Welcome to Level 4… Please enjoy the view

Well, I for one can hardly believe that it’s been a whole month since I joyously proclaimed, ‘the blog is back‘!

I hope you are enjoying the posts we’ve shared with you. I know that I am loving working with colleagues and peer workers to bring you their stories. It has been remarkable hearing about how peer-led organisations are adapting to the challenges of COVID-19 and helping their communities feel safe and connected.

It is not exactly a distraction from the COVID-19 crisis. But it does provide a constant reminder that peer-led organisations are made up of amazing, passionate, kind, creative humans who are always there, supporting and protecting their communities. These kinds of stories reaffirm my faith in people.

Photo shows two people's feet standing near writing on paved ground that says, "Passion led us here".

I’m finding stories of hope and humanity more welcome than ever at the moment — especially as those of us here at ARCSHS, along with our Victorian partners and communities, settle into Stage 4 restrictions.

What we’re up to

While you are working hard for your communities, we are working on a range of tools and resources that we hope will support you to achieve and evaluate your important work. Over the next couple of months, we plan to:

  • Redevelop and relaunch this (the W3) website
  • Publish a W3 Guide to help peer-led organisations who want to apply the W3 Framework to their work
  • Relaunch a newly redeveloped PozQoL Website
  • Produce and release a collection of tools to help organisations collect and analyse PozQoL data

We are starting a new research project using the W3 Framework. Over the next few years, we will be working with national peak and state-based peer and community organisations. This national study will investigate how they achieve and sustain the four W3 Functions in their work. With this work, we hope to generate stronger and clearer evidence of what works and why. We also hope to provide insights and guidance for investing in, and scaling up, peer programs in priority populations.

HIV 2020

At the moment, we are also enjoying the vibrant and diverse discussions taking place at HIV2020. (If you, like me, are in Australia and are unmotivated to stay up all night to join the sessions live, then you may also be excited to know that they are being recorded and are publicly available on their webpage and on YouTube).

The conference’s tagline — Community Reclaiming the Global Response — is inspired. As Ruth Morgan Thomas (NSWP’s Global Coordinator) said during the Opening Plenary:

HIV2020 is a protest. We are challenging ‘business as usual’. We are inviting those in power to reflect on the potential of truly partnering with our communities. But HIV2020 is also a celebration of our communities reclaiming the response. We hope many of you will join us over the next 4 months in both protesting and celebrating our communities.

Everything about HIV2020 speaks volumes about the power of peer-led responses — from its inception as a protest against holding the International AIDS Conference in ‘Trump’s USA’ to its commitment to providing easy access despite taking place in the middle of a new pandemic. It is a testament to their amazing ability to adapt to changing needs and circumstances and to influence and mobilise support towards positive change. But most of all, it proves absolutely that they will always put their communities front and centre.

A message to all the peer workers out there:

To all all of you, striving to keep your communities safe and healthy during these crazy times:

Stay strong. Take care. And thank you!

You got this

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