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The Champion #78 – November 2019

This issue:

  1. Welcome from Steven Drew, Hepatitis NSW CEO
  2. Koori Knockout & 414 Closing The Gap!
  3. Albury Hep C Elimination campaign
  4. HARP Forum 2019 Let’s Stick Together Poster award
  5. Hep C campaign collaboration = success!

The Champion #78 - November 2019

Welcome from Steven Drew, Hepatitis NSW CEO

It has now been a month since I took up the role of Chief Executive Officer at Hepatitis NSW, and what a month it has been! These last four weeks have been a whirlwind of briefings, meetings, introductions, and vast amounts of learning. Hepatitis NSW staff, and the many community and sector members I have met to date have warmly welcomed me, which I greatly appreciate.

While it was always going to be a challenge, to step in to lead a community organisation as highly effective and successful as Hepatitis NSW, I am determined to carry on the great legacy that has been created by the original founders, staff, and community. I am confident, given the passion, drive and commitment of the Hepatitis NSW Board and staff, we will continue to be successful.

I will be drawing on my many years of knowledge and experience of government, bureaucracy, and not-for-profit member sectors to advocate for programs and resources that will achieve the elimination of both hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Great progress has already been made in the testing, treatment, and cure of hepatitis C since 2016. However, as we all know, if the goal of elimination is to be achieved, there is still much work to be done to reach, and engage with, the so-called “missing majority” who are living with undiagnosed hepatitis C.

There is also an increasingly urgent need to more vocally advocate for enhanced and sustained action to reduce viral hepatitis infections in NSW, and to improve the health outcomes of people living with hepatitis B in NSW.

Finally, I would like to add my voice to the many others thanking my predecessor – Stuart Loveday – for his sustained effort and great achievements as leader of Hepatitis NSW over more than 20 years. I have had benefit from his knowledge, wit, and wisdom over the last month. I am truly grateful and, along with everyone else, wish him a great retirement.

Hepatitis NSW AGM | Audrey Lamb Forum | Cheryl Burman Award

Koori Knockout & 414 Closing The Gap!

414 Closing The Gap team at the49th NSW Aboriginal Rugby League “Knockout”

The 49th NSW Aboriginal Rugby League “Knockout”, was held in the Central Coast at Tuggerah over the October long weekend. Also referred to as “The Koori Knockout”, it is the largest Aboriginal sporting event in Australia and showcases some of the best Indigenous Rugby League talent in the country. This year it reportedly attracted over 30,000 people to the region.

As part of the 414 Close the Gap partnership, Hepatitis NSW collaborated with ACON (Hunter), and SWOP, in staffing a stall at the Knockout. The 2019 Knockout represented another wonderful opportunity to come together to provide education around harm reduction, prevention and management of blood-borne viruses and sexually transmitted infections.

The event was hugely successful in providing an opportunity for meeting many Aboriginal Community Gatekeepers (Elders), and networking opportunities with many regional Aboriginal Health, Drug & Alcohol, and Youth Workers. Hundreds of yarns about viral hepatitis were had with attendees from all over NSW. While condoms proved to be the most popular resources distributed, we also gave out a variety of Hepatitis NSW resources including Yarnin‘.

Albury Hep C Elimination campaign

Albury Hep C Elimination campaign

Over November 2019, Hepatitis NSW is running an advertising campaign in Albury NSW, with some social media cross-over into Wodonga Victoria. This campaign is designed for people living with hep C – largely those over 50 years old who no longer inject, or who never injected – to help raise awareness and mobilise them into hep C treatment and cure.

The campaign will comprise: beer-mats in local pubs and clubs (already rolled out… see pic!); adverts in shopping centres; adverts and take-away cards in public bathrooms; local social media posts; posters and awareness raising activities in public health services including Aboriginal Health Services, NSPs, drug health services, GP clinics, community health clinics and the like.

We chose Albury because a couple of years ago Hepatitis Australia (our national peak organisation) carried out a similar campaign. We want to build on that; and, because Albury is in the federal seat of Farrer, which is held by The Hon. Sussan Ley.

As we know, direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) were listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) on 1 March 2016, changing the hepatitis C treatment landscape forever.  The Commonwealth fully funded these groundbreaking new treatments, with equal treatment access for all people. There were no restrictions at all, and we have Sussan Ley, who was at that time the Health Minister, to thank.

Since that time, around 70,000 people of the then estimated 230,000 people who were living with chronic HCV across Australia have accessed the new treatments. Tens of thousands of lives have been saved and livelihoods improved to the greater benefit of our communities.

Hep C Elimination Forum
Hepatitis NSW has invited Sussan Ley to present at a forum on 18 November 2019 at the Atura Hotel in Albury. The main purpose of this forum is to generate free media awareness that adds to the paid part of the advertising campaign. The secondary purpose is to thank Sussan Ley publicly for her significant role in enabling the elimination of hepatitis C in Australia by the year 2030.

We are running this Albury campaign with full support from colleagues in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District (LHD) and in Albury Wodonga Health.

HARP Forum 2019 Let’s Stick Together Poster award


The 2019 HARP Forum held in Camperdown last month gave staff from NSW Local Health Districts and related community health NGOs an opportunity to discuss and share information on trends around education and treatment for hepatitis C, HIV, STIs and hepatitis B. (HARP stands for HIV and Related Programs.)

Hepatitis NSW contributed five posters to the Forum, covering some of the many projects and services we are currently working on and providing. We were invited to present to the Forum on our Let’s Stick Together to Close the Gap poster – Kerry Walker, Aboriginal Project Officer and Sandy Davidson, Programs Manager at Hepatitis NSW co-presented.

This poster highlighted some of the achievements made since the Close the Gap 414 Working Group was established in March 2018. Especially the activities associated with 2018 Rugby League Knockout in Dubbo, where Hepatitis NSW, ACON and SWOP came together to deliver a range of health promotion and health education programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in the region. The poster was also runner up for the People’s Choice Award!

Here are all the Hepatitis NSW posters displayed at HARP Forum 2019 (click to download):

Hep C campaign collaboration = success!

Hep C campaign collaboration = your success

The upcoming 2019-2020 NSW Hep C Communication Strategy will aim to assist communities of people who inject drugs by promoting the new hep C cures.

The campaign will utilise staff-client interactions, client peer promotion and client word of mouth – especially at NSP outlets, NSP chemists and Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) clinics.

At this stage in the planning process we are after your suggestions as to how the campaign could be rolled out in your service or practice? Whether you are staff or a community member we would really like to hear from you.

The best treatment pathway is the most local treatment pathway. We are relying on services to ensure all their front line staff are aware of local DAA treating doctors and clinics (that is, “IDU-friendly” doctors or clinics) that would be suitable for their clients.

To provide feedback, please contact:

Vanessa Pollett
email: [email protected]
phone: 02 8217 7729

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