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So, that's what you mean! Communicating health: Frontline stories from working in Aboriginal and/orTorres Strait Islander health. Ms Michelle Dickson
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So, that's what you mean! Communicating health: Frontline stories from working in Aboriginal and/orTorres Strait Islander health. Ms Michelle Dickson


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School of Public Health, University of Sydney. …

School of Public Health, University of Sydney.
Presentation given at "Health Literacy Network: Crossing Disciplines, Bridging Gaps", November 26, 2013. The University of Sydney.

Published in: Health & Medicine, Education

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  • I would like to acknowledge and pay respect to the traditional owners of the land on which we have come together today– (the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation). It is upon their ancestral lands that the University of Sydney is built.
    Today, as we share our own knowledge, teaching, learning, and research practices here at this University may we also pay respect to the knowledge embedded forever within the Aboriginal Custodianship of Country.
    Throughout this presentation I will use the term Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, and the term Koori, to refer to myself and other people located in my state of NSW.
  • I am a Darkingjung/Ngarigo women. While I have lived most of my life in urban Sydney communities, I am from the Central Coast of NSw (Darkinjung lands) and the Cooma/Monaro region (Ngarigo lands). Both sides of my family experienced removals from family and community under government policies, later becoming known as members of the “Stolen Generation”.
  • My communities are located within the black circle on this map of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australia. As you can see there are hundreds of communities represented here on this map- each with its own culture, language/s, political and social structures and ways of living. As a population, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians are rich with diversity.
  • Even within my own Ngarigo community we are constantly reminded of the need to respect this diversity and the challenges it presents us. Even our envrionemtn remidns us of how adaptable we need to be- changing from this to…
  • …this is less than a season.
  • Some faces of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australia remind us of this rich diversity. I thank some of my family for sharing their photos for this slide.
  • I have worked in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health and education sectors for a little over 20 years. My frontline health work has included working with health issues like chronic diseases, focusing on diabetes, low levels of physical activity, poor nutrition, sexual health and alcohol and other drug work. While I have worked with a number of rural and remote communities, most of my work has been as an urban Koori working with urban and regional communities. At the University here I am the course coordinator and lecturer in the Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Health Promotion program, in the Sydney School of Public Health.
    Today I am not here presenting research on health literacy. Rather I am here to share with you some examples of working, and teaching, in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health- some frontline examples of how we try to address health literacy issues as we work together with target groups to empower individuals and communities to make changes to their health.
    A key word that underpins this work, and this presentation, is diversity – there is no one size fits all approach to working in A&TSI health (or at least I have not yet discovered one). Equally the health literacy challenges across A&TSI communities are also diverse and require specific, and targeted work.
  • Taking time to understand the lived experience of health and health issues is a vital part of the work I will share with you.
    Working with health issues must begin with solid collaboration and consultation with your target group- those whose health you are working together to improve.
    A number of health promotion and prevention projects have approached me to help them evaluate their effectiveness. Many of them forgot about the turtle and the hare story- they forget that taking time often pays off- that rushing to the finish line with what YOU think will work rarely does the job.
  • One alcohol health program had spent huge money on developing a suite of resources. They wanted to raise awareness of the concept of a “standard drink”. The had funding to reach populations groups within a certain geographical area. A large number of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities were within this geographical area- in fact it covered some urban communities and extended to include some remote communities too. They had pre tested the resources only in the urban centre, due to time constraints.
    They did not get good results with some of the resources, and wanted to explore why.
  • This is an example of a resource that was developed into a poster format and into a flyer, and the image also appeared on a number of other print based materials.
    I shared another example of communicating a “standard drink” message with this team, and pointed out why it ius important to understand the lived experience of your target group
  • Here is an example of a poster that was really successful- people engaged with it, talked about it, asked questions about alcohol after looking at it.
    It used language and images that the target group related to “middies” “longnecks” “sharing drink”.
    The slab of beer is presented as being only safe if you share it with 9 people or more – this connects to the social and cultural practices connected to drinking in the communities this was designed for.
  • Broome Aboriginal Media Association (BAMA) is an Indigenous owned not-for-profit organisation.
    BAMA wanted to address alcohol misuse among Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth aged 13 to 17 years in the region, via a youth designed and delivered media campaign.
    Goolarri Media engaged youth in formulating culturally appropriate media messages and imagery relating to alcohol misuse.
  • This animation called The Grog Brain Story is part of a broader strategy, utilizing contemporary multimedia strategies to provide relevant and accessible information for Indigenous people with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, about the impact alcohol and other drugs have on the brain and behavior.
    Grog and the Brain was originally developed as a flip chart by Menzies School of Health Research and St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne and funded through the Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation.
    The animation was developed with funding support from the Alcohol Education and Rehabiliation (AER) Foundation and was translated into several A&TSI community languages.
    Here it is in English.
  • And here it is in Walpiri.
  • In many A&TSI communities there are still gaps in internet access, if we define internet access to using the www on a computer or laptop. However, internet is more commonly accessed through mobile phone devices, and this has opened up the world for health promotion in A&TSI, with many people accessing health messages and programs through connections or apps on their phones.
    A&TSI youth were challenged to develop a resource to demystify a sexual health check. In working with this group I discovered that even some of the best sexual health programs, designed with care and taking into account varying levels of health literacy, still were not hitting the mark for this cohort.
    So, the team made a humorous clip about what to expect visiting a sexual health clinic, made by young people who found out for themselves just how easy it is to book in and get checked.
    Zane thinks he needs a Chlamydia check and books in to his local community health clinic in country Victoria.
    What features did the youth think should be included so the health message reached the target group?
    Use of proper lingo “ relating to “wee in a jar”, instead of “pass urine into the bottle”
    See it through the eyes of a worried client to the health service- so we watch this as if we are going through the process ourselves
    Humour – difficult health messages can be understood using a bit of humour
    Make it real – real paperwork, posters on the wall, real people
    Take home messages that stayed in their heads
  • The same A&TSI youth group developed a series of short clips, again to address high levels of STIs in their youth community.
    Again, note the use of familiar language, humour, creativity.
  • Condoman back on Earth! This page will tell you all about him and his message of safe sex aimed at Australia’s Indigenous people.
    Invite your friends today. –clear call to action
    Don’t be shame, be game! –using language that is familiar to A&TSI peoples
    Condoman is a character created through collaboration between the 2 Spirits Project (a Project of Healthy Communities), QAIHC and Queensland Health.
  • Transcript

    • 1. “So, that's what you mean!” Communicating health - frontline stories from working in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health." Michelle Dickson Lecturer School of Public Health Sydney Medical School University of Sydney
    • 2. Darkinjung Central coast, NSW (Gosford, Brisbane Waters)
    • 3. Ngarigo – Cooma Monaro, Snowy Mountains, NSW. Ngarigo
    • 4. Ngarigo – Cooma Monaro, Snowy Mountains, NSW. Ngarigo
    • 5. Health literacy and lived experiences
    • 6. Alcohol
    • 7. One resource-
    • 8. © University of Sydney and Sydney South West Area Health Service
    • 9. Poison party Poison party Broome Aboriginal Media Association (BAMA)
    • 10. Brain Grog story › Brain Grog Story English Menzies School of Health Research
    • 11. Brain Grog story › Brain Grog Story Walpiri
    • 12. Sexual Health › Smart and Deadly Koori drama group – embracing technology to spread the word Sex health check Gateway Community health/ Albury Wodonga schools and community organisations
    • 13. Sexual health › Gammin' but True! Short clips about your bits - an introduction to sexually trasnmitted infections Coordinated by Centre for excellence in rural sexual health
    • 14. Finally… Diversity Creativity Take time Connect with lived experiences Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a superpower! 2 Spirits Project (a Project of Healthy Communities), QAIHC and Queensland Health › condoman
    • 15. Contact Michelle Dickson 9351 1974