Dr. Kirsty Machon - Executive Officer

Kirsty Machon has been involved with HIV-related journalism, advocacy and policy development for over 20 years, after first becoming involved in the HIV area as an activist and writer in the early 1990s.

She has worked for organisations including AFAO and NAPWA (now NAPWHA), representing NAPWA extensively in her role as HIV Health and Treatments Policy Analyst, with organisations including the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research (now the Kirby Institute), the International Network for Strategic Initiatives in Global HIV Trials (INSIGHT), and on the Consumers Health Forum governance committee. She is also a former editor of Positive Living and the National AIDS Bulletin. Kirsty’s principal interests at NAPWA included the ethics of clinical research, facilitating treatments access, and advocating for the reproductive rights of women and men living with HIV. She has contributed to a professional monograph on the human rights and policy dimensions of this topic.

Kirsty was the first female Chair of VAC (now Thorne Harbour Health) during 2012.

Kirsty has recently worked in the role of National Policy Manager for Optometry Australia, an organisation providing professional services support for optometrists and promoting primary eye care services, and was the interim CEO of that organisation for six months during 2017. She has also been working as a consultant, leading a strategic planning process in the HIV sector, and undertaking projects to support resilience and mental health in people living with HIV, and to provide information for women and families affected by perinatal depression and anxiety.

Kirsty holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Communications, a Master of Arts in Writing, and a doctorate in the History and Philosophy of Science. She has also undertaken study in European history and in biomedical ethics. Kirsty’s PhD research was a history of the social, cultural and philosophical influence of Darwin’s theory of evolutionary common ancestry. She has presented her original research in this area, and is continuing to work on an independent publishing project in the field.

The PWV Board thanks Heather Mugwagwa, who has been acting in the role of Executive Officer since March, and who hands the organisation over in good shape. With Kirsten's leadership, along with the dedicated staff, volunteers and Board, Positive Women Victoria enters a new era of its development in providing ongoing support for its members and in raising awareness and prevention of HIV and breaking down HIV stigma.

Heather Magawgwa, Peer Engagement & Research Coordinator

Heather Magawgwa worked in community health on various health promotion projects before joining PWV where she is currently the Peer Engagement & Research Coordinator. Her role involves providing and facilitating tailored peer support for women living with HIV. She also coordinates Volunteer Peer Support Training Programs, outreach group support and facilitated Phoenix workshops for women (in partnership with LPV). Heather’s role also involves engaging with women living with HIV from marginalised communities and diverse backgrounds to inform the strategic planning and research programs for PWV. She holds tertiary education from overseas, Melbourne and Monash University.

Melissa Iddles, Peer Support Worker

Melissa has been a member of Positive Women since 2005 and joined the team of staff in April 2017. Prior to this Melissa spent nine years supporting and advocating for people with disabilities, though quality assurance processes. Many of the same values apply to supporting diverse women with HIV: dignity, privacy and confidentiality, individual needs, fair access to services, self-determination, community engagement, human rights and freedom from abuse. Melissa has a Bachelor of Arts from Deakin University and a Certificate in Community Cultural Development from Swinburne. Melissa’s recent Certificate of Education Support and volunteer work in primary schools was focused on children with diverse needs and their families. Melissa’s normal hours are 9am to 5pm on Thursdays and Fridays. She can be reached on peersupport2@positivewomen.org.au or by calling 03 9683 8747.