More than a seat at the table - a dialogue to embrace diversity

Stream: Rapid Papers 1
Date: Thursday, 31 March 2016
Time: 3.30 pm – 4.45 pm


The Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service have worked with people on the margins, living with HIV since 1991 and with Hepatitis C since 2011. The margins we work with include cultural, ethnic, sexual and gender diverse identities. It could be argued that we work with those on margins of mainstream metropolitan service accessibility. While we work using bi-lingual and bi-cultural support staff, the model is based upon a way of working that often steps outside stereotypical boundaries of language, gender, religion or cultural expectation. Are we asking those on the margins to join ‘us’ or are our practices and structures reaching out and embracing them? If we step outside this notion of us and them – a task not unknown to the broad HIV and hepatitis sector, we can see opportunities to embrace the vast diversity, experience and resilience often overlooked as ‘complex needs’. The success of harm reduction in Australia was forged on a model where those on the margins set the agenda for lives, not of assimilation but of defiance, survival and ultimately celebration. This is where the strength to change legal, social and cultural norms and opportunity to change lives and systems lives and hides. Learning and growth for individuals, communities and services often occurs at intersections that push the boundaries of assumption and comfort for individuals, workers and services alike. We will present a sample of unusual pairings and outcomes to promote a practice that encourages services and workers to demystify and enter the CALD margin.


Dash Gray (Presenter), Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service NSW
Dash Gray is a Social Worker currently working as a Clinical Supervisor at the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service of NSW. Dash has worked in the area of HIV, hepatitis C and sexual health for over 15 years in NSW and Victoria. Dash has also worked in advocacy, counselling and community development roles in the housing sector, community legal centres, Aboriginal health services and with women exiting prison. Dash is committed to social justice and finding the healing in all of our lives, as individuals, within communities and as contributors to our planet.

Donatella Cifali, Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service
Donatella Cifali is a Social Worker working as a Clinical Supervisor at the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service of NSW. Since 1993 Donatella has worked in the areas of drug health, mental health, transitional support to people leaving prison, aged care advocacy, Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing, family support, domestic violence. Donatella enjoys working at the junction of individual, community and systemic issues as they intersect and impact one another, with a view to empowerment and justice.

Effie Katsaros, Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service
Effie Katsaros is a Social Worker with extensive experience in the HIV and hepatitis sector for over 20 years. Effie has worked as a Clinical Supervisor at the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service since its early days and as such has witnessed the changing face and experience of HIV over this time. Effie is committed and skilled in understandings of cultural diversity and the importance of inclusion, equity and access.