AFAO welcomes new Executive Director

AFAO Darryl O'Donnell The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) has announced the appointment of Darryl O’Donnell as its new Executive Director.

Taking up the role in early March, Mr O’Donnell has been appointed to replace current Executive Director Rob Lake until the end December 2016, when a national and international Executive recruitment will take place.

Outgoing Executive Director Rob Lake said he has been proud to serve the community in the role for five years. “It has always been a challenging and exciting role, leading AFAO’s domestic and international programs, and I’m so pleased that AFAO continues to attract leaders of the calibre of Darryl,” said Mr Lake.

“This transition to new leadership and the next steps for AFAO in the Australian HIV response and in South East Asia hold much promise in meeting our national and global goals to end HIV.”

AFAO President, Dr Bridget Haire, praised the contribution to AFAO and to the Australian HIV response of Mr Lake since his appointment in 2011. Rob has made a significant contribution to the fight against HIV in his time at AFAO,” said Dr Haire. “We thank Rob for his commitment, leadership, and unwavering support over the last five years.”

Darryl O’Donnell has over 25 years’ experience in HIV across community, research and government settings. During the 1990s he worked with AIDS Councils in Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria. He has served on the boards of the Victorian AIDS Council and ACON and is a former National President of AFAO.

From 1999 to 2013, he worked for the NSW Government where he held a number of roles, including as the Director responsible for state-wide HIV, STI and viral hepatitis policy and programs. In that capacity he also led on many national initiatives. In 2013, Darryl was appointed Executive Director of the NSW Mental Health Commission. He returned to the HIV sector in 2015 when he joined ACON as Principal, Policy and Development.

“We’re at a tremendously exciting moment in Australia’s response to HIV. The continuing efforts of our communities, and the massive interest in PrEP, puts us in sight of our goal of virtually eliminating HIV transmission by 2020,” said Mr O’Donnell.

“To achieve this goal our communities need much better access to PrEP and new HIV tests, and our organisations need the resources for trusted, credible peer-based programs. We need both these things to achieve our goals: technology and people trusted by our communities to provide education and support.”

“In this federal election year, we’ll be surveying the Government, Opposition and minor parties and asking what commitments they will make to our communities as we work to end HIV. We’ll publish those results widely and ask our communities to consider them as they decide their votes.”

“There’s an enormous amount to be done to do justice to our communities’ efforts to end HIV. AFAO has been representing our communities and their organisations for 30-years. I’m delighted to stepping into this role and to be contributing to AFAO’s proud history,” added Mr O’Donnell.

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Image: Darryl O’Donnell – courtesy of AFAO