A GROUP of local Koori youth has learned more about hepatitis and in the process repainted “Patty” the outreach medical van in colourful street art.
Katungul Aboriginal Medical Service in partnership with the Campbell Page Youth Connections has hosted a team from the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW (AH&MRC) who have delivered a program called “Your Mob, My Mob, Our Mob”.
The program sends a powerful message to youth outlining what hepatitis C is, how it affects people’s lives and how to prevent it.
Importantly, the program educates youth to become peer educators in order to spread the message and take opportunistic action.
AH&MRC project officer Lisa Panton said the program was piloted successfully at Wellington Aboriginal Health Corporation and Riverina and Grafton Juvenile Justice Centres in 2012 and Katungul has continued that success.
The final messages were delivered through a strongly interactive and engaging two-day session focused around keeping the message relevant: “Hep C stops with me”; “We want to deliver a healthy liver”.
Street art was used as the key delivery mechanism.
Graffiti artist Ash Johnston worked closely with the youth to show them how street art can be used in a positive display which culminated in the redesign of the Katungul outreach medical van, known as Patty.
“The design created by the youth was mad to watch unfold on the van,” Katungul Aboriginal health worker Jade Hansen said.
“The kids were deadly to work with. Backyard tattooing and piercing are the less known but high risk activities and we focused some time on them.”
Katungul chief executive Jon Rogers said a community barbecue was held to mark the completion of the session with around 100 participants congratulating the new peer educators.
“The sense of accomplishment, of having participated and contributed to such a striking design that will soon be out in the field for all to see has given these kids a reason to hold their heads high and take pride in their efforts” Mr Rogers said.