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Health Literacy at Star Health - An Interview

The Health Literacy Committee aims to ensures consumers can access health services and make informed decisions around their own health and wellbeing. To achieve this, the Committee focus on four areas:

1. Making consumer information easy to understand and act on;

2. Strengthening staff practice in health literacy;

3. Making our spaces easy to navigate;
4. Encouraging more consumers and volunteers to engage with health literacy.

We interviewed Liza, a member of the Health Literacy Review Panel, which works to review and edit care related document that are intended for consumers.

Since its implementation is 2017, the panel has reviewed 130 documents.

How did you get involved with the Health Literacy Committee?

Well, I came into contact with Star Health while seeking advice from RhED. I very quickly realised I wanted to volunteer at RhED on the advisory committee and the magazine committee. I had heard about the Health Literacy Committee, and that aligned with my skills and interests, so I got involved there. I had not particularly planned to be a volunteer at Star Health, but the interesting opportunities kept popping up. So, while I have been a consumer of Star Health services, I have done much more volunteering.


Liza shares that she is confident that the good things that have been happening at Star Health will continue at Better Health Network. When asked if she had a personal motto or message she wanted to share, Liza encourages everyone to “sing your little hearts out.”   

Liza is also an avid artist; her oil painting above is titled ‘Underwater Fantasy.’

What motivates you to stay involved?

I have been doing it for a while now, and as you invest your time and effort, you carry on as a result of having invested a lot of time and effort to begin with. I've also made a couple of nice friends that exist outside of the volunteering arena. You don't necessarily go into a volunteering situation expecting that, but it's lovely when it does happen.

 Do you have a contribution or achievement that you are the proudest of?

I'm really happy with what we do in the Health Literacy Committee. That's the group that meets most regularly, so I can speak to it the most. We have done a good job continuing over COVID and lockdown. I think that’s the thing I am most proud of, just keeping on. We really cohered beautifully as a group, we work well together, and I think we have done a lot of really good things.


A lot of meetings have moved to an online format due to the pandemic, how had that impacted the groups dynamics?

I don't know if the online format has impacted the dynamics. There is an ongoing sense of connection that hasn't been impaired by meeting online. Now were all used to it and we do other things online. It's actually much more convenient for me, and I realised during COVID that I was actually spending far too much travelling to and fro.


Over the last financial year, the Health Literacy Committee has reviewed 23 resources from 17 teams. How has the document reviewing process changed now that Health Literacy meetings are happening online?

I think it's much more efficient the way we do it now. I really do. I think it's it saves so much more time even though you know it was quite fun sometimes doing it in person.


Ruby, a Diversity Project Volunteer, has contributed to the 2022 Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) survey, arranging Intersectionality Training and the Diversity Framework. Over the past 5 months, Ruby has shown strong skills in research, data processing, project planning and stakeholder engagement.

We interviewed Ruby to discuss her volunteering endeavours.

How did you start volunteering at Star Health?

I found Star Health through a list on the Victorian Government website of organisations that they work with. Star Health replied to my email and was able to have me.

You have an academic background in public health, does that impact what motivates you stay involved?

I think that health is the greatest equalizer, but that doesn't mean we all get equal health. It’s based on your circumstances and so many different things. This makes me passionate about public health, and I like that Star Health focuses on equitable access. I have got to see more about the communities that access services, what they get out of it and what they say is a gap. Then working on different projects to see how the organization can address that. Also, personally, I feel like if I did nothing, I would feel lost. I'm actively working on my future and where I want to be.

Do you have any skills that you have picked up while volunteering?

They said this all the time in uni, “when you go into the real world everything will be teamwork and cooperation.” It’s been really cool to work in a teamwork-based environment, besides uni assignments. A lot of our conversations are “that's a really good idea that I didn't think about” or vice versa. And then we actually come up with something that’s quite good. The other part is seeing how an organisation runs, I have never seen the behind the scenes, especially when we talk about feasibility. You can get as much information as you want, but what are you going to do with that? How does an organisation use that?

The nature of your role as a diversity project volunteer involves a lot of discussion about how things should happen. Have you picked up any key concepts that have guided your thinking?

One of the good things is in public health, you will never be the smartest person in the room, because I don't belong to every community. I can have a degree, but my knowledge is useless if I don't understand lived experience. So, in the context of shared decision making you really got to listen to what people say, consider what is feasible to an organisation and find that middle ground. Ruby is keen to participate in a diverse range of projects and seeing the practical implementation of the many projects she has contributed to.

Farewell – A Sonnet by a Smoking Cessation Client

My darling cigarette, I know it’s been an aeon since we met, our courtship long and faithful. Anxiety became serene whenever we consorted, ever strong your breathable support. And yet you must have noticed my decline, my lungs, my heart, my teeth and eyes becoming less robust the more we dallied. Addictive was the art with which your charismatic toxins drew me in, for even past the point of all awareness I still puffed, and though I knew how wily and how shrewd you were, your thrall escaped me. But now compelled to cut that cord, I make a truer air my overlord.

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