HEPSpeaker, Community Advocate, Mark Farmer Memorial Award 2013
“I am a Hep Hero because we need to debunk the myths so people can make informed decisions about their hepatitis options”
I have been a community advocate and volunteer for many years in the Maribrynong region, supporting people who use drugs and who are undertaking hepatitis C treatment.
I have been involved with Hepatitis Victoria as a volunteer, in particular in the Hep Connect program. Hep Connect is a service for people living with hepatitis C, their partners, family and/or carers to talk to someone who has real life experience in dealing with the complexities of diagnosis, treatment and post treatment issues. It is services like these that can help people make the decisions that are right for them and talk about it with people who have been on the journey.
I also participate in hepatitis C workshops as part of the Health Works service and encourage other community members to get involved. I am passionate about advocating for services and generating enthusiasm for social inclusion amongst community members.
As part of my own journey, I participated in behavior change groups, particularly Health Works CHOICES program, which is a 8 week chronic disease self management program for people who use drugs.
I took on a strong self-management approach and now I pride myself on being a role model for other participants. I am a public speaker and share my story with others in the hope that it will help people understand some of the issues people with hepatitis face.
Through my hepatitis C journey I learnt a lot about stigma and discrimination. It prevented me from seeking information and the support I needed sooner. This is why I am a hep hero and why you should be. By talking about hepatitis we can all debunk the myths and help people get the information they need to make informed decisions.