of them, I think, was in Victoria, where there’s been a number of infections. We have about 1400 new infections every year in Australia. By world standards it’s not high but by our standards it’s bad and the spikes are worrying. I think it’s to do with not overplaying the notion that this is a treatable condition so that people think, “Oh, well, it’s just like diabetes. You don’t have to worry about it.” At the moment, without a cure, once you get onto the anti-retrovirals you have to be disciplined. You’ve got to be disciplined all your life and that isn’t easy and so I think it would need an entirely different campaign and we’ve got to be careful with this talk about end of AIDS, because we are far from the end of AIDS as far as I’m concerned, particularly in Africa and the Caribbean, where the leaders will not take the steps that we have shown, in Australia, do have a very good impact…

It is so hard to pick highlights! That is why you really must go to the full transcription! But here is just one more.

ALEX GIANNOPOLOUS: Nafsiah, there are over 600,000 people currently living with AIDS in Indonesia. A unique challenge that faces your Government is implementing programs which, on the one hand, have the potential to stem this problem but, on the other hand, potentially are able to offend certain segments of the Muslim community. How are you striking that balance?…

NAFSIAH MBOI: Oh, yes. It was a fight.
TONY JONES: So how have you done it because, if you’ve had to deal with conservative religious figures who object to the use of condoms, who object to clean needle exchanges and so on, how do you deal with them? How do you explain to them and win your argument?
NAFSIAH MBOI: Yeah, this was not easy. When the President appointed me as Secretary of the National AIDS Commission, the first thing I did was, indeed, invite all of them who were against it, as well as those who were for it, but we knew that this is a very difficult question because the law criminalised drug use, so there was big resistance So I said, “Okay. Let’s stop for a moment. We have 330,000 young people who are injecting drugs. Prevalence rate in some districts is already 67% HIV positive, hep C, as well as syphilis et cetera. What do we want to do? Do we want to kill them or do we want to save them? The easiest way is to kill them because if you don’t do anything, we keep on fighting among us, they will die. They will die of overdose. They will die of AIDS. They will die of hep C. They will die and if they get imprisoned they will die even faster because they get beaten up so they will die faster. But we are Government. Where were we when our kids became victims of the drug pushers?” And there was total silence then a policeman came, said, “Ibu, you’re right. We have to save them if we can because my son is a drug user and I don’t know what to do.” And that, my friends, changed the whole atmosphere, the discussion.

Memories of the Albury Hotel – back in the day…

See also Rampant: How a City Stopped a Plague (2007), Miscellanea again… 1 about Dr Cassy Workman (2012). And another from The Street to finish…

Just caught up with last night’s HIV/AIDS #QandA – superb — 1

This was a must see – much more so than #QandA often is. The panel and audience included people from the World AIDS 2014 conference in Melbourne. You will recall that some of the researchers coming to that conference perished on MH17. And what a panel!  Do go and see/read, wherever you are in the world.


Me with our friend Malcolm in the Hospice at St Vincents, 2007

At The Empress’s Wake, Midnight Shift Hotel, January 2011

The Oxford Hotel in Darlinghurst on Australia Day 1988

I see on the right there a man whose housemate I was in Surry Hills in 1987, who succumbed a few years – two? three? — after that photo was taken.

And let me repost a great story which is relevant to the education issues raised in #QandA.

REPOST: 21 years on– a sad but also brilliant episode

Originally posted on September 26, 2012 by Neil

Lost Gay Sydney on Facebook threw up another set of memories yesterday, cuttings that in the peak years from 1989 through 1993 were only too familiar, but for me one name stood out.



Phil Ainsworth, English teacher at Sydney High School.


That’s him on the right in 1989 in his role as trainer of the 1st Grade Rugby team. The skinniness is starting to show there. As it became more obvious he was up front about what was happening with his students, and I remember Phil telling me how difficult this was, but also that he received messages of support and thanks for his honesty from the parents of many of those students.

sydney-boys-high-great-hallI in fact worked with Phil rather briefly, as in 1988 to early 1989 I was teaching in St Ives, in 1989 dealing with a range of personal matters and sometimes not quite with it, and in 1990 to early 1991 at Wessex College of English. I did work at High in Term 4 1989, and again from 1991. I saw a fair amount of Phil nonetheless and was there in the final stages when, sadly, AIDS-related dementia also showed itself at times.

Phil was greatly respected, even loved, by staff and students alike, and greatly admired for his honesty and courage. The school officially attended his funeral at Christ Church St Laurence in 1991, students from Sydney High carrying his coffin. I was there. Later, both M and I attended the wake in Pitt Street, Redfern, not far from where M – whom I had met in 1990 – and I were then living.

A prize for a senior student showing courage in difficulties was endowed in Phil’s name at Sydney High and is awarded to this day.

Awful as the whole thing was – Phil after all never made 40 – I also remember it along with much else from the early 1990s as a shining time of acceptance and hope. The way the school totally embraced Phil in his last journey is the shining example – and kudos to all my colleagues then, from the then boss Bob Outterside to Tony H (also in that picture above), to Con, to Marcia, to Tess… The lot of them! And in late 1989 through 1990 I had occasion to experience that acceptance myself as they embraced me – especially my English/History colleagues and even a few senior students who knew what was happening – over Rob’s suicide, even accepting quite strange visits in working hours from Rob’s grieving boyfriend Mark.




I fear at times that the intervening Howard years have led us to fall away in some respects from where we were around, say, 1990-1991.  Do you think we have? Is this a less kindly time?

Footnote from Justin on Lost Gay Sydney:

I went to school with Phil Ainsworth, he was in the year ahead a me. He was an amazing bloke and a legend at the school – captain of the footy team, dux of the school, school captain – he excelled at whatever he put his hand to.

Wollongong transformed — 5

See also Wollongong transforming… 1, Wollongong transformed — 2, Wollongong transformed — 3 and Wollongong transformed — 4.

It’s over a week since that last entry and around three weeks since the first. Today’s Illawarra Mercury notes the progress.

Three weeks after the temporary closure of Keira Street, work has ramped up in Wollongong’s CBD with the mall refurbishment and GPT’s West Keira development visibly taking shape.

Walking up the closed section of road at twilight, the tall concrete structures of GPT’s $200-million building now have twinkling lights peeking out of holes in the facade, giving an indication of what the city centre might be like when the new mall opens in a few months.

Amid high fences, orange construction barriers and the huge hole in the middle of the road, the beginnings of the building’s architectural centrepiece – crafted from blades designed by BlueScope Steel – are arching over the intersection of Keira and Crown streets…

I took these yesterday:





Recycled from July 2009

Glebe Point Road 9

Posted on July 22, 2009 by Neil

Yet another place to eat! I like the autumnal earthy colours.

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MONDAY, JULY 20, 2009 Summer will come again

This was taken in Surry Hills on 4 January 2009. Not the weather for this now!

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In 1998

22 JUL 2009

Thomas did a post on this a few days ago. He was about 12, so I added a comment there about myself when in Year 6 – rather different from Thomas’s world. Of course I could (with a little difficulty) do 1948, if I chose – in fact I did a few years back. Or 1958 or 1968 – again done a while back. Not to mention 1978 and 1988…

In 1998 I was English and ESL teacher at SBHS and decided to upgrade my ESL qualifications. So I found myself back at uni (UTS) after a very long absence doing my Grad Cert TESOL – which was very good. Also I liked all those letters: Grad Cert TESOL (UTS) looked pretty impressive after BA (Hons) Dip Ed (Syd). ;) The lovely Jennifer Hammond wanted me to go on to Masters level, but I’m afraid I didn’t see the point at that time. M and I had been together for eight years. Wasn’t a bad year at all, 1998, and I had a rather nice Year 12 English class. I was as yet an internet virgin, having only a marvellous Brother PowerNote which had at least 32k of memory! But it was enough to do my essays.

I did spend rather too much time on Oxford Street, but as you will see from the essay linked above that too had its relevance.