How interns and volunteers make a real-world difference
5 December 2018
"It's great to look back and feel like you have made a meaningful contribution to public health before having entered the workforce..." so says Robbie-Lee Stephen an outstanding intern at Hepatitis Victoria, assigned through the 2018 Professional Practice Unit (PPU) program for Master of Public Health postgraduate students at the University of Melbourne.
Her intern project, led by Hepatitis Victoria Community Engagement and Education Project Manager Aurora Tang and assisted by another Master of Social Work (of University of Melbourne) intern Wen Wen and multiple Chinese project volunteers, is a new Chinese-speaking community initiative in Victoria, the Chinese Health Promotion Coalition launched on 23 September at Melbourne Town Hall.
In a Hepatitis Victoria podcast, Robbie talks her very positive experience as an intern and recommends other students follow in her footsteps. She describes her role in the project and its key priorities with the overall goal being the elimination of viral hepatitis B and related liver cancer within the Victorian Chinese community.
“Compared with the Australian-born community, the Chinese community in Victoria is 10 times more likely to have chronic hepatitis B and consequently 6 times more likely to develop preventable liver cancer so it is an extremely serious situation that needs to be challenged,” Robbie says.
“The community coalition literature is quite a new field… we are using an approach called the San Francisco Hep B Free Alliance model which was implemented there in 2007 to great effect.
“My task has been to examine the San Francisco model, do a comparison with our plans, do a literature review, and search for what could be common success factors.”
Phase one of the project, the formulation phase, brings together core community stakeholders and gets their commitment over the long-term.
“We have brought together 9 organisations and individuals who form the core group and set the strategic direction,” Robbie says.
Together with Aurora and Wen Wen, Robbie has been to help create the processes and procedures, the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the coalition to allow it to grow and evolve into the future.
According to the Doherty Institute’s 2016 Hepatitis B Mapping Project National Report, the majority of people living with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) in Australia were born overseas, with the most common region of origin the Asia-Pacific (41%), and the most common country of birth among these born overseas were China (17%).
The Chinese Health Promotion Coalition, headed by Marion Lau (OAM, JP, and HEP Hero) was the first of its kind in Victoria focused on leading Chinese communities to respond to the urgent public health issue of viral hepatitis B and related liver cancer.
Listen to the podcast and find out more about the Chinese Health Promotion Coalition and read the Victorian Chinese Jade Ribbon Action Statement in English and Chinese.