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UNSW Press UNSW Press

In the Eye of the Storm

Volunteers and Australia’s Response to the HIV/AIDS Crisis

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*Joint Winner of Oral History Australia Book Award, 2021*

*Shortlisted in the 2021 Victorian Community History Awards, Oral History Award*

The people who volunteered to help during the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s and early 1990s provided compassion and support to heavily stigmatised people. These volunteers provided in-home care for the sick and dying, staffed needle exchanges and telephone help-lines, produced educational resources, served on boards of management, and provided friendship and practical support, among many other roles. 

They helped people affected by the virus to navigate a medical system that in preceding decades had been openly hostile towards the marginalised communities of homosexuals, drug users and sex workers. In the process, volunteering left and indelible mark on the lives and outlooks of these volunteers.

For the first time, by focusing on individual life stories, this book explores the crucial role of the men and women who volunteered at at time of disaster. Despite their critical role, they have not been sufficiently recognised. Through their stories, drawn from oral histories conducted by the authors, we see how those on the front-line navigated and survived a devastating epidemic, and the long-term impact of those grim years of illness, death and loss.