Hepatitis Heroes: A digital fight against stigma and discrimination

Stream: Stigma 2
Date: Thursday, 31 March 2016
Time: 3.30 pm – 4.45 pm

Abstract

Stigma and discrimination are frequently experienced by people with viral hepatitis, inhibiting health care access and political mobilisation. No broad-ranging, well-resourced campaign has been undertaken nationally to improve community awareness about hepatitis. Hence, the cycle of stigma and discrimination is perpetuated.

New digital techniques offer an opportunity to give expression to the affected community and supporters, and maximize their voices. In 2013 the Hepatitis Heroes website was launched at Melbourne’s Federation Square. With the Happy Livers band playing, Heroes spoke publicly.

This website (now incorporated into Hepatitis Victoria’s website and featured on the rotating carousel) showcases over 45 Heroes - health workers, advocates, researchers, clinicians and those bravely confronting their own condition. The site invites the public to make a pledge against discrimination.

Heroes are encouraged to use social media to spread the word, reinforced across multiple media channels by Hepatitis Victoria. In 2014 ‘Hep Heroes – The Movie’ was launched providing another way to disseminate the messages, including YouTube and in education sessions. Digital media is a useful tool for giving expression to the personal impact of hepatitis and maximizing the fight against stigma and discrimination. The Hepatitis Heroes initiative has allowed Hepatitis Victoria to build relationships with valued individuals and supporters. It has generated a versatile body of information with the potential to be used in multiple ways to spread the word and reduce isolation amongst the affected community.

Authors

Melanie Eagle (Presenter), Hepatitis Victoria
Melanie Eagle is the CEO of Hepatitis Victoria and a Board member of Hepatitis Australia.Melanie has qualifications in Arts, Social Work, Law and International Development.Prior to Hepatitis Victoria, Melanie worked professionally in a variety of sectors including the public sector; as a private sector solicitor; and a researcher in the union movement. Her non-professional activities have also been diverse including as a Local Government Mayor and Councillor and as a member of the Boards/Committees of a wide range of community organisations.Over time Melanie has developed expertise in community and stakeholder engagement, strategic planning, policy development and program design and evaluation.

Marina Mazza (Presenter), Hepatitis Victoria
Marina Mazza is the Community Participation Coordinator at Hepatitis Victoria, where she has worked in several community engagement and health promotion projects for almost 2 years. Her background is in Nutrition and Dietetics, and in addition she has recently completed the Master of Public Health at The University of Melbourne. Prior to her role at Hepatitis Victoria, Marina worked as a Dietitian in Argentina in the areas of clinical dietetics and public health nutrition.