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The Champion Community: Issue 73

This issue:

  1. Kooloora Family Fun Day for Aboriginal communities around Malabar
  2. Volunteer appreciation at Hepatitis NSW
  3. Major milestone for Tx! MAG
  4. Hep B health education event at Ashfield Town Hall
  5. Student placement at Hepatitis NSW helps with hep B education

The Champion - #73 June 2019

Kooloora Family Fun Day for Aboriginal communities around MalabarKooloora Family Fun Day

Hepatitis NSW recently held a hugely successful three-hour community event at Kooloora Community Centre with over 100 people attending. The Family Fun Day, held on Saturday May 11, was made possible with funding from Central and Eastern Sydney PHN provided to deliver a hepatitis C Aboriginal focused event within the South East Sydney Local Health District (LHD).

The Kooloora Community Centre, in Bilga Crescent at Malabar, was chosen as it is situated within a large public housing estate, with many Aboriginal people and families residing in, or nearby.

To organise and plan the event, Hepatitis NSW met with local Aboriginal Sexual Health Workers, and the Kooloora Community Centre Coordinator. Invitations were sent to local services and the Aboriginal Land Council to attend and promote their services, with several taking up the offer. Event partners included: Go4Fun, Randwick Council, Hearing Australia, NDIS St Vincent’s De Paul, Woodturners and South East Sydney LHD. Positive relationships with both service providers, and Kooloora Centre have resulted in positive inroads to future collaborations.

The event commenced with a Welcome to Country, delivered by local Aboriginal woman Maxine Ryan.

After Welcome to Country, Hepatitis NSW’s Aboriginal Project Officer – Kerry Walker – highlighted the over-representation of Aboriginal people with hepatitis C and hepatitis B; followed by promotion of hepatitis C testing and new treatments, and hepatitis B testing, vaccination, and monitoring.

For those who stopped by our information table, a hepatitis resource bag, with a surprise gift, was on offer.

A jumping castle and face painters were on hand to entertain the children, whilst adults networked with service providers, and tried their luck on the South East Sydney LHD Hep C Chocolate Wheel to win a prize. Everyone enjoyed the day, along with the music and a barbecue lunch.

Volunteer Appreciation Week at Hepatitis NSW

Volunteer Appreciation Week at HNSW

National Volunteer Week 2019 ran from 20-26 May and Hepatitis NSW, which has a strong volunteer base, held a special event to show our appreciation for the many people who freely give their time and expertise towards helping us. Since we keep detailed records, we know that volunteers contributed over 3,800 hours this last year to Hepatitis NSW, the equivalent of two full time positions. Simply put, we would struggle to provide our high level of service to the community without the generous input of our many wonderful volunteers.

The appreciation day was attended by a good number of volunteers and hosted by Hepatitis NSW’s Board’s Volunteer Representative Satyajit Patra. There were opportunities for the volunteers to meet and socialise and to win prizes (the Chocolate Wheel was a definite highlight), and importantly to learn more about the beneficial impact that all their work does for the community. From assisting with mail-outs of Tx! MAG, to compiling Hep Info Packs for people in prisons, to assisting with community events, serving on our Board of Governance, collating survey feedback, compiling contact data and other documents – our volunteers are greatly appreciated.  

Major milestone for Tx! MAG

Transmission Magazine #2

June 2019 marks a significant anniversary for Tx! MAG, our easy-read viral hep periodical. Although its first edition was published in January 2008, it was not until some 18 months later that the resource gained a name – Transmission Magazine – and a regular publication schedule. Edition #2 came out in June 2009.

In those days, before the arrival of direct acting antivirals and an effective cure for hepatitis C, the focus of Transmission Magazine was on prevention. Stopping the transmission of the virus was, and remains, essential to curtailing hep C within numerous at-risk communities – especially young people, Aboriginal people, people in prison and people who inject drugs.

The two stories in edition #2 picked up the thread from the first edition. One looked at Deb, a young pregnant woman, and her boyfriend Wayne, who was in prison and living with hep C. The second story told about Dave and Eddie who each have very different experiences (good and bad respectively) of being tested for, and learning about, hepatitis C.

Comics, when developed properly, have been shown to be effective platforms for delivering complex and challenging information in a relatable, non-judgmental, and easily understood format. During its time focused on prevention, editions of Transmission Magazine were developed using a process known as Drawing Them In, which extensively used community and stakeholder consultation.

Over the last ten years, there have been a further 29 editions, making 31 in total (the most recent being published in May this year, with #32 due very soon). In that time, stories told in those comics have covered a variety of topics relating to hep C with many diverse characters.

In 2016, with the arrival of highly effective hep C treatments, the focus of the magazine changed from prevention to encouraging people to get cured. Also, for the first time ever, stories about hepatitis B testing and treatment were included. For that reason, Transmission Magazine changed its name to Tx! MAG (“tx” is shorthand for “treatment”), which brings us up to its modern incarnation.

Tx! MAG is free to subscribe to for individuals and organisations in NSW.

Hep B health education event at Ashfield Town Hall

Hep B health education event at Ashfield Town Hall

To raise awareness of hepatitis B – transmission, prevention, vaccination, and treatment – among Chinese born Australians, Hepatitis NSW held a health education and health promotion event in early May for Chinese seniors at Ashfield Town Hall, in Inner Western Sydney.

The event was put on in partnership with the Chinese Australian Services Society (CASS), and other organisations including Diabetes NSW & ACT, Vision Australia and CanRevive. The event was also supported by Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS) and was funded by Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network (CESPHN).

It is estimated that approximately 230,000 people are living with chronic hepatitis B in Australia. Most of those people were born overseas, the majority born in China (17.8%) with only 62% of people living with chronic hep B having been diagnosed.

Hepatitis NSW CEO Stuart Loveday opened proceedings with Acknowledgement of Country, and then welcoming all senior members of the Australian-Chinese community and paying respect to their culture and traditions.

The event proved to be very popular, attracting over 200 seniors from the local Chinese community who benefitted from the education and resources distributed on the day. Dr Jo Chen and Hepatitis NSW bilingual Project Officer Cristina Lu delivered the hepatitis B education session.

The education session was very well received. Based on questions from the audience, some of the myths surrounding hepatitis B were dispelled with people feeling more confident about taking action to either test or go for regular liver health monitoring.

Performances included traditional Chinese dancing groups, Tai Chi and more. The audience could also actively participate in the activities.

Whilst attendees were enjoying the entertainment, Dr Guang Chen conducted fibroscan tests. A total of 30 people were tested over a short period of time. Hepatology nurses from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital helped and engaged with other people interested in receiving a fibroscan by providing additional health information.

This event provided another great opportunity for Hepatitis NSW to reach out to the Chinese community with important health information.

Student placement at Hepatitis NSW helps with hep B education

Student placement at HNSW helps with hep B education

Susie Kim, a student in Health Education at Western Sydney University, has been a recent placement at Hepatitis NSW.

Susie worked with our two program coordinators, Cristina Lu and Mina Kim, who promote hepatitis B health information to Chinese and Korean communities across Sydney. She assisted at numerous education sessions, family fun days and health expos which promoted testing and prevention of the virus. She says she found it excellent to see people wanting to know more about their liver health and the virus.

Having been with us for two months, her placement finished at the end of May. Susie says that being at Hepatitis NSW opened her eyes to how hepatitis B is underestimated in Australia, and that more work must be done to improve awareness of the virus.

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