It’s hard not to feel optimistic and elated with the local number of people impacted by the Covid19 virus falling so significantly, and pandemic restrictions easing. From a public health perspective Victorians have collectively done an awesome job cooperating with the science and messaging, and I acknowledge the incredible workload of our colleagues in state government, particularly DHHS, local government and partner organisations who have contributed to looking after our community in their respective and vital ways. I also recognise the extensive internal work that has been done to pivot service models to support those most impacted and who will continue to need support for some time.
I’m looking forward to getting out and supporting our local businesses and re-connecting again in person.
Inner East Integrated Health Promotion Partnership
As backbone organisation supporting the Inner East Integrated Health Promotion partnership, we have been active in supporting partners to develop a new action plan for the coming year that will continue to focus on increasing social inclusion; prevention of men’s violence against women/gender equity; and alcohol harm minimisation – issues that have particularly heightened in the community during the past six months of Covid19.
Interim evaluation of TFER
I would also like to draw your attention to the interim (2017-2019) evaluation for the Together for Equality and Respect (TFER) strategy 2017 – 2021, that the IEPCP are very proud to have played a key role in compiling in partnership with Women’s Health East (WHE). The TFER Partnership is a highly successful collaboration of organisations undertaking collective impact across shared goals and measures in our region, led by WHE as the backbone. A key finding is that TFER partners are successfully directing their efforts towards the components of systems change to promote gender equity and reduce violence against women in the Eastern Metropolitan Region, and a critical enabler has been the building of “TFER Capital”. I particularly loved this concept, highlighting the commitment and investment of partners. For more about this and the results please browse the WHE website.
Successful forum on community connectors
In addressing another core IEPCP priority – building capability in community engagement, I was proud to be able to sponsor the very successful “Join the Dots: Strengthening connection with community and building networks” forum. The IEPCP team did an amazing job to support the Eastern Metropolitan Region Community Engagement Interest Group in collaboration with community representatives, to promote good practice to strengthen inclusion of multicultural communities, who are often among the ‘hardly reached’. Originally planned as a face to face event, the online forum attracted more than 100 participants to hear from keynote speaker Dr. Carolyn Wallace, who presented her research on the important role community connectors play in improving access to services, and she shared a practice framework for use by agencies. It was my great pleasure to introduce Mr Bwe Thay, Deputy Chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission, who formally opened the forum. Bwe is also a highly respected local community leader in the region. Mr Andrew Gai, community leader in the South Sudanese Australian community, and co-founder of the South Sudanese-Australian Academic Society Inc. was our excellent and passionate MC.
Highlights included contributions from six active community connectors relating their own experiences and engagement insights. Three of the community connectors were graduates of the award-winning Opening Doors program of our partner Link Health and Community. It was heartening to receive such outstanding feedback:
- “This was a truly collaborative, co-design event and everyone kept the spirit of Community Connectors and connecting front-and-centre.” (Community Engagement Interest Group Member)
- “I think the pandemic has highlighted the importance of connecting with diverse communities to minimise negative outcomes.” (Jaya Manchikanti, President and co-founder, IndianCare).
- “It was an honour to be part of a valuable IEPCP project that will benefit the Community… enjoyed the company of my fellow Community Connectors, we are a bunch of thinkers, ideas-action people, doers, with zest for what life has to offer. Community Connecting is close to my heart and I hope our sharing has lead us all to be more caring and compassionate” (Dilnaz Billimoria, Board Member of Women’s Health East, Committee Member of the Communities Council On Ethnic Issues, and Migrant Settlement Committee, among many other community roles)
Think tank on healthy eating, food security and obesity prevention
On another topic I was also excited to be a part of a think tank led by DHHS population health representatives, exploring regional action to date on healthy eating, food security, and obesity prevention, and the potential for future opportunities to collaborate, build capability, and support effective interventions to improve our community’s health in this space, including considering the links to climate change and food.
Climate change guidance for local government
In other activities, it was terrific to attend an informative webinar “Climate Change and Health guidance for local government” delivered by the Environmental Health Unit of DHHS. This built really well on the workshop the IEPCP held in July for local governments’ in the region, where there was much interest and recognition of the broad impacts on health, and support for mitigation and adaptation.