Coffee with…Kate Jeffery, Link Health & Community


Describe your role as Senior Strategy, Research and Inclusion Officer at Link HC?

Strategy, research and inclusion is quite wide-ranging as a portfolio. Strategy can include: service planning; developing strategy plans for improving cultural competency; responding to diversity; identifying opportunities to work with partner organisations; helping to develop initiatives designed to meet gaps in our services; and looking for funding opportunities and submission writing – obviously in collaboration with my colleagues at Link HC.
My research role involves: undertaking research into community needs drawing on the evidence-base; monitoring the latest research on social, health and wellbeing issues; disseminating information about the latest best practice initiatives; and supporting the work of my colleagues across the organisation.
I am actively involved in networking with agencies and communities, again with a primary focus on understanding community needs, relationship building, and looking at ways we can improve our responsiveness to the diverse communities in the east and south east of Melbourne. For example, the Monash Multicultural Settlement Services Network convened by Monash Council draws together agencies from Monash and surrounding suburbs that work with people of migrant and refugee background.

What sort of work were you doing prior to starting at Link HC?

I had previously worked with Merri Community Health Services (now Merri Health) in Melbourne’s north. As well as working in a support role across a wide range of programs, I was Merri’s project officer for East Timor, overseeing the health projects Merri was supporting in the District of Aileu, in partnership with Moreland and Hume councils. I continue to have a strong interest and connections to Timor-Leste, although it is some years since I last visited there.

What excites and motivates you in your role?

The opportunities to connect with and support local communities. I work with some very dedicated and creative people at Link HC in the community engagement and strategic planning areas. I particularly like finding ways to make a positive difference to people’s lives through the work we do with communities. I worked closely with Mohammad Daud Karimi, an Afghan doctor (now at HealthWest PCP) on a Link HC Afghan community health project which was interesting and rewarding. We are currently following up on the recommendation of that study and continuing to work with the Afghan community.

What strengths do you see in the Community that Link works with?

The rich cultural diversity in our local communities. People’s resilience and determination to make good lives for themselves and their families. The commitment of the people we work with in community groups, agencies, local councils etc.

What’s the first thing you do when you sit down at your desk in the morning?

Switch on my computer, wait for it to slowly load up, then get a caffeine hit! But greet my colleagues too!

If you could change one thing about the world right now, what would it be?

Close the detention camps in Nauru and Manus Island and bring these people to Australia. Also make sure that asylum seekers living in our suburbs are treated with respect and dignity and are properly supported. That’s more than one thing……. But they are all related.

If you weren’t working at Link right now, what would you be doing?

Travelling…. Barcelona sounds good. But I need an income so I would be working in community health elsewhere.

We acknowledge the Wurundjeri people and other peoples of the Kulin nation as the traditional owners of the land on which our work in the community takes place. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.