South West Public Health Forum

PHAIWA were invited by the South West Public Health Unit to facilitate and deliver two workshops (Advocacy 101 & Public Health Planning in Local Government) at the South West Public Health Forum on July 24th & 25th 2014. This event aimed to increase skills and build capacity for regional health promotion staff to work in a changing and challenging public health environment. Delegates attended from WACHS Public Health - health promotion staff from the Great Southern, Wheatbelt and Goldfields regions, as well as from related Non Government organisations and Local Governments.

The two-day forum featured the following workshops and presentations:

  • Motivational presentation from Simon Frayne, 'What is Health?'
  • Official opening from WACHS SW Regional Director Ms Grace Ley
  • Welcome to Country from Ms Norah Dann
  • Dr Naru Pal, WACHS Public Health Physician, 'Setting the Scene'
  • Dr Tarun Weeramanthri, ED Public Health Division WA Health, 'Centres and peripheries of excellence: bridging the metro-rural divide"
  • David Naughton, Project Director Southern Inland Health Initiative WA Health, 'Primary health care and linkages with health promotion'
  • 'Public health planning in local government' workshop, Dr Mel Stoneham, PHAIWA Deputy-Director
  • Snapshots presentations of public health initiatives from across the regions
  • Advocacy workshop, Emily O'Connell, PHAIWA Project Officer
  • Peter Kenyon, Bank of I.D.E.A.S, 'Tools for engaging and working with communities'

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Forum delegates getting active during a workshop activity




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Delegates from government, local government & community organisations sharing ideas and developing networks




Media Training for Aboriginal Advocates

On July 5th PHAIWA held a media workshop at the Rural Health West Aboriginal Health Conference. A total of 14 delegates from various health and medical organisations around Australia attended the hands-on workshop to gain tips on how best to advocate for Aboriginal health in the media.

PHAIWA Deputy-Director Dr Mel Stoneham provided context for the workshop by summarising her recent research finding that negative Indigenous health coverage reinforces stigma towards Aboriginal people. The workshop also included a practical media release activity where participants worked in groups to draft a media release to tell a positive story about Aboriginal health.

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  Workshop participants brainstorming for the media release activity


Advocacy Workshop - Kalgoorlie


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Brainstorming session with workshop participants, 'what is advocacy?'

On the 20th of June, PHAIWA visited Kalgoorlie to deliver an 'Advocacy and Media' workshop to 18 health professionals from the WA Country Health Service (Goldfields), Cancer Council WA, Goldfields-Midwest Medicare Local, and Bega Garnbirringu Health Service. This workshop provided attendees with an insight into the work of PHAIWA, an introduction to public health advocacy, and an outline of strategies which are of use for their advocacy efforts.

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Presentations from Jordan Cutts, GWN7 reporter, and Michael Dulaney, Kalgoorlie Miner journalist

Presentations from members of the local media provided participants with a valuable insight into how they may best work with the media to get positive exposure of their public health message, as well as how to use the media as complementary strategy for their advocacy efforts. The workshop was also featured in the Kalgoorlie Miner the next day (see attachment).

PHAIWA followed on from these presentations by working with the participants to develop either a media release or a letter to the editor. This session was positively received by participants, with numerous individuals commenting in their evaluation that the opportunities to hear from local media representatives were the highlights of the workshop.

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Participants engaged in group work for the media release activity

PHAIWA also presented a session on the use of e-advocacy as an effective advocacy strategy. All participants engaged in a hands-on activity to develop a potential poll question which could be used to complement an advocacy campaign. A discussion about the best way to work with politicians also provided participants with an opportunity to consider how they can communicate with decision-makers about public health issues.
Overall, the workshop provided participants plenty of opportunities to discuss issues that concerned their work in the local community and consider how various advocacy strategies could be implemented to enhance public health efforts. The final evaluation showed that 100% of participants either agreed or strongly agreed that the workshop increased their knowledge of how to work with the media, and 94.5% strongly agreed or agreed that the workshop increased their knowledge of developing a comprehensive advocacy strategy.

This workshop was part of PHAIWA's capacity-building program which provides tools, resources and skills to organisations and individuals to improve their ability to achieve effective advocacy. Workshops are presented as part of PHAIWA's Capacity Building & Professional Development Project, funded by Healthway.

For organisations wishing to organise advocacy training, please download the expression of interest form from here or contact Emily O'Connell on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 9266 1544.

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Download this file (Kal_Miner media coverage.jpg)Kal Miner PHAIWA workshop1056 Kb


On Friday 6th June, over 80 people filled the Grace Vaughan House Theatrette in Shenton Park to hear from Professor Alan Lopez, Melbourne Laureate Professor and Rowden-White Chair of Global Health and Burden of Disease Measurement in the School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne.       lopez 3

PHAIWA Director Professor Mike Daube introducing Professor Alan Lopez 

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The audience at the seminar 

Professor Lopez outlined key findings from The Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study (GBD 2010), considered to be the most comprehensive account of global health. Trends in child mortality, alcohol abuse, injury, lung cancer, ischemic heart disease, tobacco and obesity were all explored as examples of global patterns in health and disease, and the need for policy-makers to reduce their ignorance about the health risks facing populations.

The following key messages from the GBD 2010 were provided:

  • Health-related Millennium Development Goals are making increasingly minor contributions to overall disease burden in most regions except Sub-Saharan Africa and a few other countries (e.g. Papua New Guinea);
  • Raid and sustained progress in reducing child and maternal mortality has occurred over the past two decades;
  • HIV, Malaria and Tuberculosis each now cause 1-1.5 deaths annually so must remain the target of global health focus;
  • There is a urgent need to promote policies and programs aimed at avoiding premature deaths of adults, especially road traffic accidents, suicide, cancers, ischemic heart disease and cirrhosis;
  • Tobacco, obesity, diet, alcohol, and blood pressure control are all vastly underappreciated as major global causes of health loss; and
  • Continued life expectancy gains are probable in all populations but are likely to be accompanied by increased periods of chronic disability.

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Professor Lopez providing a summary of The Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study

Professor Lopez’s presentation provided strong evidence of the need for governments and policy makers to select action areas based on comprehensive and comparable information on health loss which is provided by GBD 2010. Without a broad comparative view of health loss by cause and understanding of the risk factors, important health challenges may be missed or ignored and others may be over-emphasised. The GBD framework is essential for providing a roadmap of health challenges, charting past progress as an input to debate about the future.

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Download this file (Alan Lopez June 6 flyer.pdf)Alan Lopez 6 June flyer184 Kb


On the 10th of April, PHAIWA hosted a visit from Isabel Ross, an inspiring public health advocate who has just spent the past two years volunteering in Swaziland. PHAIWA has followed Isabel's journey in our newsletters since 2012, providing readers with an inspiring insight into the power of advocacy for a country facing issues far different to those in our own backyard.

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PHAIWA Deputy-Director Mel Stoneham talks about advocacy                          Isabel Ross discusses her aid work and adventures in Swaziland

For the entire hour of Isabel's presentation the audience was spell-bound by her story of how she moved from the Geraldton to one of the smallest countries in Africa to embark on aid work with Gone Rural boMake, a community development organisation whose water, health and education projects empower 10,000 women artisans and their communities. During her time there, Isabel was involved in a range of programs covering: child health, mental health, women's health, sexual health, water and sanitation, and even assisting in organising a music festival and the recording of a cd showcasing the voices of local Swazis.  

Sustaining the positive impact of volunteer work is often difficult to achieve once an individual returns to their home country, however Isabel has left a long-lasting and sustainable impact on the Gone Rural boMake organisation. Her work to train peer-educators and empower local women has resulted in many positive flow-on effects, including: a significant increase in the number of local children attending school, an increase in the number of women reporting they are the main decision maker in for household finances, and an increase in the knowledge of local women about their HIV status.

The presentation provided an eye-opening account of the difficulties faced by people in Swaziland as a result of the high HIV rates, poverty and inequalities faced by women; but it was clear from Isabel's account that she experienced great kindness and friendship from the locals she met. The audience was captivated by the amazing range of experiences she faced while overseas, such as her encounters with locals at traditional religious ceremonies, and the over 50 marriage proposals she received (her highest offer was 50 cows for her hand in marriage!).

Providing the best indication of the life-changing effect of volunteer work, Isabel will be embarking on a new journey next month, travelling to Zambia for a 12-month period volunteering with water and sanitation programs. PHAIWA wishes her well and we know that her work will lead to many positive changes for that community, just as she has made a lasting impact on the lives of people in Swaziland

To read about Isabel's adventures, and follow her work in Zambia, you can view her blog.

Further information about aid work is available from