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Ben Carroll MP

State Member for Niddrie, Parliamentary Secretary for Justice

"I am a Hep Hero because as a community leader, I have a vital role to play to raise awareness, combat stigma, and address this important public health issue.”

Growing up in Airport West, I worked at the local Kmart to put myself through university, where I studied a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Politics at La Trobe, and then completed my Bachelor of Laws (LLB).

After completing my LLB, I volunteered for the North Melbourne Legal Service for a number of years, where I was able to assist people in need with their civil and criminal law issues. Prior to entering the Parliament I also worked as a lawyer in the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office and as an adviser to former Premier Steve Bracks.

As the Parliamentary Secretary for Justice, I have spent a lot of time visiting prisons and custodial facilities and was shocked to learn about the rates of hepatitis infection amongst inmates.

In the general community, rates of hepatitis B & C are around one to two per cent. In contrast, the Kirby Institute’s 2013 survey of prison entrants found that 25 per cent of prison entrants in Victoria had hepatitis C and 15 per cent had hepatitis B.

In April 2015 I was proud to announce funding of up to $2.2 million to implement the Statewide Hepatitis Service for Victorian prisoners.

From my perspective as a local member, I came into contact with residents like Stephen, a HepHero who I met in 2014, and others who are raising awareness about testing, treatment and support. I am committed to working within the Victorian government to develop a Victorian strategy to deal with viral hepatitis.

An incredible 120,000 Victorians live with viral hepatitis. Liver cancer is the fastest growing cause of cancer death in Australia, and it is largely caused by viral hepatitis. We all have a vital role to play to raise awareness, combat stigma and address this growing public health issue.

Ben's message to others

The Victorian Government is a signatory to the national strategy for blood-borne viruses, so it essential that we follow this up with the development of a stand alone action plan if we are truly to begin to address the prevalence of hepatitis in Victoria.