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Wednesday 08 October 2008

Inside the new Burnett Centre

Posted in: HIV
By Matt Akersten - 8th March 2008

Wayne Otter shows us around his new HQ
There had been heated debate over what was going to happen to the New Zealand AIDS Foundation's HIV support and testing headquarters in Auckland, so it was wonderful to see the relieved look on Burnett Centre manager Wayne Otter's face when we met him in College Hill last week, and heard good news.

"We needed to move, we needed to expand, so I'm thrilled with where we're at now," Otter tells us as we climb the stairs to the new centre. The Burnett Centre has moved around a lot in its twenty-year history, but had been comfortable in its Poynton Terrace location for a decade - until late last year, when the building next to it got knocked down. Dust and construction noise have been constant companions since then - hardly conducive of a caring counselling environment.

The new Burnett Centre is located in the same building as the NZAF's national offices on Hargreaves Street, College Hill - but is still run entirely separately, with a different entrance and no connecting doors. They were laying the carpet when we had our walk through last week. Eight separate, purpose-built and sound-proof counselling rooms have been constructed, along with a reception area, offices for staff, and even an archival room for client notes.

Welcome: This will be the centre's reception area
Otter proudly shows us around the new rooms, comparing the views from each - some of a garden area, some showing rooftops - and we jump over bits of rolled-up carpet as we move about. "We became too big for our old premises," he explains. "More and more people wanted our services, since the rapid HIV tests were introduced. We tested 800 people last year - more than ever before - and there will be many more this year.

"So we wanted to offer as many counselling rooms as possible, but still in a spacious, comfortable, informal and relaxed atmosphere."

The brand new Burnett Centre will be blessed and cleansed in a formal ceremony in the morning on Monday 10 March, then opens for regular service at Midday. The centre will be open each weekday from 8:30am until 4:30pm Monday and Tuesday, 5:30pm Wednesday and Thursday, and 3:30pm Friday. Plans for later in 2008 include more after-hours appointments, however.

Getting tested for HIV, and receiving the results, is now done in only one half-hour appointment. For appointments or further information, contact the new Burnett Centre on their details below.

NZAF Burnett Centre

35 Hargreaves Street, College Hill, Ponsonby, Auckland.

Ph (09) 309 5560, Fax (09) 302 2338

Matt Akersten - 8th March 2008