What is QuIVAA?
QuIVAA was formed in 1988 and spent 16 years providing harm reduction services to stop the spread of HIV and viral hepatitis amongst people who inject drugs and their sexual partners. It was known originally as the Queensland Intravenous AIDS Association, then changed to Queensland Injectors Voice for Advocacy and Action and more recently reestablished to just QuIVAA in 2020 to be more inclusive of ALL people who use illicit drugs. It was one of several not-for-profit, self-help, community-owned organisations established by injecting drug-users, gay-men, and sex-workers throughout Australia, in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
QuIVAA operates on a peer-based, user-centred philosophy, which means the organisation is run by and for people who use/have used illicit drugs and proactively encourages and supports people who use illicit drugs and people on drug treatment to speak on their own behalf and contribute to the organisation. The primary aim is to promote the health and human rights of people who use or have used illicit drugs.
These principles were articulated in the “Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion”. The Charter declares that “health promotion is the process of enabling people” to “take control of those things which determine their health”, by empowering communities to create supportive environments and take care of each other, through the provision of information, health education and social support.
Although largely produced with developing nations in mind, the principles of the Charter were seen, by Australia’s HIV/AIDS activists, to also have some application concerning the communities impacted by the epidemic here. The organisation representing these communities subsequently built upon these principles and, understanding that their members would be major users of health services for the foreseeable future, coupled them with persuasive, evidence-based argument, to call for consumer representation and community participation in the development of policies and programs that minimise harms associated with unsafe-sex and/or injecting drug-use; rather than demand abstinence and increase prohibitions.
With regards to QuIVAA itself, its founding members included Jill Dixon, who came from the Women’s Community Aid Association Inc. [i.e. Women’s House] and became QuIVAA’s Founding President; also Genevieve Graves, from Griffith University’s Student Union; Stephen Kelly, from the James Cook University Student Union; Peter See, from the Qld. Tenants Union; as well as Ben Paulsen, John Carlton, Colin Griffiths, Brodie Nielsen, and others, from the injecting drug-user community.
Other founding members included Adrian Buzolic, Mel Miller, and Dr. Michael Bolton, from Qld. Health’s Alcohol and Drug Dependence Service; as well as Dr. Graham Nielsen, and Lynn Biggs, from Qld. Health’s Fortitude Valley Methadone Clinic. Furthermore, many of QuIVAA’s early and later members had already served and/or went on to do great things elsewhere in the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, and related sectors. For example, Annie Madden later became President of the NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA) Inc. in the early 1990s, before again relocating to Canberra to serve as Executive Officer of the Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users’ League Inc. [AIVL, the national peak-body of Australia’s injecting/illicit drug-user community-based organisations]; where she subsequently exerted considerable influence regarding Commonwealth Government policy on injecting/illicit drug-use issues for many years.
Bill Rutkin previously served as an activist in the Campaign Against Moral Persecution, during the 1970s and early 1980s; then as Founding Treasurer and, later, President of the Qld. AIDS Council (QuAC) Inc., and then, as Founding Treasurer of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO), before commencing 26 years of service as either President, Treasurer, or ordinary Director of both QuIVAA and QuIHN. Similarly, Jeff Ward had been President of the University of Qld.’s Gays and Lesbians on Campus collective, 1990-1991; then AIDS activist and Information Officer with ACT UP, 1991-1995; before working as Education Officer at QuIVAA, 1992-1995, and then moving on to become the Founding President, then Coordinator of Hepatitis Qld.,1995-2004; then Vice-President of QuAC, 1997-1999, and Founding President of Hepatitis Australia, 1997-2003.
With over 30 years of operation, as a self-organised, peer-based organisation, QuIVAA pointedly recommits itself to the continued service and development of Queensland’s illicit drug-using community, and its ongoing ownership of the assets it has created.
QuIVAA’s mission is to advocate, educate and raise awareness about the issues facing people who use drugs to enable them to live a healthy life, free from stigma and discrimination. We also aim to develop, support and promote policies, training, and programs that support and advocate for equal health and human rights for people who use drugs in Queensland.
Board of Directors
Niki Parry, Tim Piatkowski, Sarah Reed, Fiona Harrington, Karly King, Keryn Henry