Medlow Bath Memorial Park hosted a special event to mark World AIDS Day on Wednesday, December 1.
The ceremony, organised by the Three Sisters Social Group and Medlow Bath Residents Association, also marked the 30th anniversary of the park's AIDS memorial, and announced plans and a fundraising campaign for the memorial's restoration.
The existing memorial, which has been in place since 1991, pays tribute to the 250 members of the Blue Mountains community who succumbed to AIDS prior to that year, as well as those who have died subsequently, and those still living with the virus. The park and memorial is now set for a major revamp, courtesy of local landscape designer Justin Hungerford.
In a speech, president of the Three Sisters Social Group, Terry Preeo, said: "This memorial has its own story, its own special place in the fabric of the Blue Mountains community. Just as importantly, it represents a permanent memorial for all those people affected by AIDS, their loved ones, and carers in NSW.
"It also plays an important role in recognising and commemorating a traumatic time for the wider LGBTQI+ community... It recalls the trauma, but more importantly it honours the strength and resilience of this community."
The event was attended by Ward 2 councillor Romola Hollywood; State MP for the Blue Mountains Trish Doyle; Greens candidate for Ward 1 Sarah Redshaw; Labor candidate for Ward 1 Suzie van Opdorp representing Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman who sent her apologies; distinguished 'elder' of the Blue Mountains LGBTQI+ community Maurice Cooper; and representatives from the ACON, the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation and PFLAG. Shayne Mallard MLC also sent his apologies.
Also in attendance were members of Bendigo Bank Community Board, who presented a cheque for $1,700 towards the restoration of the memorial.
"Where we are now [with the memorial] is about creating a firm foundation for the future," said Cr Hollywood.
"Today is a real tribute to what this park is about. At the time it was established it would actually have been quite a controversial thing to do. So I think the fact that our community found a way to make it happen, particularly the LGBTQI+ community, is a tribute to their strength and advocacy."
Mr Preeo added, as the ceremony drew to a close on a humid Upper Mountains day: "It's a very personal, and a very loving place. And if we can perpetuate and preserve that for at least another 30 years, hopefully longer, it will be very worthwhile."
For information about donating to the Medlow Bath Memorial Park AIDS Memorial Restoration Appeal, visit www.threesistersocial.asn.au/aids-memorial/