In 1992, after I had retired from work, I sarted caring for people with AIDS through Community Support Network, a sub-unit of ACON, the AIDS Council of New South Wales. Many of these people were vey ill with AIDS defining diseases and their life spans had become very limited. Already the losses in Australia due to AIDS were rapidly mounting and there were people left mourning in the communities for the people lost. Some of these processes were already in operation, such as candlelight processions and the Quilt Project with quilt panels made commemorating one or more on a panel, with 8 panels usually to a block.
At that time we had heard of schemes for AIDS Memorial Gardens where trees were planted to remember people who had died of AIDS. We started exploring he notion of having such a Memorial Garden in Sydney Park which was being developed into a park by South Sydney Council in 1992. The park was having community plantings and we made inquiries in order to establish an area for AIDS commemorations. We had heard of a large development in San Francisco and a small development in Medlow Bath Park, and we contacted people involved. Medlow Bath Park AIDS Garden operators invited us to visit and we made a few trips to find out what they were doing and how they were doing it.
We understood that the peole involved were operating with a certain amount of money whic enabled them to plant trees already between 1 and 2 metres in height, and they were also able to place a plaque at the foot of each tree with a plate giving details of who is being commemorated with the plaque.
their numbers of trees were limited and so was the planting space available to them, so they would seemingly end up with a few hundred trees
For us at Sydney Park, this sort of operation was beyond our ability to emulate. To start with, we had no financial resources whatever, and South Sydney Council was to provide tube stock trees for us - free, but in large numbers, and because of the large numbers of people we anticipated commemorating, our modus operandi would be very different.
We visited Medlow Bath Park a few more times by invitation, but we are not sure if any of them came to visit us at Sydney Park
Tree ceremony for AIDS Week
AIDS Awareness Week, which commenced in New South Wales on 25 November, culminated on 1 December with World AIDS Day 1994.
There were very many events and activities organised all around the State to target AIDS Awareness but none probably more healing in effect for those grieving than the tree planting ceremony.
There were two during that week which the Sydney Park AIDS Memorial Grove supporters were made aware of. The first was in the Blue Mountains on Sunday 27 November, and the second at the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle on Thursday 1 December.
The Blue Mountains project was initiated in 1991 and, according to Morris Cooper, chair of the Medlow Bath Park Advisory Committee, the group has planted 120 trees marked with small, ornamental naming plaques. That number, he said, included the two special plantings for the Committee and for the PLWHA group on 27 November.
The Medlow Bath Park has been transformed from a somewhat forlorn and inhospitable area to a quiet, peaceful and contemplative space by the Committee of volunteers.
On 27 November, the Candlelight Vigil, the impressive reading of names, an introduction by Sydney Morning Herald columnist and President of the Blue Mountains Community Services, Jim McClelland, and the double planting of two young maples were preceded by a Twilight Tea for around 70 people with music provided by the Blue Mountains City Pipe Band.
The AIDS Memorial Garden at the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle is a new project initiated by the AIDS social worker, Steve Coady. It was opened and dedicated with the first plantings on World AIDS Day, 1 December. 100 or more friends, families and carers from the Znewcastle area attended the morning ceremony.
The John Hunter Hospital care for most people living with HIV/AIDS who require hospitalisation in the region north of Sydney reaching as far as the Queensland border.From Kendall Lovett, for Gay Radio Information News Service – GRINS.
In loving memory of
those who have died of HIV/AIDS
locally, nationally and internationally
and to honour
those who are living with the virus.
The Three Sisters Group Inc.
and the Blue Mountain Community
Photos by Janine De Saxe
The following photos were sent to us by by Janine De Saxe from Medlow Bath AIDS Memorial Garden on 21 SEPTEMBER 2019:
Click on to each section below to visit all SPAIDS and HIV/AIDS web pages:SPAIDS PART 1 - SYDNEY PARK AIDS MEMORIAL GROVES HOME PAGE
World AIDS Day Australia
GAY AND LESBIAN HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL - PART 3:LAUNCH PHOTOS BY PHOTOGRAPHER AS YET UNIDENTIFIED, 27 FEBRUARY 2001
Mannie and Kendall Present: LESBIAN AND GAY SOLIDARITY ACTIVISMS
Mannie De Saxe also has a personal web site, which may be found by clicking on the link: RED JOS HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISM
Mannie's blogs may be accessed by clicking on to the following links:
MannieBlog (from 1 August 2003 to 31 December 2005)
Activist Kicks Backs - Blognow archive re-housed - 2005-2009
RED JOS BLOGSPOT (from January 2009 onwards)
This page started on 5 JUNE 2019 and updated on 2 OCTOBER 2019