Sydney Park AIDS Memorial Groves - SPAIDS - had its first planting on 15 May 1994 to remember people who had died from AIDS. At that stage, before drug therapies had improved to the stage where people with HIV can now expect a normal life expectancy, the numbers dying horrible deaths from a dreadful disease were so great that we saw the planting of trees as a step in the healing process of loss and sadness.
Other events commemorating people who had died of AIDS were the Australian Quilt Project and the Candlelight Memorial.
As time passed and SPAIDS continued to grow and become established as an AIDS memorial, we anticipated that, with the establishment of a Reflection Area as the centrepoint of the Groves, memorial services would be able to be held in Sydney Park.
We now find that events on World AIDS Day, 1 December annually, and Candlelight, also an annual event, usually held later in the year but this year to be held on 15 May (the anniversary of SPAIDS origins) are held elsewhere, notably the Sydney Botanic Gardens for World AIDS Day, and now Candlelight, held at a private venue in Oxford Street Darlinghurst.
We are at a loss to understand how these organisations organising such commemorative events fail to understand the historic and educational relationship to the SPAIDS project. Sydney Park is used by hundreds of people weekly, and the Park is in a sufficiently accessible area by public transport or by car so that there is no difficulty in finding the venue, yet they continue to disregard SPAIDS.
This is really their loss as the AIDS Groves continue to become more beautiful every year, and particularly in 2011, after Sydney has experienced record rainfalls.