Month: March 2017

Bright Future for ‘Let’s Talk Culture’ Series

The future of ‘Let’s Talk Culture’ seminar series looked bleak after the closure of the Transcultural Mental Health Service. With the closure WA looked set to lose the first-rate seminar series. However, Health Consumers’ Council (HCC) are pleased to announce we have won a contract to coordinate three ‘Let’s Talk Culture’ seminars over 12 months!

What is Let’s Talk Culture?

The ‘Let’s Talk Culture’ seminars played an integral role in educating service providers about working cross culturally, specifically in mental health. Mental health is perceived quite differently from one culture to another. For services to deliver effective treatment there are essential aspects which need to be understood.

Let’s Talk Culture Background

The ‘Let’s Talk Culture’ (LTC) seminar series aims to assist mental health professionals to work in a culturally responsive way with clients from ethnically diverse backgrounds. These seminars, held three times a year, “(were jointly organised by the WA Mental Health Commission, the Transcultural Mental Health Service at Royal Perth Hospital; and, the Cultural Diversity Unit of the Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate at the Department of Health). Commenced in 2009, the LTC series ended in 2016 with the aforementioned closure.

The series “developed a level of unprecedented popularity and following across Western Australia’s service providers, policy makers, researchers, consumers and carers who have a stake and/or interest in transcultural mental health issues.  All seminars were typically booked out to full seating capacity (~ 240).   Topics that have been covered range from Spirituality, Culture and Mental health, Men, Culture and Mental health to the most recent, Alcohol, Drugs, Culture and Mental Health. (Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHIMA)

MHIMA is funded by Mental Health Australia and appears to be in some jeopardy regarding future directions; unfortunately this seems to be a common problem with all things multicultural at present.

Future of Let’s Talk Culture

Taking on the ‘Let’s Talk Culture’ series is a great privilege and we hope the wonderful people involved in initiating and developing the series will continue to be involved. HCC will be working in partnership with the Mental Health Commission and the Cultural Diversity Unit of the Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate at the Department of Health. Keep an eye out for more details, which will be available in the coming months on HCC’s website and social media channels.

Louise Ford | Consumer and Community Engagement Manager

World Tuberculosis Day: Prevention Better Than Cure

World Tuberculosis Day

Today is World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, 2017 is the second year of the “Unite to End TB” campaign. The UN Sustainable Development Goals and the WHO End TB Strategy target is to end TB by 2030. Click here to read more about World Tuberculosis Day and how you can support the “Unite to End TB” and “Leave No One Behind” campaigns.


The following article, first published in Health Matters Magazine in 2016, written by Majok Wutchok, (a member of the Sudanese community in Perth) outlines how West Australian Tuberculosis Control Program could be improved from a consumer perspective.

Tuberculosis (TB) is considered the second most deadly disease after HIV/AIDS in developing countries. Every year there is a mass movement of Australian’s travelling overseas on holiday and returning home. A major concern is there isn’t proper health promotion and public health education to protect consumers when they and their relatives return from overseas. Due to the lack of public health education they and their family may not be aware they are coming home infected with a tropical or communicable disease.


I recommend the WA Health Department set up a consumer overseas travellers screening task force, to avoid a future catastrophic spread of disease across the state. There is also a need to engage with healthcare providers to empower those infected with Tuberculosis and other communicable diseases and to support and empower their community.


Western Australia Tuberculosis Control Program

The current program, ‘Western Australia Tuberculosis Control Program’ is administered by the North Metropolitan Area Health Service (NMAHS). However, the program only endeavours to screen and treat the disease once it has been acquired, it does nothing to educate those at risk on prevention methods. ‘Western Australia Tuberculosis Control Program’ detailed as follows:


‘The program manages Tuberculosis in Western Australia and offers a state-wide public health service that operates as a resource centre and clinic. Aspects of the service include:


  • Treatment of Active TB: Diagnosis, treatment and case management
  • Surveillance and prevention of TB
  • Active screening of high risk groups
  • Contact tracing
  • Diagnosis and treatment of latent TB infection (preventative therapy)
  • Tuberculin Skin Test (TST), also known as Mantoux testing and BCG vaccinations to selected populations. Training and accreditation can be provided for relevant health professionals.
  • Free Health Service: All services related to the diagnosis, treatment of TB and relevant medications are provided at no charge. (See “Fees and charges related to the diagnosis and management of tuberculosis and leprosy” (Operational Directive OD 0229/09))
  • TB Infection Control
  • Advice on pre-employment screening of Health Care Workers and Tertiary Students
  • Advice on Management of TB risk in health care settings
  • Assistance with contact tracing in health care settings
  • Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy): Outpatient clinic service and consultative advice
  • Consultation: Specialist advice from medical and nursing staff is readily available, including preventative advice, health service education and access to information programs.
  • Policy and Operational Directives: Develop, implement and review policy relevant to TB management and control
  • TB Notification and Enhanced Surveillance data base: Maintenance and reporting on TB epidemiology’



Prevention is better than Cure

Even in 1918 the thinking regarding Tuberculosis, was ‘Prevention is better than a cure’ (Cobbett, L 1918, British Journal of Tuberculosis, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 16-19). According to the World Health Organisation (WHO 2014), prevention strategies involve encouraging and conducting research. It has been suggested that integrated intervention programs with consumers and their communities involved can be very beneficial. As opposed to vertical programs which are considered limited, integrated programs are considered far more effective for prevention. However, integrated programs need established communication and consistent health education together with consumers’ participation across all aspects.


Engaging Consumers is the key

Regarding primary healthcare and consumers, the involvement of a population group from high-risk consumers is paramount. At the same time public health education and community health promotion are also considered important, and are associated with the continuous use of those preventive measures by the consumer’s communities.


In short it is important sustainable prevention measures are taken to educate those at risk, to prevent them catching Tuberculosis and other communicable diseases while travelling, rather than simply screening and treating the disease when it has already been contracted.


Majok Wutchok | Consumer Representative | ANUTR | MPH Student

(This article was first published as ‘Consumer Approach Vs Tuberculosis Control in WA’ in HCC Health Matters Magazine 2016 Issue 2)

If you would like assistance partnering with consumers in health, the HCC Consumer & Community Engagement Team can help!

Partnering With Consumers

HCC facilitates on-site workshops that assist health care staff to increase their understanding of effective partnering with consumers in the governance and operational structures of your organisation. Principles of consumer participation within the context of health service accreditation can also be a key component of this bespoke fee for service training. Training can be conducted specifically for board members, executive committee members, management and point of care delivery staff, or with a whole of organisation approach.

Safety And Quality Committees

We can provide new and existing consumer members with information on the elements of quality and why patient safety is a critical area of focus in health care. This fee for service training can be tailored to meet the needs of specific safety and quality committees.

Register Your Interest

Please complete the form here to register your interest in HCC’s workshops.

For Further Information

Please contact the Health Consumers Council Community and Consumer Engagement team on 9221 3422 or email:

Louise Ford:

Steph Newell:

How you can help support quality healthcare for all

For some time, I have been thinking about people across the globe that access healthcare (health consumers). Unfortunately, most are not able to access the same quality of healthcare available in Australia. I wondered how we in the ‘Lucky Country’ could share our good fortune with others and help support quality healthcare for all.


Help support quality healthcare for all

To help support quality healthcare for all health consumers, Health Consumers’ Council will nominate each year a selected healthcare charity organisation located in Australia and overseas. We will provide those who attend our functions the opportunity to donate a gold coin go towards the nominated ‘good cause’. We hope you will support us in this endeavour to help improve healthcare for those less fortunate than ourselves.


Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia

In 2017 we are collecting donations for ‘Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’. ‘Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’ was founded in 1974 by husband and wife, Dr Reg Hamlin OBE and Dr Catherine Hamlin AC. I first came across the ‘Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’ in the 1990s and have since read more about it, including in the book, ‘The Hospital by the River’, by Dr Catherine Hamlin. (Pictured: Catherine Hamlin Co-founder of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia)


Catherine and her late husband Reg initially travelled to Ethiopia (as doctors) with the intent of staying for three years. Originally from Australia they dedicated their lives to the women of Ethiopia. Dr Catherine Hamlin turned 97 in January and she still lives in her home in the grounds of the Adis Ababa Fistula Hospital.


Catherine and Reg are part of my collection of heroes, people I admire for the contribution they have made to the lives of others and therefore the world. Today we constantly look at life through the media lens, making the world seem almost devoid of genuine acts of kindness. So, it is even more important to recognise genuine heroes like Catherine and Reg.


The Hamelin Clinic also has an office in New South Wales and I encourage you to visit their website here to learn more about this wonderful couple, their staff and women the Clinic heals.


Louise Ford | Consumer & Community Engagement Manager

Vote for your health this Saturday

Vote for your health this Saturday, make your vote count and read about the public health policies that will affect West Australians.

The wait is over, this Saturday March 11 you and others across WA will vote on the future of our State. The 2017 WA Public Health Pre-Election Forum was held on Tuesday February 14, providing an opportunity for the major political parties to present their public health policies. The following is a summary of what some of our politicians had to say about their party’s public health policies:

Vote for your health

Liberal Party of Western Australia – Health Policies

WA Health Minister John Day commented on the ‘fantastic’ health system that we as Western Australians enjoy while also mentioning that health is an ongoing concern where there is always more to be done.

  • Health Minister Day spoke about WA’s progress in decreasing tobacco consumption through the ‘Make Smoking History’ message. Health Minister Day indicated that, should he be re-elected, the Liberal Party would push to make it illegal for under 18’s to sell cigarettes and cigarette products, as well as banning the sale of cigarettes at large events and festivals.
  • Health Minister Day allocated a further 12 million dollars per year to grants in medical research. Moving forward Health Minister Day said that there needed to be greater emphasis on patient-centred research and that he was keen to make progress in this area.
  • Health Minister Day noted that at the end of last year, 70% of women in the third trimester of pregnancy had been vaccinated against whooping cough and should his government be re-elected they would aim to make changes to legislation to train midwives to administer the whooping cough vaccine with the aim of making that percentage even higher.
  • On the subject of Aboriginal Health, Health Minister Day said that his government was committed to working collaboratively with Aboriginal people and communities and they would ensure that healthcare remained culturally appropriate.

Click here to read more


Western Australian Labor Party – Health Policies

Roger Cook from the Western Australian Labor Party commented on Australia’s robust health system but fears for a public health system under duress. Mr. Cook suggested that ‘data from our patients and hospitals would guide the story and direction of healthcare for the future’.

If elected, Shadow Minister Cook outlined a range of policy initiatives from his government.

  • The development of Western Australia’s first ‘Medihotel’ – designed for discharged patients and offering specialist care while patients recuperate. Medihotels will essentially free up hospital beds, allowing patients to be seen and treated more efficiently.
  • In order to reduce the strain on emergency departments, a Labor government plans to introduce ‘Urgent Care Clinics’ whose purpose will be to service patients at an alternative setting where the appropriate care can be provided.
  • Promoting a message of ‘prevention is better than cure’, Roger Cook says, if elected, his government will focus on health promotion through active living as well as mental and social health. A ‘Let’s Prevent’ pilot program will be introduced to address the growing numbers of people diagnosed with diabetes.
  • A focus around changing the culture towards unhealthy lifestyles will be brought about through restricting alcohol advertising, including on Transperth as well as tightening tobacco laws if Labor is successful at the state election.

The Greens Western Australia – Health Policies

Alison Xamon spoke on behalf of The Greens Western Australia stating ‘they will act as a strong and determined voice in the legislative parliament, particularly around the issue of mental health’.

  • If elected, The Greens have identified a need to focus on health in a holistic way by addressing systemic disadvantage and asking ‘how are people living?’ Understanding the social determinants of health and how they impact mental and physical health will be a key strategy of the Greens approach.
  • The Greens will focus on early intervention and the barriers to accessing services believing that once an individual is in acute care, they have ‘already been let down by the system’.
  • Alcohol and other drugs (AOD) are another key focus and Ms. Xamon indicated that The Greens would re-address the crisis by treating and understanding the problem as a health issue – not solely a legal issue. The Greens will stop the ramping up of this issue and recognise the impact it has on Aboriginal and disadvantaged communities.

Click here to read more

We hope this short and sweet health policy outline of the key political parties public health initiatives will give you the confidence to vote for your health this Saturday March 11, towards a stronger, innovative and well-resourced health system. Make your vote count.


Bronte Duncan | Advocacy Officer| Health Consumers’ Council (WA)