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In the 80s, the AIDS epidemic rocked the world and in response, the Canberra community rallied.
All those impacted by HIV and AIDS, including women of colour, mothers, sisters, girlfriends and the friends and allies of Canberra’s gay community, worked together to prevent the spread of HIV and provide support to people living with HIV and AIDS.
Now almost four decades later, the AIDS Action Council is launching a new name—Meridian.
The word meridian has many different meanings, and all of them help tell the story of what the organisation represents: community, health, and action. On the map, meridian lines show where we are in the world and give us a sense of place. In the body, vital energy travels along the meridian lines; and a meridian achievement is performance at its peak.
At its core, the name communicates the importance of establishing and maintaining balance and always striving for improvement—physically, mentally, and socially.
The new name also pays homage to Canberra’s first and only community-owned, community-led social organisation for LGBTIQ+ communities—the Meridian Club. A friendly space that hosted many community events and activities, the Meridian Club lives on in spirit through the organisation’s new identity.
Meridian will continue the important work of the Council in terms of HIV prevention and treatment, and supporting people living with and impacted by HIV throughout their lives.
However, the nature of the epidemic is changing. While transmission rates are down among gay and bisexual men, they are on the rise among other population groups, including migrants, refugees and women.
By rebranding as Meridian, we’ve extended our reach to the communities we engage with, and removed another barrier to HIV prevention.
The new name also makes space for the many other programs and services the organisation provides, and all the people that could benefit from them. Meridian offers health and wellbeing services and programs to people of diverse identities and experiences, including people of diverse sexualities, gender identities, and sex characteristics; people from diverse cultural backgrounds, including those who have sought asylum; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; sex workers; and people who use drugs.
At Meridian, we see the rich diversity in our communities, and we celebrate it. Our person-centred services and programs seek to empower all of our community members to live their best lives and live them proudly.
We want the people who can benefit from our services to know who we are and how we can help. We want them to feel welcome and like they’re part of a bigger community. A new name is just one way to make that happen.
At Meridian, we offer counselling and brokered psychological services, as well as suicide prevention and peer support services. We also run a wide variety of community engagement activities, which provide social support to community members, their friends, and allies.
Through our training and education programs, we support mainstream workplaces and institutions to build capacity and provide more inclusive services. And through extensive advocacy efforts, we’re working to stamp out systemic inequalities across the ACT and beyond.
The decision to rebrand follows a long period of community-wide consultation. We wanted to make sure that the change reflected the ideas and opinions of our members and partners, because at the end of the day, we’re here for them.
You can learn more about Meridian and the services and programs we offer at meridianact.org.au.