Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Engaging with communities: building and sustaining community involvement

In this session at the Positive Services Forum, presenters outlined programs and initiatives that target specific communities, and discussed challenges related to community engagement.

Michael Costello (L) and Oliver Maboreke
display the Anwernekenhe Strategic Plan (see
story below).
David Menadue (NAPWA) discussed NAPWA networks, explaining that "community engagement is really what our organisation is all about." He talked about the numerous NAPWA community networks operating across the country that represent different groups of people,  emphasising the importance of diversity and inclusion in community responses to HIV.

He also discussed results from NAPWA's HIV Stigma audit, highlighting findings from the survey on community engagement. Download presentation from Slideshare

Geoff Honnor (ACON) presented his views on a range of topics including treatment as prevention, the UN strategic goals and Australia's involvement. He called on all of us to seize this moment and to turn the current opportunities into action. He said  three main priorities should be to increase testing, rethink and reinvent health promotion responses, and to get more people on treatments. Reflecting on the response to HIV he stressed that "we owe gay men for all that they have achieved". Download presentation from Slideshare

Michael Costello (Anwernekenhe National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV/AIDS Alliance [ANA]) discussed the 14 year history of the ANA, tracing its development from initially working with gay men and sistergirls, to a "whole of community" approach. He talked about current priorities for the organisation, which include working on policy and security ongoing funding, as well as building partnerships with AFAO, its members and other national organisations; he also discussed the organisation's current strategic plan.

Michael then set out priorities and barriers for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community as a whole, drawing on the issues that were raised at the Anwernekenhe 5 conference. Download presentation from Slideshare

Dr. Chris Lemoh (AFAO) discussed his experience working with migrants and refugees living with HIV, outlining insights he has gained from working with these communities about the place of health in people's lives and how this impacts on clinical and social practice.

His presentation prompted discussion about the impact of language barriers on participation in research surveys and current initiatives that exist to support CALD communities to contribute to surveys. Download presentation

Chiedza Malunga (Multicultural Health and Support Service) spoke about developing networks with culturally diverse communities, saying that one of greatest challenges in CALD communities is talking about HIV. She described how the "multi-layered" nature of CALD communities makes it challenging for positive service organisations to engage with communities; these "layers" include religious leaders, political leaders, bicultural workers, parents, and people on different visa types (skilled versus refugee visa). HIV-positive services are unlikely to have workers with direct experience of all of these groups, which can create barriers to communication.

The presentation prompted discussions from forum participants about the use of language, cultural competency and engaging with religious leaders. Chiedza said that thinking about frameworks of cultural competency should be our first priority before attempting to engage with religious leaders.

Finn O'Keefe (AFAO) discussed AFAO's flagship publication HIV Australia, describing how each edition of the magazine is framed around a specific theme. The process of developing each edition helps AFAO strengthen and expand its existing networks by engaging communities around key areas of interest.  He discussed how the thematic content provides a snapshot of current thinking on specific topics, and creates a tool that can be used for advocacy and education, both inside and outside of the  HIV sector. Download presentation

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