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Community, Medical Health Aged Care

Five Australians named ‘2023 Community Champions’ for their outstanding contribution to HIV care, community engagement and prevention

NAPWHA and Gilead Sciences 4 mins read

Melbourne, Australia, December 1, 2023 – The National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) and Gilead Sciences Australia proudly announce today the five Australians named ‘2023 Community Champions’ for their outstanding contribution to HIV care, community engagement and prevention.


Now in its third year, the Community Champions program was created by NAPWHA and Gilead, to recognise and celebrate the unsung heroes of the Australian HIV response. This includes people who work in healthcare, support services, community engagement and advocacy, as well as the countless allies, family members and advocates helping to better provide care and support, educate others on HIV and break down stigma.


This year for the first time, five categories were introduced to uncover the 2023 Community Champions recognising the breadth and diversity within HIV communities. These categories were Families Champion, Rural and Regional Communities Champion, Cultural and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Communities Champion, First Nations Communities Champion, and Long-term Survivors Champion.  Nominations for the Community Champions program each year come from peers and members of the community. The Community Advisory Council judging panel were then tasked with selecting just one individual per category among 19 worthy nominees.


The 2023 Community Champions recipients are:

  • Vikas Parwani, Senior Solicitor at the HIV/AIDS Legal Centre - Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Communities Champion
  • Judith Frecker, Clinical Nurse Consultant at the Royal Melbourne Hospital - Families Champion
  • Morgan Dempsey, Senior Indigenous Health Worker at Cairns Sexual Health Service - First Nations Communities Champion
  • Geoff Harrison, Founder of Lismore Lads - Long-term Survivors Champion
  • Andrew Buggie, Clinical Nurse Consultant at Lismore Sexual Health Service - Rural and Regional Communities Champion.


“There are countless people across our community who passionately devote their time and energy to support people living with HIV and to help prevent it. Whether that is by finding new ways to connect people with a supportive community, creating safe spaces for people to access information and care, or advocating for community needs. Community Champions is a heart-warming peer recognition program that allows us the chance to pause from our daily advocacy, engagement and support efforts, to reflect and recognise the incredible work of our colleagues, healthcare workers, families and friends, allies and advocates,” said NAPWHA Executive Director Aaron Cogle.


“This year, we made the decision to create specific Champion categories to reflect the range and diversity within HIV communities and so that we could uncover those champions who might typically fly under the radar. We were thrilled to receive so many inspiring nominations across these five new categories and were blown away by the impact of the contributions made by this year’s recipients. Notably, their continuous advocacy, often over the course of a lifetime, for better, safer, more personalised care and support for all people living with HIV,” added Mr Cogle. 


For more than 35 years, Gilead has worked together with healthcare professionals, academia, community organisations and inspirational advocates to support better outcomes for people living with HIV.


Commenting on this year’s program, Jaime McCoy, General Manager, Gilead Sciences Australia and New Zealand, said: “We’re honoured to have partnered with NAPWHA on the Community Champions program for the third year running. It is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the incredible unsung heroes of the HIV response but importantly it is also a platform to engage and educate more people about HIV in Australia in 2023, to tackle the continued stigma and misinformation that impacts the quality of life of the 29,000 people living with HIV today. We want more Australians to understand that 40 years of scientific innovation, community partnership and public health advocacy and Government bipartisanship has helped transform HIV from an inevitably fatal diagnosis to one that can be prevented and managed.”


“Our work as a sector however is not done. At Gilead, we will continue to support community-led programs, research and healthcare working towards health equity for all people impacted by HIV. We believe that together, we can end the epidemic for everyone, everywhere and we are delighted to recognise remarkable individuals like the 2023 Community Champions,” Ms McCoy added.


To learn more about the 2023 Community Champions please click here:

Issued by SenateSHJ on behalf of NAPWHA and Gilead Sciences.



The National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) is Australia’s peak non-government organisation representing community-based groups of people with HIV across Australia. The organisation provides advocacy, policy, health promotion, effective representation, and outreach on a national level. Their work includes a range of health and education initiatives that promote the highest quality standard of care for HIV-positive people. NAPWHA’s vision is a world where all people with HIV can reach their full potential free from stigma and discrimination.


About Gilead Sciences  

Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company that has pursued and achieved breakthroughs in medicine for more than three decades, with the goal of creating a healthier world for all people. The company is committed to advancing innovative medicines to prevent and treat life-threatening diseases, including HIV, viral hepatitis and cancer. Gilead operates in more than 35 countries worldwide, with headquarters in Foster City, California. 


Based in Melbourne, Gilead Sciences Australia and New Zealand employs over 100 people. 


About Gilead | HIV

Over the past 35 years, Gilead has relentlessly pursued a better, healthier world for people living with HIV. Together with Australian researchers, community organisations and inspirational advocates, their contribution spans the full continuum of HIV care – from prevention to treatment to working toward the ultimate goal: a cure.


Gilead works closely with and listens to the communities most affected by HIV to urgently advance prevention and treatment strategies and advocate for policies that address discrimination and ensure people receive the care and services they need. Through many global and local collaborations, Gilead strives to reduce disparities across HIV care and prevention, advance education among healthcare professionals and support local communities.


Gilead, the Gilead logo and the Creating Possible tagline are registered trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc. Gilead Sciences Pty Ltd. Level 28, 385 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000, Victoria, Australia. ABN 71 072 611 708. AU-UNB-0762 Date of preparation: November 2023 



Key Facts:

Susannah Wade, Gilead Australia

+ 61 477 00 682

 Emma Oxenburgh, NAPWHA

+61 413 535 632

Chloe Danvers, SenateSHJ

+61 466 626 429 

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