The HIV/AIDS Legal Centre (HALC) is a not-for-profit, specialist community legal centre: the only one of its kind in Australia.
We use the legal system to tackle, highlight and combat the stigma, discrimination and vilification faced by people with HIV today.
We urgently need your donation to ensure that some of the most vulnerable people in our community are not left behind.
Every court case we take on behalf of people with HIV moves us a step closer to eliminating the severe stigma and discrimination still faced by people living with HIV.
Leave No One Behind
As part of this campaign, HALC's staff and volunteers will be sharing our stories over the coming weeks. These stories demonstrate the remarkable impact that timely legal assistance can have upon vulnerable men, women and children living with HIV, summed up by Adi* and his partner:
You can sign up on OUR BLOG and on our Facebook page to read about our work and share our stories. Help us to help people with HIV, and educate others about the difficulties that people face due to HIV discrimination and stigma!
HIV Stigma and Discrimination
HIV Stigma and discrimination remains a fact of life in Australia today. In the last 12 months, HALC has seen almost 1,000 clients facing a range of complex legal matters related to their HIV status. However: the government only pays for half of that work.
This means that 500 people would be unable to access this specialist legal assistance if it wasn't for the funds generously donated by people like you, and every year that gap between government funding and need grows.
- a third of people with HIV live below the poverty line;
- more than a quarter of HALC's clients are women;
- half of people with HIV have difficulty meeting basic expenses like food, rent and medication;
- half have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, and/or live with at least one other major health problem.
Due to ongoing funding cuts to community legal centres, we have to seek alternative sources of funding to ensure that vulnerable members of the community are not left behind. People like Marta and baby Zayne:
"I was so excited when I found out I was pregnant! Then I had my tests and was diagnosed with HIV, this was a huge shock for me. My doctor told me that it was very unlikely that my baby would be born with HIV, but I would need to take medication and be carefully monitored during the pregnancy and birth.
My beautiful son Zayne was born on 5 November. We were moved to a shared ward with 3 other mums and their newborn babies.
I noticed that when the nurses came to wash and change the babies, they would put on long gloves, goggles and aprons for when they changed Zayne, I was so upset that my baby was being treated like this. When I told the doctor about this she said “well, the nurses need to protect themselves you know”.
The final straw was when the doctor came to check up on Zayne and said in big loud voice “is this the HIV positive baby?” I was so upset that now everyone in the ward knew about my HIV status, my private medical information. Ever since, I cannot trust doctors, and I get panic attacks if I go near hospitals.
HALC helped me to make an anti-discrimination complaint against the hospital. I just wanted to make sure that no other mums were treated like this.
The end result was that the hospital apologised for how they had treated me, and they introduced new training for all staff about treating people with HIV with respect. They also gave me some compensation for the distress I experienced. I have put it in savings for Zayne's education. I couldn't have done this without HALC"
HALC assists some of the most vulnerable and difficult to reach clients, including trans people, women with HIV and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
The Hon Michael Kirby has been a long term supporter of HALC and he says:
You can join us
We need your help to continue our work. You can help us to make sure the most vulnerable in our society are not left behind. We need your help to pick up the slack for the crucial work we do that the government does not fund. Your donations will go directly to providing services - wages for front line lawyers and paralegals, for court applications and subpoena fees.
Here are some examples of the HIV-related legal matters that we deal with on a day to day basis:
- Helping David to keep his job as a laboratory technician - his employer wanted to fire him when he found out he had HIV;
- Helping to reunite spouses, families, parents and children, by assisting people to navigate the complex migration laws that affect migrants with HIV;
- Representing asylum seekers with HIV and/or who identify as LGBTI with applications for refugee status in Australia;
- Representing Stefan, who is at risk of homelessness and having his tenancy terminated;
- Negotiating a successful outcome for Suzie, who was refused insurance by an insurer on the basis of her HIV status.
And many more.
HALCs work is not limited to individual casework - we produce printed resources, contribute to the reform of laws that affect people with HIV and run regular workshops for healthcare and legal professionals, university students and the wider community about HIV and the law.
We don't shy away from running test cases that have a wider impact on the legal playing field - for example in the last 12 months:
- a successful appeal to the High Court of Australia in a case establishing when a person can be said to have intended an outcome from their conduct,
- a case to the Federal Court challenging the Australian Defence Force's discriminatory policies which allow it to terminate a members employment, or to refuse to employ a person with HIV;
- a number of cases challenging major insurers' discriminatory policies which allow them to refuse to provide insurance cover to people living with HIV.
We are supported by a dedicated team of remarkable volunteers who allow us to assist twice as many people as we would otherwise be able to. Our volunteers are recent law graduates, law students, and qualified solicitors and barristers, all of whom give up their time to help people with HIV.
With your support we can make sure that this important work continues.
You can help us by making a donation, and by sharing our campaign with friends, family and colleagues
HALC is a registered charity, and all donations over $2 are tax deductible.
*names of clients have been changed to respect and protect their confidentiality