ACT News

Campaign launched to fund AIDS Garden of Reflection

After years of planning and campaigning the AIDS Garden of Reflection will be constructed in a freshly allotted development in the National Arboretum.

AIDS Action Council executive director Philippa Moss said the garden was designed as a peaceful place of contemplation to serve as a memorial for families, friends and supporters.

Patron of the AIDS Action Council of the ACT John Mackay and executive director Philippa Moss with plans for the construction of a HIV AIDS memorial site at the National Arboretum. Photo: Jamila Toderas

"The vision for the garden is to create a secluded area for reflection which provides a sense of comfort and sanctuary," she said. "A special haven where visitors can remember and honour those lost to AIDS, reflect on their own lives and contribute to their understanding of HIV and AIDS."

Ms Moss said it was vital the nation's capital has an AIDS memorial site, and a community group of people living with HIV, their family and friends have spent nearly seven years raising funds and searching for a suitable location.

Design for the AIDS Garden of Reflection. Photo: Supplied

The AIDS Action Council enlisted the help of businessman and philanthropist John Mackay to serve as its patron. And Mr Mackay has been pivotal in funding and raising money to secure the garden's location.

He said the group had consulted regularly with architects to ensure the appropriate atmosphere was designed to honour the community.

"You don't want people walking through there and bursting in to tears," he said. "It will be a place where anybody who walks through, even if you know nothing about AIDS, would say 'wow this is a beautiful garden'.

"If you knew something about AIDS it would be a special place where you can reflect on the contribution of somebody who has died of AIDS and you can reflect on the community that have helped to cure some of the things that killed people in days gone past."

An overhead view of how the AIDS Garden of Reflection could look. Photo: Supplied

Mr Mackay lost his brothers, Stephen and David, to AIDS in the early nineties and said his personal investment to the council and the construction of the memorial is a "labour of love".

"I lived the full tragedy as thousands, if not millions, of others have done the exact same," he said. "I think of them when I think of what I should do here [the Arboretum]."

AIDS Action Council requires a further $100,000 to secure the construction of the memorial and is calling on the community to contribute awareness and funds.

"We look forward to the support of community members in Canberra and those throughout Australia to help us," said Ms Moss. "As a result, we will be making some special event announcements in the near future to keep the campaign moving."

Donations can be made by visiting the official AIDS Garden of Reflection website, aidsgardenact.com.au.