Volunteers and the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Sydney 1980s-1990s
Community Support Network
In September of 1984, a group of gay men with experience in nursing, trained volunteers to provide home-care for people impacted by HIV and AIDS. This was the beginning of the Community Support Network (CSN), which grew from the AIDS Support Group and AIDS Home Support, established by Terry Goulden, a founding member of the Gay Counselling Service. In 1985, its care and support services were integrated into ACON.
By providing home-care, CSN volunteers not only helped with laundry, meals, cleaning and transportation, they enabled people living with HIV and AIDS to live with dignity in environments where they felt safe. The volunteers who provided home-care came from diverse backgrounds. Some were gay men, some were living with HIV themselves, and others were members of marginalised communities, including transgender men and women and sex workers. There were also heterosexual women and men.
Many volunteered to help in this way because they had friends or families impacted by the epidemic. Others saw that carers were needed and felt they were able to provide this level of support. Historian Jennifer Power notes that in the 1990-1991 financial year, CSN staff and volunteers provided 11,874 shifts for their 173 clients, amounting to more than 72,000 hours of care.