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Yarra welcomes delegates to the 20th International AIDS Conference
16 July 2014
A life size bronze sculpture recognising Yarra’s GLBTIQ community and rainbow-lined footpaths have appeared in Fitzroy to welcome delegates to the 20th International AIDS Conference.
More than 14,000 delegates are expected to arrive in Melbourne this week for the Conference which runs from 18-25 July and is being billed as the largest health conference hosted in Australia.
Yarra Mayor, Cr Jackie Fristacky said she was thrilled to launch William Eicholtz’s sculpture – COURAGE - on Tuesday night, just days before the conference began.
“We have wanted to acknowledge the GLBTIQ community’s identity and contributions to Yarra through a meaningful public artwork for some time,” Cr Fristacky said.
“The first call for concepts for this art work took place in 2011. So William Eicholtz’s beautifully rendered sculpture – which encourages people to find the courage to embrace their identity and sexuality – has timed its arrival in Fitzroy impeccably.”
Cr Fristacky said the sculpture - which references the character of the Cowardly Lion and yellow brick road from 'The Wizard of Oz' and Michelangelo's 'David' - also held special significance for Council.
“The sculpture is also partly in honour of the late Ralph McLean who in 1984, as Mayor of the former City of Fitzroy (in Yarra), made history as the first openly gay councillor and Mayor in Australia,” she said.
“Ralph also worked as a healthcare consultant for many years, including a period as executive director of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations.”
While the sculpture will stand as a permanent tribute in Fitzroy’s Whitlam Place (near the corner of Napier and Moor streets), Council has also supported a number of temporary initiatives to celebrate the conference.
Rainbow crossings have been installed at the intersections of Gertrude and Smith Streets and corner Peel and Smith Streets.
Meanwhile, the Smith Street Traders’ Association has supported an initiative to illuminate part of Smith Street with red lights, known as the Red Light of Hope Boulevard.
Cr Fristacky said a series of events would light up the night as delegates explored Melbourne after dark.
“Council will also bathe the Collingwood and Richmond town halls in red light as part of the conference’s Paint the Town Red initiative,” she said.
“Just around the corner from Smith Street, Gertrude Street will also come alive for the much loved Gertrude Street Projection Festival which sees parts of Fitzroy become an outdoor gallery for some fantastic projection art.”
Collingwood’s Sircuit Bar – official home of the Yarra Social Hub – will also host a number of events as well as promoting exhibitions, tours and performances for delegates at venues across Yarra.
"The AIDS Conference also coincides with the second outing of Yarra's second Leaps and Bounds Live Music Festival so there will be plenty to do in this whirlwind of winter activities in Yarra," Cr Fristacky said.
To find out more about what’s happening around Yarra during the conference, visit the Yarra Social Hub.
The 20th International AIDS Conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV and other individuals committed to evaluate recent scientific developments and lessons learnt, and collectively chart a course forward to ending the pandemic.
To find out more about the conference, click here.
Coordinator – Communications
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