New report plots way forward

Cher Jimenez

The latest Latrobe Health Advocate report hopes to offer a model for local service providers and government around how to engage members of the community, especially those who are feeling a bit left out.

The report, released last week by Jane Anderson, discussed her engagements with people living with chronic conditions, people living with a disability, and those who come from multicultural backgrounds on how they want their voices to be heard.

In partnership with the Australian Centre for Social Innovation, Ms Anderson met people with disability, those living with chronic conditions, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in places where they felt comfortable to engage them.

“We had a combination of group conversations and individual conversations in different locations in people’s homes, in community locations, at places where they already had connection or they felt safe and comfortable,” she said.

The report has revealed that people living with chronic conditions appreciate “honest and authentic” conversations and prefer combining engagement activities with social activities such as walking or anything that provides them an opportunity to connect with other people.

“The people we met with had a resilience about them, and despite their chronic conditions, they were finding ways to go about their business and live their day-to-day lives,” the report said.

Ms Anderson said her office was also holding conversations with other disadvantaged groups such as those from the LGBTQI community, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and those experiencing financial stress.

“What we found is there’s groups of people who are not fully included in the community and don’t have equality in their voice, so the system need to change to be able to listen to those groups of people,” she said.

The report also talked about how people living with a disability struggle to navigate through formal disability supports and how they wanted to become a part of the decision-making process around things that affect them.

Morwell resident Diane Ross,who was engaged by the advocate in her home, said her conversation with Ms Anderson made her feel like a “human again”.

“Coming from chronic pain and age as well as disability , life can be extremely lonely and you feel like you’ve been forgotten,” the 69-year-old said.

“It was wonderful to have someone there to show interest, that there’s help out there for us because you do get very lost in your own misery.”

Meanwhile, people from multicultural backgrounds said in the report that they appreciate face-to-face engagements and they hoped to connect with community in a neutral and safe manner.