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Media Release: South African National Parks on the launch of the "Know Your Status" campaign

Date: 1st December 2005

South African National Parks today (1 December 2005) announced the launch of the organisation’s "Know Your Status" campaign during a function held at the SANParks headquarters in Pretoria.

South African National Parks today (1 December 2005) announced the launch of the organisation’s "Know Your Status" campaign during a function held at the SANParks headquarters in Pretoria.

Through the campaign, to be conducted in all 20 national parks under SANParks’ jurisdiction, the premier conservation agency hopes to encourage all 3 000 staff members to undergo voluntary HIV counselling and testing. The launch of the campaign coincided with this year's commemorations of the World Aids Day, held under the theme "Stop Aids – Keep The Promise".

During the event, SANParks Chief Executive Dr David Mabunda led members of the organisation’s executive management team present in a VCT exercise, paving way for personnel wishing to follow suit. Various speakers including people living with HIV & AIDS addressed the audience of SANParks staffers.

In his speech during the proceedings, Dr Mabunda said SANParks was fully behind government and business initiatives in the fight against HIV & AIDS in South Africa.

"Most of our staff members are drawn from communities adjacent to parks. Invariably, if communities are affected by the scourge of HIV & AIDS, we are also affected. We have recently launched comprehensive Employee Assistance Programmes within the organisation. These programmes have been set up specifically to look at the welfare of all our employees in a holistic manner".

"Encouraging staff to undergo voluntary counselling and testing will enable the organisation to better respond to the needs of our employees in this regard", said Mabunda.

He added that while HIV & AIDS was as much an integral part of SANParks' Employee Assistance Programmes, the organisation felt that the pandemic had to have its own distinct policy positioning within SANParks because of its gravity and the fact that the parastatal was required by law to set up programmes aimed specifically at addressing this challenge.

"As management we will offer whatever material, emotional and intellectual support that our employees need. As a result, I would like to encourage all staff members to come forward and volunteer for counselling and testing."
 
"May I hasten to add that this exercise will go a long way towards demonstrating our commitment to employee well-being and emphasising that SANParks is a caring organisation", said Mabunda adding that all the counselling and testing will be done with complete confidentiality and that an outside service provider had been secured to oversee the process.

Meanwhile, SANParks announced that the organisation recently obtained a grant to the tune of 450 000 Euros from the Italian Corporation towards HIV & AIDS programmes for the Mpumalanga part of the Kruger. The funds will be spent in various programmes over the next three years.

Dr Mabunda expressed gratitude to the Italian Corporation and said the grant represented a giant leap forward for private/public partnership initiatives. "For us, the 'Do Nothing' option is no longer an option. To this end, we have just approved an HIV & AIDS policy and we are going to vigorously pursue its recommendations."

---Ends

Issued by:
Lulama Luti: Manager: Media & PR
South African National Parks
Tel: 012 426 5203 or 082 905 4645

Enquiries:
Wanda Mkutshulwa: Head Communications
South African National Parks
Tel: 012 426 5201 or 082 908 2692

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