About the project

People Making Change — full name ‘Understanding Social Engagement in Public Health’ — is a research project that seeks to understand how people in emerging movements think and talk about the complex challenge of building a network to influence or transform a system. These systems could be a discourse — such as how we talk about HIV transmission risk — or policy and legislation, such as the interests and forces that block drug the decriminalisation of drugs and drug use.

About the researcher

I’m seeking to consult with the U=U community as a researcher, hoping to learn how this extraordinary movement has managed to achieve great changes for people, communities, health services and research, and policy-making all around the world. This is a movement that embodies the power of the personal voice, so I feel it’s important to introduce myself and where I’m coming from.

I began working in Australia’s community-based response to HIV way back in 2004, aged 23. Since then I’ve worked in prevention and positive health promotion, migrant and refugee health, and social research, all around HIV and other issues like cancer screening. In 2007, I began writing the Bad Blood blog about HIV stigma, focusing in particular on the ways in which stigma shows up in public health practice itself.

At this point in time, I’m HIV-negative. I mention that because I work in the peer-based approach, and I’m careful to avoid speaking from a platform that rightfully belongs to people with HIV. I am personally interested in U=U because it’s a powerful demonstration of positive leadership — not just people with HIV being included or engaged — and because the U=U story offers many insights for people fighting in other movements for social change. This research to aims share lessons from U=U within the global HIV response and with social change movements beyond HIV.

Lastly, I’m not a conventional academic. I continue to work in practice — currently as the learning projects officer at Australia’s peak body for organisations representing people with HIV. I remain an activist, most recently leading a successful campaign to prevent Australia’s drug regulator from banning alkyl nitrites, the main ingredient in ‘poppers.’ So I’m not seeking to extract data and publish my findings in closed journals — I will bring whatever I learn from this project back to the U=U community.

As a human being, I’m calm and soft spoken, although I can be fierce when speaking up for what I believe in. I’m a writer by nature, but writing is really hard, and I’m happiest in my kitchen, cooking and baking. I am neither male nor female — I tell people ‘my gender is Daniel.’ I was raised Catholic and I’m now a practicing Buddhist in the Mahasi tradition. I am a settler in a colonial society founded on stolen land, living on the unceded lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation in so-called Australia. If you would like to know more, you can send me a message right here and I’ll get back to you.

Getting in touch

Please feel free to use the contact form below to e-mail me.