Category: News

Step Forward – Together

CommunityWest in partnership with COTA Australia has been undertaking a national project, trialling co-production in the aged care sector.

The Step Forward – Together project has ten pilot sites using co-production in their organisations over the last eight months resulting in great success as a method for service improvement and innovation.

The consumers involved in the pilot site projects have also benefited from being involved and have reported increased confidence, improved relationships with staff, increased sense of self-worth and value, a renewed sense of purpose in life, and new skills and knowledge learnt.

Brenda Bryant is an avid writer and poet and has been writing a blog of her time during the Step Forward – Together project. She was delighted to be asked to take a peek behind the scenes and contribute to the renewal taking place in aged care nationwide. Brenda is 85 years old and has accessed home care services provided by Novacare Community Services since having a stroke three years ago.

By being involved in the Step Forward – Together project, Brenda feels even more appreciative of the effort made by Novacare to genuinely engage with the older people in her community. Brenda believes there has never been a better time to be old and has written this poem about her time with the project.

There was an old lady from Oz,

Who enjoyed co-production because,

She could add the odd thought

Though it might come to nought,

And compare the ‘what is’ to ‘what was’.


To appreciate aged care today,

We must bring every mind into play.

If we co-operate,

We can add much more weight,

And feel glad ‘cos we’re having our say.


I encourage you all to take part!

Use your brain for its bright and it’s smart.

Just have your say,

And you may, yes you may

Cause something unusual to start!

In this wonderful new world of caring

There is nothing so vital as sharing…


The ten pilot site projects complete 31 May and CommunityWest will be disseminating the learnings of the project over the coming months, including a documentary and ‘how to’ guide and toolkit on co-producing aged care services.

For more information contact Kelly Gray, CommunityWest Consultant, (08) 9309 8180.

Your Say on Cancer WA

A recent state-wide survey shows that many people don’t know that 30 – 40% of cancer cases in WA are preventable. With almost 12, 000 Western Australians diagnosed with cancer every year, this is both shocking and heartbreaking.


This information comes from a report recently released by the Department of Health entitled Priorities and Preferences for Cancer Control in Western Australia


This report summarises responses to an online public consultation conducted last year on the seven cancers which have the greatest impact on the WA community and greatest opportunity for prevention: bowel, breast, cervical, lung, melanoma, prostate and oesophageal/stomach cancer. The report has revealed that a third of participants were unaware that much could be done to prevent cancer.  In particular, many people were not aware of the dietary risk factors for bowel cancer and that cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable.


A poor understanding of the preventability of cancer is not necessarily surprising as historically, much of the discussion about cancer in the community has focused on treatment, sometimes to the detriment of prevention messages.  However, it does highlight the potential for reducing the pain, anguish and cost associated with treating cancer.


The value of this new report is that, in seeking out community views on priorities and preferences for cancer control it has identified some clear areas for increased action in the immediate future, including: Increasing the number of Western Australians participating in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program; Strengthening health promotion messages around recommended red meat intake; reducing processed meat consumption; reducing alcohol consumption; and reducing salt intake, as well as links between obesity and cancer risk; Working to raise the profile of cancer prevention and early detection; and Building on gains made in tackling harm caused by smoking, exposure to ultra violet radiation and asbestos, as well as exploring new and innovative programs to reach vulnerable groups and address emerging issues.


This is the first time the Chief Health Officer of WA has asked the community for feedback in a report and the first time (to my knowledge) an online forum has been used to gather community opinion on cancer prevention in WA. As a co-author on the report it was a privilege to bear witness to the frank, open and creative ideas for cancer prevention from our consultation participants.  We are very grateful for their input and the time they devoted to answering our questions.


The report was prepared in collaboration with a number of agencies including the Health Consumers’ Council WA, Cancer Council WA, Public Health Advocacy Institute of WA, Curtin University and WA Clinical Oncology Group.


To read more about the findings of the consultation and how the Department of Health is responding, you can access the full report here:


As a project team we also had a lot of fun planning and putting together a consumer website with a range of supporting material including a summary of the report findings, some innovative infographics of cancer data, and expert videos.


Check out the website for yourselves here:

Guest Blogger: Dr Jennifer Girschik

The cigarette packet that stops you smoking

All cigarette packets now carry warnings and graphic images to remind you of the dangers of smoking. Now Edith Cowan University and Curtin University researchers have gone a step further. They have built a cigarette packet that talks to you.

The cigarette packet is a plastic case for smokers to keep their cigarettes or nicotine-replacement products. The box is equipped with a speaker and microphone.

Smokers can record their own voice (or that of their loved ones) reminding them of the reason they want to quit. This plays every time the packet is opened.

Associate Professor Paul Chang from ECU’s School of Psychology and Social Science said the idea was to tap into the smoker’s own motivations for quitting.

“So far we have no widespread data, but we have tried the box out on clients of one pharmacy with good results. If you are a confirmed smoker with no intention of quitting you will have no interest in the device. But people who have already tried and failed to quit find it is a really good add on to change behaviour. It is very important for people to have their own personal motivation to do so,” he said.

Every time they open the packet it will give them a powerful motivation to quit once and for all.

“The message should give personalised reasons to quit that are important to the smoker, such as promises they made to themselves, their spouse or their children.”

“One thing I think that could be particularly effective for parents who smoke would be to get their children to record the message, encouraging them to kick the habit.”

Study participant Cathy Skalski said she had reduced the number of cigarettes she was smoking since she started using the packet.

“I have a recording of my two-week old grandson crying on my packet,” she said.

“It’s a great reminder for me of why I want to quit, so I can watch him grow up.”

Ms Skalski said having the sound play every time she opened her cigarette packet was embarrassing. That is a further incentive to reduce her smoking.

“I don’t like people looking at me when they hear the sound of a baby crying when I open the pack, which is good because it means I’m less likely to reach for a cigarette,” she said.

Professor Chang said the next step for the research was to use the data from the study to design a larger randomised control trial.

Professor Chang is currently looking for volunteers.If you are a smoker and want to stop but are finding it difficult to quit, leave a message on 6304 5745 or send an email to:

By Frank Smith – HCC Blog Contributor

Closing the gap in a generation

The World Health Organisation and the Commission on Social Determinants of Health have published their final report, Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health. Please see an excerpt below:

“The Commission, created to marshal the evidence on what can be done to promote health equity and to foster a global movement to achieve it, is a global collaboration of policy-makers, researchers, and civil society led by Commissioners with a unique blend of political, academic, and advocacy experience. Importantly, the focus of attention embraces countries at all levels of income and development: the global South and North. Health equity is an issue within all our countries and is affected significantly by the global economic and political system.

To read the whole report, please click on the link.