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Thorne Harbour Volunteers Remember Ayman Barbaresco

“Five years ago, he proudly strode into my world….Wooden gavel in hand, Ayman approached the lectern, and commenced the meeting with such authority and conviction. I froze still in response.”

Sam Wiley’s memory of the late Ayman Barbaresco will resonate with many in Melbourne’s LGBTIQ community following his passing over the weekend. Ayman was a highly active and visible member of the community who regularly spoke publically about sexuality, disability, and intersectionality.

Ayman was a longstanding volunteer of Thorne Harbour Health as well as several other community organisations. He first came to Thorne Harbour through the Peer Education program. After participating in Young and Gay (recently renamed Kinetic), Ayman volunteered his time as a peer facilitator. He went on to do a student placement with the Positive Living Centre’s Community Support Program and HIV Services. Throughout the year, you could find Ayman volunteering at various community events including our annual Northside Bizarre.

Ayman Northside Bizarre

Ayman Barbaresco (third from the left) with group during Northside Bizarre 2020. Photo by: Dean Arcuri

Edward Pascoe remembers Ayman's commitment to supporting the community and those around him.

“Ayman was always a source of support – in the community and just in life in general. He was huge supporter of my micro business when I was just getting started – a beautiful person taken too soon. A huge void will be left in our community.”

Ayman has been remembered for his dedication to intersectionality and encouraging networking amongst community members.

“Articulate, committed, considerate, determined, discerning, driven, sensitive, sentimental, strong, thoughtful, and workaholic – these attributes are truly Ayman. But most of all, he was a person who opened doors for others and lifted people up when they needed it,” added Sam Wiley.

“He suggested I study Community Services, and I am now about to graduate. He suggested I contact Thorne Harbour for work opportunities, and I ended up volunteering and doing placement as a result. My life has been forever changed by Ayman. No doubt, many others have been too.”

Ayman Yes Campaign

Ayman Barbaresco outside the Peter Knight Centre during the YES campaign for marriage equality.

Adam Davies agreed saying, “It was Ayman who made me aware of Thorne Harbour Health, ultimately giving me the strength and confidence to overcome decades of internalised phobia and shame.”

“Without Ayman’s incredible support, deep hugs and unparalleled friendship, I would not be the proud, confident and fearless person I am today. His broad legacy speaks volumes for his similar impact on many thousands of people. He was loving, generous and selfless to his very core, and I’m deeply honoured to have been his friend.”

In the 2014-2015 Annual Report On Message (pictured at the start of the article), Ayman is quoted as saying, "I want to support those who need it, I didn't have that kind of support where I came from. Seeing the lives I interact with change and improve - that keeps me volunteering."

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