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The Champion #121 – December 2023

This issue:

  1. Alexandra Wade wins 2023 Hepatitis NSW Cheryl Burman Award
  2. 2023 Audrey Lamb Community Forum and Annual General Meeting
  3. Honorary Life Memberships awarded at 2023 AGM
  4. EMPOWER at Rev Bill Crews Foundation
  5. National Multicultural Health and Wellbeing Conference 2023

Alexandra Wade wins 2023 Hepatitis NSW Cheryl Burman Award

Alexandra (Alex) Wade, the Clinical Nurse Consultant for the Mid North Coast Liver Clinics across the Northern NSW and Mid North Coast LHDs, is the recipient of Hepatitis NSW’s prestigious 2023 Cheryl Burman Award.

The Cheryl Burman Award acknowledges outstanding work or achievements by an individual or team in NSW within the viral hepatitis sector.

Alex was recognised for her substantial contribution to improving the quality of life of people living with viral hepatitis through her unwavering commitment to affected communities, exceptional healthcare delivery, and pioneering work in improving the wellbeing of marginalised and vulnerable people across both her LHDs.

With an impressive breadth of understanding and experience with all the varied ways in which both hepatitis B and C manifest in regional NSW, Alex spreads that knowledge as far as she can. Alex has worked extensively with many different communities, like farm workers on temporary visas living with hep B, people experiencing homelessness in Coffs Harbour, and alternative communities in northern NSW.

Always looking for ways to support and assist her clients, Alex has been an integral part of a pioneering effort on the Mid North Coast to use work development orders (WDOs) to reduce the debts of marginalised and vulnerable people at risk of, or affected by, hep C. So far, through this innovative approach, Alex’s team has erased more than half a million dollars of debt from the community. This is a truly unbelievable achievement.

Alex has also been a huge advocate of involving people with lived experience in her outreach work and has been a long and steadfast supporter of Hepatitis NSW’s peer programs, involving them in outreach work for years.

In announcing Alex’s win, Hepatitis NSW President Dr Denise Jarratt said, “Alex is not just an incredibly talented nurse and a wonderfully committed hepatitis champion, but someone who has always nurtured and developed the peer workers lucky enough to work alongside her. By any measure, Alex is a very worthy recipient of this prestigious award.”

Previous Cheryl Burman Award recipients >>>CLICK HERE

2023 Audrey Lamb Community Forum and Annual General Meeting

The Hepatitis NSW 2023 Audrey Lamb Community Forum, including the Annual General Meeting, was held on Thursday 30 November.

Audrey Lamb Community Forum

Following a warm Welcome to Country by Savannah Fynn from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, this year’s Audrey Lamb Community Forum presentation featured Professor Jason Grebely (pictured), who is the Head of the Hepatitis C and Drug Use Group in the Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program at the Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney.

Jason’s presentation explored the many developments in the viral hepatitis space, including new and emerging technologies, systems and insights that will shape our responses into the future. In particular, Jason focused his address on advances in hepatitis C testing. The Forum was recorded, and we plan to have a transcript and/or video available in early 2024.

Annual Report and Service Statement

Our Services and Annual Report 2022/23 was launched during the AGM. This report gives a snapshot of our work and its impact, as well as describing the programs and services we provide for people living with or affected by hepatitis C and hepatitis B in NSW.

Read HNSW Services & Annual Report 2022/23 >>> CLICK HERE

Hepatitis NSW Board

Following the 2023 Annual General Meeting, the Hepatitis NSW Board met to elect office bearers for 2024. Denise Jarratt was re-elected President, with Sally-Ann Joseph continuing as Vice President. Satyajit Patra was re-elected Treasurer to continue his very successful stewardship of our organisation’s finances.

The following people will sit on the Hepatitis NSW Board for the next two years:

Honorary Life Memberships awarded at 2023 AGM

Honorary Life Membership is awarded to members in acknowledgement of loyal and outstanding service. This year, Paul Harvey and Dr David Baker were elevated to Honorary Life Member status.

Paul Harvey is a former Hepatitis C Council volunteer and Hepatitis NSW Board member (1993-95), past President of Hepatitis NSW, and long term staff member (1995-2022).

Paul is a strong and passionate advocate for the role of people with lived experience in self-organising and community development. He was responsible for setting up organisational systems and processes for the Hepatitis C Council in its formative stages.

During his time as editor, he developed and enhanced the Hep C Review—a very popular and well regarded periodical—into a full-scale colour magazine. He led the development of many of the organisation’s most popular, well-received and enduring resources, and was also the first manager of the Hepatitis NSW InfoLine.

Paul has been a continuous member of Hepatitis NSW for 30 years.

Dr David Baker is a GP and a Director of East Sydney Doctors. He created a leading hepatitis practice in NSW and formed a peer group of leading hepatitis practitioners. He has a special interest in Hepatitis C, as well as Sexual Health and Addiction Medicine.

David works as a medical adviser to the Australasian Society of HIV Medicine and is a member of many local and national advisory committees in the areas of hepatitis and HIV. David also coordinates a number of hepatitis research projects at East Sydney Doctors, presenting findings locally and internationally.

He is actively involved in improving health care to marginalised groups including homeless people and people who inject drugs.

David has been a continuous member of Hepatitis NSW for at least 10 years.

EMPOWER at the Rev Bill Crews Foundation

On 23 November, the EMPOWER Team proudly launched a new outreach site at the Rev. Bill Crews Foundation at Ashfield in collaboration with Sydney LHD HARP (HIV and Related Programs) Unit.

The EMPOWER project is a peer implemented testing program that includes a 1-minute hep C antibody test with referral for a GeneXpert RNA Point of Care test for those who require it.

Our EMPOWER team, led by Pippa and including our great peers Bindi, Will, Grace and JD have been extensively planning, reviewing and training so that our systems and model of care can be seamlessly transferred to new locations. The peer team – Bindi, Will, Grace and JD – is responsible for all the intake, consent, survey, and enrolment paperwork, as well as delivering antibody testing and results. This approach also allows for valuable one-on-one time for community members to connect and share personal stories, helping to further dismantle the stigma surrounding hep C and break through barriers to receiving testing and treatment.

We had an overwhelmingly positive response to the launch, and thanks to the incredible efforts of the team, we were able to screen and provide care to 31 participants. This is our largest outreach to date, and we extend our congratulations and gratitude to all involved. We look forward to scaling up further and expanding partnerships in 2024.

National Multicultural Health and Wellbeing Conference 2023

In November, Hepatitis NSW team members Mina Kim and Jessica Luo attended the National Multicultural Health and Wellbeing Conference at Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park.

It was the first conference to address the issue of health disparities and lack of access for CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) communities—a need that was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference covered various topics such as addressing language barriers and communication issues for CALD communities, developing health resources for people from refugee backgrounds, including Australia’s ethnic minorities in health research, and better communicating health information in order to improve community engagement with healthcare, such as participating in national cancer screening programs.

“There was a lot of talk about the need for research and policy development to be more sensitive to immigrant populations,” said Mina Kim.

The conference highlighted the need for an intersectional approach to providing access to healthcare across diverse communities. The event also created an opportunity for participants to connect with a wider range of experience and expertise.

“I came away with a new realisation that hepatitis B is much more related to HIV than hepatitis C,” says Mina Kim, “and I wished that I could have shared more experiences and learnt more from the field workers who are actually doing the work.”

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