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A tribute to Aidsline
“AIDSLINE”, a telephone counselling service, is established by a group of volunteers in response to the emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic of that time. The Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) provided the counselling phone-room and the Lifeline trained counsellors administered the service, whilst training new volunteers and supervising existing counsellors.
Following the approval of a recommendation by the Health Promotion Unit of Health Department Victoria (HDV), “AIDSLINE” was merged in March with the “AIDS Hotline” (a professional telephone service established in May 1985 by HDV), in order to have a single state-wide counselling service.
In April, AIDSLINE’s collective, organised by staff and volunteer telephone counsellors, decided to separate from the VAC and moved to Fairfield Hospital.
For the first time since the service began in 1985, Health Department Victoria committed itself to fund AIDSLINE, covering some basic operational expenses.
“AIDSLINE Incorporated” came into being on 15 May 1989, after the collective decided its incorporation.
“AIDSLINE” moved from Fairfield Hospital to its current location in Carlton in September
“Hepatitis C Helpline”, a new telephone counselling service, is added to the service due to the rise in number of people diagnosed with Hepatitis C.
The name of the organisation is changed to Aids, Hepatitis and Sexual Health Line Inc. (AHSHL) in order to reflect the diversity of the calls received on the service around HIV/AIDS, sexual health and other sexually transmissible infections and blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis C.
The “Vietnamese Hepatitis C Information Line” is established providing 24 hour pre-recorded information in-language.
AHSHL received the National Community Link Award in October in acknowledgement of its telephone counselling services.
The training course for telephone counselling run by AHSHL became accredited with the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE.
AHSHL signed a Memorandum Of Understanding with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Inc and the Hepatitis C Council Victoria Inc. The aim of that project was to provide an education program to Victorian Indigenous workers about blood borne viruses.
AHSHL provided a free 1800 number to all Metro and regional Victoria.
Introduction of the Voice Attendant System in January which offers the callers who ring out of normal hours of operation a pre-recorded service about HIV or Hepatitis with a number of options under each category, such as transmission, testing, treatment and prevention.
“Hepatitis C Helpline” name is changed to “Hepatitis Line” in order to reflect the ability of the counsellors to provide information on the other types of Hepatitis.
The “Cambodian Hepatitis C Information Line” is launched on the 30th of November providing 24 hour pre-recorded information in-language about Hepatitis C in Khmer language.
The Victorian Indigenous BBV/Training Project, developed collaboratively between Victorian Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisation, the Hepatitis C Council of Victoria and AHSHL, was awarded the 2005 Project Award for Excellence in Harm Reduction at the annual national ANEX conference.
The Department of Human Services discontinued funding the service at the end of the financial year. They cited a policy shift as the reason for this action and that it was not about the performance of the organisation. Even with the generous commitment made by volunteers to provide counselling on the phones, this funding was an essential foundation for the service to be provided. With this in mind, and despite attempts to encourage the Government to reconsider this decison, the service unfortunately ceased to operate on June 30th.
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