A new permanent memorial in Canberra remembering those lost to AIDS was unveiled at the National Arboretum on Sunday.
The first four of seven new “Gardens of Reflection” were officially opened at the site, which will eventually incorporate 156 new trees, stone walls, sculptures and seating areas.
AIDS Action Council ACT chief executive Philippa Moss said the Gardens of Reflection had been “23 years in the making” and was the direct result of five years of community fundraising and generous sponsorship.
“When it’s all grown up, it’ll be a private, secure, secluded, lovely space,” Ms Moss said.
“There’s been a community group of HIV-positive community members who have been working really tirelessly to get this happening.”
She paid tribute to local Richard “Rachel” Allen who had long campaigned for Canberra to join other capital cities in having a permanent AIDS memorial.
“Richard is a long-term HIV community member and Canberra icon and has led the charge to make this memorial a reality,” she said.
“Finally, Canberrans will have their own space to remember those lost to AIDS and increase awareness about AIDS prevention.
“We have great confidence that the Garden will provide a place for not only remembrance and reflection, and also inspiration and community building.”
The AIDS Action Council raised $170,000 to build the garden, and Ms Moss said the organisation would try to fundraise further to pay for a piece of art in the future.
The Canberra Gay and Lesbian Qwire performed at the opening, which was also attended by ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who first announced plans for the memorial on World AIDS Day in 2012.
“[The Gardens] are the result of the creativity, vision and hard work of the donors, designers and landscapers and it was my pleasure to officially open them to the public,” Mr Barr said.
(Photos by Canberra Gay & Lesbian Qwire)
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