Amid the general commotion this week – Queensland’s public service cull, the federal vote not to amend the Marriage Act – there was a quiet withdrawal.
When contacted by phone this morning, a spokesman for Health Minister Lawrence Springborg responded: “The website is being redeveloped and updated to be able to include promotion of the upcoming World AIDS Day and samples of the online advertisements that will appear in mainstream and gay media.
“The mainstream television advertisement titled “Let’s End HIV”, that is the product of market research including with focus groups comprised entirely of gay participants, remains on the website at the exact same link where it has been from the very first day the campaign was launched,” he added.
“The website will continue to be updated and re-modelled with the input and progress from the new Ministerial Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS which is part of the LNP government’s commitment to making HIV/AIDS not only a health priority but to also ‘make it history’.
“The website will also be updated to include promotion of the upcoming World AIDS Day on 1st December corresponding with the LNP’s decision to increase the State Government grant for World AIDS Day from $34,000 to $50,000. The almost 50% increase in the World AIDS Day grant under the new LNP Government represents the first increase in funding since 2007.”
It had been hoped by some in the gay community the Reaper’s disappearance signaled a more receptive attitude from Springborg in the wake of Dr Wendell Rosevear’s departure from the Advisory Committee.
In his open letter of resignation, Dr Rosevear is strongly critical of the fear-based nature of Grim Reaper campaign.
The Australian Federation of Aids Organisations has also declared it an inadequate replacement for the holistic programme undertaken by the now defunded Queensland Association for Healthy Communities.
More recently, the Grim Reaper had acquired an unforseen significance. For many, he’s become a symbol of the yet-to-be justified slashing of the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities, and of fears that future advocacy efforts by community health groups would be gagged by clauses in funding agreements.
Such fears appear to be justified with the first proposed gagging clauses reported by ABC Radio on their national current affairs programme, PM.