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Harness Project: The evolution of engagement with SAM in Perth

Harness Project: The evolution of engagement with SAM in Perth



Steve Fragomeni (WA AIDS Council) talks about the development & evaluation of a social networking program for sexually adventurous men. This presentation was given at the AFAO/NAPWA Gay Men's HIV ...

Steve Fragomeni (WA AIDS Council) talks about the development & evaluation of a social networking program for sexually adventurous men. This presentation was given at the AFAO/NAPWA Gay Men's HIV Health Promotion Conference in May 2012.



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  • Intro – DSHPS, main port folio Com Eng/Social Marketing ImplementationDisclaimer – there may be some explicit images contained in this presentation. The group that I deal with requires this level of explicitness.
  • FistClub PerthFirst was a participantThen became an employee and ran the projectSexualised space was problematicBeaufort 565 SOPV closesSad day as there are virtually no other venues in PerthSAM DatabaseSame year ran a database collection at the Pride Fair Day to make a contact listTOOLBOXBoxed resource with lots of information on itLearned a lot from this experience and the next point in time…SAM ForumWorkshops, discussions, information..Some engagement but still not really listening to how to engageHarnessSocial networkingNatural peer interactionsMaking a space for themBut not amongst the general publicHarness @ ConnectionsThis is proving to be a better format
  • WAAC has always seen the need to be inclusive with sexual adventurism even before it was “fashionable”.FistClub PerthMy predecessor recognised the need to interact with the members of this group and created a meeting place for this to happenTook place in a space beneath the Beaufort 565 Sauna once a monthThe proprietor was happy to give this space to the SAM group free of chargeInadequate facilitaties, but you work with what you have…Highly sexualised spacePoint-of-need, peer-based educationBoth the peer-educator and experienced participants managed to do education when necessaryChance to hand out safe sex resourcesAt that stage, the only safe sex hardware were the condom packs. There were plenty of them and they were easily accessible.Peer educator also participant The peer educator was privy to information around private parties and was invited along as both participant and provider of safe sex resources
  • Pro’sIdentified a point of education considered difficult to tackleMet these guys in their own spaceWay of observing to see if there was any chance of onward transmission of HIV/STIProvided a space for guys to meetFew ways the guys could network.The internet sites still fledging, not many had profiles on those that did exist.Identified key informantsIt was a chance for us to identify and get on side key informants of the groupGenerated peer-initiated set of safe protocolsGroup developed safe sex protocols Not handed down from on high form WAAC (i.e. not sharing lubes (come with your own), clear labelling, changing gloves, not sharing toys… )All came from group discussionDistribution of safe sex hardwareA chance to get lots of condoms and water based lube out to the community. Con’sHighly sexualized space therefore boundaries become blurredCompromised role of peer educator Difficult to objectively assist.Group suffered stigma and discrimination by the venue staffGreat deal of stigma from venue staff“thought what we did was disgusting and should not be allowed!”No clear ground rules and cliques formedThis links into the boundary issueExcluded and banned as it interfered with the dynamic of the groupWAAC employee must remain impartial Disempowered the transient players Cliques became stronger,Became less welcoming for new or transient players.RESULT – this model was unsustainable. The sexualised space trivialised any messageThe cliques became to strong and alienated other playersThe venue closed down.Positive = list of key informants, clear understanding that the SAM players wanted to be involved with WAACThe question then was how??
  • WAAC still saw the need to connect and engage But to do it at the sexualized space wasn’t the way.Put on my little thinking cap…What were the challengesWhere could we look for inspiration?Needs analysis only part of the pictureNeeds analysis looks for a deficit = not a fruitful way of approaching the challengeGetting anyone to identify as SAM = challenge coz of stigmaOrganizational concerns about sex-positive position, language need to communicate with groupReflected on how we were perceived by the “good gay” of the communitySAM believe they are well-informedSAM didn’t need anything we peddled.How do we connect? Look to other successful modelsMost successful model = testing facilities Team brainstormed why that was so to do health promotion and education.What can the successful model tell us?Coming to us coz we were offered something they wanted – testing, reassurance of their behaviour and knowledge around how to keep safe and healthy.“Give ‘em something they want!”Talked to the key informantsWhat did they wantLoud and clear CRISCO! resources, hardwareRegular meeting space.
  • We thought about what would be required for guys to be properly resourced for a play night.Crisco, and safety product compatible with Crisco (and that would require some education that , surprisingly a lot of SAM did not have)Nitrile glovesPolyurethane condomsRegular condoms and glovesWater-based lubeAnd the option for injecting equipment – as we were aware of the cross over
  • The next step was to engage with the CORE SAM in their environment without polluting itUsed NEtReachapproach and formed a profile that clearly stated our intention of gathering like-minded guys together with the objective of forming a community.The guys were very supportive of this act and constantly checked in to see if there was any movement on stage three happening in the process.However, it still recognised this group as homogenous, although many of them had profiles in the other less SAM chat rooms, it still did not connect with the transient SAM, it was an unwieldy way of communicating events etc and still made assumptions about the SAM needs that made me feel uncomfortable.
  • The first of the forum was only March 2009, but it has been set as a monthly eventIt is purposefully not a sexual space and the reasons for that were made very transparent on the first night.The parameters and objectives of the group were set on that evening - to network, to bring in new guys in a non-threatening, safe environment, to workshop different practices of sexual adventurism and explore the protocols to keep guys safe, to discuss how WAAC can form a sustainable and mutually beneficially relationship with these guys.
  • We have consistently got 12 to 15 participants turn up, most of them return members with about 2 to 3 newbies each forum.But who are we dealing with here?{CLICK}We are talking to fellas who are into very extreme sexual sports – fisting, electro-stimulation, BDSM, water sportsThey didn’t want to sit around and have tea and scones at WAAC to talk about what they already knew. RESULT – We were still approaching the hard-to-reach group from a health promotion single perspective of “we know what you want” instead of listening to how we could better engage with the group.
  • Back to the drawing board but by this time there had been a number of studies done to help inform us betterPASH, The Seroconversion study and some research briefs Then we heard back from the local hard-to-reach group. They still felt that they were disempowered and homeless in the Perth scene, still driving the community underground and disconnecting the experienced players with the good protocols from those who were dabbling in the SAM experience.Brainstormed with the Project-X team (DSHPS) what our options would be. It was clear that an evening specifically designed for social networking providing an opportunity for the experienced to mix with the inexperienced while also providing an opportunity to do indirect health promotion.Harness is a safe environment for men who are into fetish can network, meet, purchase safer sex hardware a create a sustainable, subcultural community Always and first and foremost, the objective is to reduce the incidence of transmission of HIV/STI/BBV
  • The Social Marketing of this event was paramountIt had to catch the eye of the right target. It had to be interesting, spoke their language, was familiar What we learned was that this approach created a slow but sustainable burn, the movers and shakers endorsed the event and the WOM method worked perfectly to build the numbers
  • We reduced the number of words, repositioned the date so it attached to the event name better, and chose words that were much more descriptive of the eventWe included a direct health promotion line for the first time that has been appreciated by the groupWe maintained the branding and will continue to do so over the next 12 months.
  • Quote from Mark:The move to Connections proved to me that these guys really needed a space in which to feel free to express themselves and feel supported in doing it in an environment that really allows for self expression and as a follow on allows us to do important education work with them.  The feedback that we have received from some of the guys who attended on Friday night has been fantastic already!As this is one of the target groups for HIV and other STI cross infection being able to work with these guys  in a comfortable non-threatening environment is paramount and that is certainly what we now have at the Terrace Bar at Connections.The downstream effectGround swell in men’s events in Perth that hasn’t been see for sometimeFILTH, Man clubConduit to get word out to appropriate community for these eventsCapacity building and collaboration
  • Total cohort in Perth is probably only about 30077 are on the database30 responded to the survey monkey Did we make the right choice to make this event and move it to a Gay venueI think yes…
  • Of note…Timing, frequency and venue choices are appropriateMore comfortable being able to express themselves in a safe space
  • Of note…Socialisation in a relaxed, safe space where they feel supported. Positive health promotion messages naturally impartedHarness is fullfilling it’s objectives
  • EngagementMore and more guys were accessing WAAC and in particular the M ClinicIncreasing the testing rates amongst this hard to reach groupCollectingThere was a growing group of guys who would not normally come into contact with WAAC in any form were now connecting in a safe secure and informed environmentWe started with 15 members on the email database and that has grown to 77Safer ProtocolsThrough point-of-need interactions with the guys at Harness we created an environment that is reinvigorating the safer protocols.
  • You’re not listeningEngage!!Just because we had something to say to the group doesn’t mean that they will engage in itBe creativeTry different and inventive ways to engage (Trial and error is fine!)Be brave and to try new waysBuild it and they will comeWe listened to the group, conducted surveys, collected anecdotal evidence, discussed with movers and shakers, watched what was happening in the community, formed strong community bonds and relationships – build rapportMake something useful to the target group, then make it useful for usTalk the talk, walk the walkI am also a member of this hard-to-reach group and have an intimate knowledge of how they workBy having a member of the group as a health promotion advocate gives great cred to what is being saidInfluence movers and shakers from a position of knowledge.

Harness Project: The evolution of engagement with SAM in Perth Harness Project: The evolution of engagement with SAM in Perth Presentation Transcript

  • + WA AIDS COUNCIL +HARNESS PROJECTThe evolution of engagement with SAM in Perth
  • +TIMELINE ‘06 + WA AIDS COUNCIL Fistclub Perth Sexualised Beaufort 565 closes ‘08 No Venue Creation of SAM Database ‘08 Way to contact TOOLBOX ‘09 HP Resource SAM Forum ‘10 Health Promotion Harness @ Bar138 ‘11 Social space now Harness @ Connections Social GAY space
  • +FISTCLUB PERTH + WA AIDS COUNCIL• Took place in a space beneath one of the SOPVs in Perth• Peer-based education• Chance to hand out safe sex resources• Peer educator also participant.
  • +“Things that make you go...hmmmmm” + WA AIDS COUNCILPro‟s Con‟sPoint of education Boundaries blurredMeeting Space Venue staff attitudeKey informants Cliques formedSafe protocols Disempowered the transient playersSafe sex hardware RESULT – unsustainable.
  • +“Where to from here?” + WA AIDS COUNCILNeeds analysis only part of the pictureSAM believe they are well-informedLook to other successful modelsWhat can the successful model tell us?“GIVE „EM SOMETHING THEY WANT”
  • +We engaged in their space + WA AIDS COUNCIL
  • +Did it suit? + WA AIDS COUNCIL RESULT – some engagement butnot what the group was after.
  • +What did we do? - Process + WA AIDS COUNCIL• Lit search• Local knowledge - listened to group members• Harness was born…• A safe environment for men who are into fetish can network, meet, purchase safer sex hardware a create a sustainable, subcultural community
  • +Harness @ Bar138 + WA AIDS COUNCIL • First poster • Use of titillating imagery • Use of langue of group • Familiar and engaging • What we learned
  • +Change to artwork + WA AIDS COUNCIL • Reduction of wordiness • More descriptive of event • More direct health promotion content • Still maintaining branding
  • +Harness @ Connections + WA AIDS COUNCIL • Move to Gay Venue • Guys happier • Natural peer connections • Reclaiming of space • Positive downstream effects
  • + WA AIDS COUNCIL+Survey findings
  • + WA AIDS COUNCIL+Survey findings
  • + WA AIDS COUNCIL+Survey findings
  • +FINDINGS + WA AIDS COUNCIL• Increase in engagement – M Clinic• Collecting up those who would not normally engage – 15 members in 2008 to 77 member in 2012• Reinvigoration of safer protocols
  • +LESSONS LEARNED + WA AIDS COUNCIL• “You’re not listening!”• Be creative• Go to where your group are• Build it and they will come – email database, eNews, regular chat online, Project-X forum, increase in appropriate sales of hardware resources• Talk the talk, walk the walk
  • +ACKNOWLEGEMENT + WA AIDS COUNCIL• Members of Harness• Mark Reid• Nadine Toussaint• DSHPS colleagues• WAAC• Bar138, Connections Nightclub• Other SAM Project workers