Media Release​

Sydney: 17 February 2017

  • The Lord Mayor of Sydney presents the Kirby Institute with key to the city, recognising 30 years of outstanding work with communities to address the HIV epidemic.
  • The symbolic presentation is the highest honour a city can confer upon an individual or an organisation.


The Lord Mayor of Sydney has today presented the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney with the key to the city, recognising 30 years of outstanding work with communities to address the HIV epidemic.

The key to the city of Sydney was presented by Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore at a civic ceremony following the annual Rainbow Flag raising at Sydney Town Hall, which marks the start of the 2017 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival. The symbolic presentation is the highest honour a city can confer upon an individual or an organisation. Among others, the key to the City of Sydney has been awarded to Nelson Mandela (1990), Dame Joan Sutherland (1991), Aung San Suu Kyi (2003), and John Bell AO (2015).

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the highest honour the city can confer should be reserved for those who have made a truly outstanding contribution. “The Kirby Institute amply fulfils those criteria. Established in 1986, when there was a desperate need to understand the causes and nature of the HIV pandemic, the Kirby Institute became a crucial part of this great international effort. I’ve been impressed to see the Institute continue to apply the lessons and techniques learned in that great fight to other infectious diseases, including hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections.”


It has been three decades since the Kirby Institute was formed by the Australian Government in response to the then emerging and little understood HIV epidemic. Australia’s response to the HIV epidemic has been internationally commended for its partnership approach which saw government, community, clinicians and research bodies working in close collaboration to understand and control the epidemic. Much of this early work was focused around Sydney – with the 1983 Sydney AIDS Prospective Study still heralded as one of the most influential early studies internationally in the response to HIV.

“We are humbled to accept this tremendous honour in recognition of three decades of service to communities affected by HIV,” said Professor David Cooper, Director of the Kirby Institute. “I would like to acknowledge our partners at UNSW and St Vincent’s Hospital, along with other partners in research, clinical medicine, government and the community who bravely stepped forward in the earliest and darkest days of the epidemic in Sydney and Australia, to be a part of the response. These long-standing collaborations have led directly to some of the most important research outcomes for communities affected by HIV. We simply would not be where we are today without them.”


Professor Andrew Grulich from the Kirby Institute accepted the honour on behalf of the Kirby Institute.

“It is a great honour to accept this key to the city on behalf of the Kirby Institute,” said Professor Andrew Grulich. “When I started work in this field of HIV/AIDS in 1995 as a young epidemiologist desperate to help my community, it was a bleak time with very few answers. Today, no-one in Australia needs to die from HIV infection; and with the deployment of PrEP in New South Wales, we are realistically looking towards the virtual elimination of HIV infection in this community. Our successes in this area, and those still to come, are a testament to the strength of our partnerships. Together we have achieved what was once unimaginable.”


For media enquiries

Media contact:  Laurie Legere, The Kirby Institute  |  0413476647  |


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Media Release - The Kirby Institute presented with key to the city on 17 February 2017


About the Kirby Institute

Kirby_Institute.JPGThe Kirby Institute for infection and immunity in society was formed on the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research (NCHECR). Named for former High Court judge Michael Kirby AC (see below), the Kirby Institute now fulfils a much broader role than was first imagined in 1986 when the three National Centres in HIV research were formed in response to the then-emerging and little understood HIV pandemic. NCHECR collaborated extensively in the international effort that ensured that HIV became one of the most intensively studied diseases in the history of medical science. Over time, the skills, techniques and expertise developed in the study of HIV was applied to a range of other infectious diseases, notably viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections. The new name of the Kirby Institute takes in this broader scope and, reflecting Mr Kirby’s lifelong interest in health and human rights, also reflects the diverse and often disadvantaged communities which form the client groups of our study.

Visit the Kirby Institute website