Shayne Kilford

NORTHERN TERRITORY AIDS COUNCIL / NORTHERN TERRITORY AIDS & HEPATITIS COUNCIL 1999-ONGOING

    We’ve lost a lot of clients over the years. Overdose; they’ve left the Territory; they’ve gone on to treatment; some of them have come off treatment and come back and see us. Yeah, so it’s a bit of a revolving door. There are a few hangers on. It’s always got a bit of a changing face. We're always seeing news clients.

    I’ve been involved with the AIDS Council since 1999. I came up here in 1988, on the 6th of January. When I found the AIDS Council, life started to happen from there. NTAC was in Manton Street then. I had friends who were HIV-positive.

    Around about 2001 or 2002, I met a nice guy and he was positive. I just really enjoyed the community feeling of the gay and lesbian community, and found that I was accepted for who I was and that people weren’t discriminatory. I could be who I was and, well, I found out that I am a bisexual man rather than being a gay man, 


    and it was good finally to come out as not being straight.

    I got involved with the SWOP Project because I did a bit of sex work. Through Kitty Gee, who was the SWOP officer, I started doing some work in the NSP as a volunteer. This was until the early 2000s. There was a lot of work involved but they were only funding a half-time project. Most of the work was out of hours even though the job required somebody to work 9:00 to 5:00. Kitty was always working after hours and working more hours than she could do, so she really depended on volunteers to help with the NSP. Because half her monies was coming from NSP, she relied on volunteers to cover that so that she could concentrate on the sex work part.

    The NSP was really strange back then. Everybody had a number and it was any number that they could remember. We’d write down that number just to gather some stats on what was going on. Maybe half a dozen of them remembered the number the next time they came. The rest of them had to make up new ones.

    It depended on who was running the NSP at the time as to what changes were made. We used to have a big bench where we would serve behind and give people their equipment and what have you, which was pretty restrictive. Now we’ve got just an office desk and chairs to sit down and it’s a lot more open. And we’ve got our equipment on the wall so if people know what they need they just go and grab it. Yeah, it’s a lot better now.

    We’ve lost a lot of clients over the years. Overdose; they’ve left the Territory; they’ve gone on to treatment; some of them have come off treatment and come back and see us. Yeah, so it’s a bit of a revolving door. There are a few hangers on. It’s always got a bit of a changing face. We’re always seeing new clients.

    We were in Knuckey Street to start off with, which was just a tiny little place. People used to come up and get fit packs or something along the likes, and that was back in 1985, I believe. I’m not sure where they moved to after that, but that was their beginning.

    I was co-ordinator of the NSP around 2005/06. So that was good and a step up the ladder for me. That was a pretty tormentous time, really, trying to organise six staff and get them to do work. The staff didn’t get on with each other; they didn’t want to work; they weren’t motivated. So I sat them down one time and said, "Okay, what are your grievances. Let’s list them and work through them." They came up with twenty grievances. I managed to work through most of them.

    The guy who was manager of NTAC at the time didn’t want to have anything to do with the grievances of the NSP. If there was a problem it was fix it yourself, so I tried very hard to fix problems myself. I mean, it was just a matter of them getting together airing their grievances – and when we met again there weren’t so many grievances – just getting them to talk out their problems so that they could work together a bit better and actually do some work.

    It was around then that we started doing a monthly theme with the NSP to engage with our clientele a bit more. So that was my achievement. We did "Everything about your NSP", we called it. We did things from steroids to blood-borne viruses, and the law, legalities, overdose awareness, safer injecting. You name it, and we thought it up and did it. So that was good fun. It still is to a certain degree. We do it roughly every quarter. And we’ve got days of significance. So we’ve got the condom day, Hep C awareness day, overdose awareness day, International drug users day – and we do something on each of those days as well.

    Yeah, up until Frank Farmer left everything was pretty good. The gay and lesbian community seemed to want more than they were entitled to – and Frank was a good ED despite what people have said about him – and he was quite prepared to offer monies and assistance and what have you but, yeah, the gay and lesbian community seemed to think that they ran NTAHC and not the ED. They basically wanted NTAHC to run Pride Day and things like that, whereas Frank was like, "It’s your day, you run it and we’ll auspice it and go from there." He didn’t want his staff spending all their time working on stuff for the community when the community could work together and do it themselves. So that made some bad blood and it sort of carried on from there. People in the community got the Board involved in the organisation’s problems where it wasn’t the Board that needed to sort out problems. If they had problems with the organisation they needed to talk to the organisation not the Board. Unfortunately it accumulated into a bit of a slanging match and people gathering together to re-elect a positive board. So that was fun and games. But since that it’s been pretty smooth going.

    It was all pretty standard while Frank was here. Everything was smooth and flowed along really well. Frank made appearances here and there, organised an AIDS day ball, assisted with Pride meetings and auspiced the money for Pride. It was sad to see him go after only a few years.

    Colin Burton [took over]. He decided that all of the money coming in from our funders, et cetera, should be put in one bucket and then you just draw out of the bucket as you need it. No budget, no accounting unless it was bodgey accounting to show that he was doing the right thing when he wasn’t. Fortunately for him the accountant bodgied the books to make him look good. I think he left before people found out. The finance guy quit and he left and locked the computer so that nobody could get in and see the bodgey bookwork that he’d done. That made things difficult for us to carry on with a new finance guy.

    But yeah, the next ED found that. Oh, it’s hard to keep up with the number of EDs I’ve seen. Yeah, so we had very little money and didn’t know why, and then it was found during Alison’s term that the last ED had bodgied the books and spent all the money. So she had to put up with that and when she put in for funding unfortunately she didn’t get all the funding that she wanted. In fact she got less, so all the promises that she was making she couldn’t fulfil and ended up leaving a short time after that. She made a good effort at it but yeah, being badgered by the Board and that didn’t help, so, yeah.