@WePublicHealth: An experiment in citizen journalism meets public health
@WePublicHealth tests the use of a rotated curated Twitter account as a new model for citizen journalism with a public health focus.
Every week, a different person – including community members and public health professionals – is asked to tweet-report and investigate public health matters.
Their focus might be local – for example, documenting the cost of fresh foods in remote communities via tweet-photos – national or global (for example, reporting from international conferences and events).
They might use the account to share a photographic or film-based investigation, or to share links to related resources and research, for example. Or they might convene Twitter chats or interviews around particular topics, events or hashtags.
One of the goals is to encourage creative use of Twitter for public interest discussions and investigations.
Information for @WePublicHealth applicants and tweeters
1. The @WePublicHealth project aims to encourage public health investigations and reporting of events and issues that are likely to be of interest or use to Croakey readers. We ask that you consider how you can use the week to provide a service to the account’s followers.
2. If you are interested in a stint on @WePublicHealth, please get in touch with a note about what you’d like to cover. Send a short bio and the topic or event that you would like to cover. The account is not available to those working for Coca-Cola et al.
3. The @WePublicHealth tweets are displayed on the Croakey home page. Please be aware of this, and maintain a respectful, civil tone in your tweets and discussions. Do not tweet anything you would not want to see on Croakey’s home page.
4. This account is not to be used for personal attacks. As the guests have control over the account, they are legally responsible for their tweets. Croakey does not accept responsibility if guest tweeters publish defamatory comments.
Ruth McNair – @McNairDr – is an Honorary Associate Professor at the Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne and a general practitioner at an inner-urban general practice. She has clinical and research interests in lesbian and bisexual women’s mental health, sexual health, same-sex parenting, and LGBT health care and homelessness. She is involved in advising on LGBTI policy and health provider education. She was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2017 for her academic, clinical and advocacy work for LGBT health.
This week, Marlene Longbottom (@MLongbottom13), a Yuin Bhulung woman and PhD scholar, shared news from a visit to Australia by Standing Rock Water Protectors, Janelle Cronin and Zachary Wamego (see the flier below for their bio details). They visited communities in NSW and the ACT, met with Clinton Pryor on his long walk across the continent for justice, and also gave a number of presentations, including one cited below at Macquarie University.
Hepatitis Victoria – @HepVic – was in the chair in the lead-up to World Hepatitis Day on Friday 28 July. Hepatitis Victoria is the peak not-for-profit community organisation working across the state for people affected by or at risk of viral hepatitis.
We raise awareness, provide information and support, and advocate for action on prevention, testing and treatment. We recognise that achieving the aim of eliminating hepatitis B and C by 2030 means also eliminating the stigma and discrimination that pose a potentially deadly barrier to people seeking help.
Viral hepatitis affects around 500,000 people in Australia, and 110,000 in Victoria, where around six people die every week from the disease, which can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer – the fastest increasing cause of cancer death in Australia. In contrast, the hepatitis A virus that has recently been associated with contaminated frozen berries affects a small number of people in Australia, and does not result in death.
A global campaign to mark World Hepatitis Day is being carried out under the theme of ‘Elimination’ and using the hashtag #NoHep. (Read more here from the World Hepatitis Alliance). In Australia, #HepFreeAus was also used, and state-specific hashtags such as #HepFreeVic.
We commenced our live-tweeting for the week with our Monday event at the Parliament of Victoria, Diverse communities and the hepatitis challenge – towards elimination. The event recognises that culturally diverse and Aboriginal communities are disproportionately impacted by viral hepatitis for a range of reasons including inadequate access to health services, poor health literacy, and broader socio-economic disadvantage.
This week, @CroakeyNews is RT-ing from the #NAIDOC2017 stream. According to the NAIDOC Week organisers: “The 2017 theme – Our Languages Matter – aims to emphasise and celebrate the unique and essential role that Indigenous languages play in cultural identity, linking people to their land and water and in the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song.”
This week, Dr Margaret Beavis – @margaretbeavis – is in the chair. A Melbourne GP with a strong interest in public health, she has just returned from 10 days in New York at the UN, as a civil society participant at negotiations between 120-plus countries for an historic nuclear weapons ban treaty which is expected to be concluded on July 7. The talks are being boycotted by the US, other nuclear states, the NATO states and Australia, the first time an Australian government has refused to participate in such a multilateral accord. Beavis will tweet this week with insights from the negotiations and about Australia’s failure to participate.
She teaches at Melbourne University and is currently president of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (@mapw_australia), the Australian affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 in recognition of its work to alert Soviet and US leaders to the grave public health risks of nuclear war and to educate the general public.
@healthy_climate was in the chair, covering the launch of a Framework for a National Strategy for Climate, Health and Well-Being in Canberra on 22 June. Read Croakey’s comprehensive report of the launch here, and see more details about its health-related recommendations here and here.
@Prevention1stAU covered the launch of its new report, Preventative Health: How much does Australia spend and is it enough and related topics. Amy Coopes also covered the report, which found that Australia compared poorly with OECD peers in terms of spending on prevention, for Croakey.
This week the communications team and experts at the @SaxInstitute discussed how we can increase the use of evidence in policy and programs to improve the health of all Australians.
This was the second time that Dr Graham Mackenzie, Public Health Doctor in Scotland, has edited the
@WePublicHealth Twitter feed. Read his blog from guest editing @WePublicHealth in January 2016 here and this great summary of this week’s tweeting, with so many great links and analyses.
This time round Graham used Twitter “big data” to source the best tweets and related materials from around the world on a series of Public Health topics, including physical activity, social determinants of health, antibiotic resistance, vaccination and more, introducing a new topic each day.
Read more about the techniques he used in this blog on Immunization Week last month.
On 31 May Graham tweeted live from the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh conference “Public Health in a Changing World” (hashtag
#rcpePH17) – check out his Storify post from the event. That same day, appropriately, was World #NoTobacco day (more info here). You can also see his Storify compilations of:
- Top 60 tweets from World Congress on Public Health, 3-7 April 2017, Melbourne #WCPH2017
- A selection of top tweets from World Health Day (7 April 2017)
- Top 20 MentalHealth tweets
- #EndPJParalysis: Top 30 tweets 18-27 May 2017
And this comprehensive analysis of WePublicHealth followers
This week we heard from the Healing Foundation (@HealingOurWay) for #BTH20 – marking the 20th anniversary of the tabling of the Bringing Them Home report. The report was the result of a national inquiry by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission that heard from approximately 1000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and extensively documented the experiences of Stolen Generations members.
20 years on, #BTH20 is about sharing the stories of Stolen Generations members, and this part of Australia’s history. #BTH20 is about acknowledging the past, looking to the future and sharing culture, spirit and pride with all Australians. Below are some tweets from #BTH20 Parliamentary events in the ACT, NSW, Queensland and Western Australia, as well as more general tweets. (Read more in this Croakey Conference News Service report from a launch in Parliament House in Canberra)
This week we are hearing from Gerry Moore (@SNAICC_CEO), a Yuin man from the south coast of NSW, who is the current CEO of SNAICC: National Voice for our Children (as of March 2016) and the co-chair of the Family Matters Campaign, which aims to eliminate the over-representation of Indigenous kids removed by child protection authorities and will be holding its first ever ‘Week of Action’ from 14-20 of May. There will be many events – including several high profile launch events in Melbourne – during this week of action, which is being held to raise awareness of this critical concern and demand government action. The recent inaugural Family Matters Report outlines the current state of play in Australia and offers up evidence based solutions.
Gerry is also a current Board member of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. Previous to his role at SNAICC, Gerry was the Managing Director of an Aboriginal community owned organisation based in Canberra and in Nowra on the NSW South Coast. Other key previous positions include: CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Services NSW/ACT; ATSIC Regional Councillor and National ATSIC Commissioner; CEO of the South East Aboriginal Legal Service; Chairperson of the NSW Aboriginal Housing Development Committee; and Senior Project Officer of the NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs.
This week we heard from @CochraneCanada, the Canadian arm of Cochrane – an independent global network of over 37,000 healthcare practitioners, researchers, patient advocates and others. Cochrane works to turn the evidence generated through research into useful information for making everyday decisions about health. Canada is one of 130 countries involved in this non-profit organization that promotes evidence-based decision-making in healthcare by producing high-quality systematic reviews that are free from commercial sponsorship. #CCSymp2017 provided news from the Cochrane Canada Symposium, in Hamilton, Ontario on 11 and 12 May.
This week, Dr Tim Senior – @timsenior – is covering the #ruralWONCA conference in Cairns. Tim is a GP who works in Aboriginal health, and who crowdfunded the Wonky Health columns at Croakey, investigating the impacts of policies upon health. He is a contributing editor at Croakey, and also a contributor to the #JustJustice project. He has his own blog, and won the inaugural Gavin Mooney Memorial Essay Competition, writing about climate change and equity.
This week, Dr Tim Kelly covered the National Rural Health Conference in Cairns – #ruralhealthconf. He is a rural GP who divides his time between rural locums, telemedicine support for small rural emergency departments with the Rural Doctors Workforce Agency of SA and runs AOGP – a not-for-profit organisation that provides education, benchmarking and other support services for general practice. He is immediate past Chair of the National Rural Health Alliance and believes every consultation in the health care setting is an opportunity that should not be wasted.
@jaredknoll from @UpstreamAction – which is “a movement to create a healthy society through evidence-based, people-centred ideas” – shared many resources . Upstream seeks to reframe public discourse around addressing the social determinants of health in order to build a healthier society”. Upstream is an independent, non-partisan organization incorporated as a non-profit with offices in Saskatoon and Toronto.
As the Communications Coordinator for Upstream, Jared translate evidences into impact through people-centred stories. He’s trained in human rights, communications and politics with a professional background in journalism, and earned his MA in Media, Peace and Conflict Studies at the University for Peace. He has recently returned to his prairie roots after working throughout Africa and Latin America for most of the past decade, and believes the spread of accurate, honest information can be a powerful vehicle for positive social impacts, justice and policy action.
This week, the Croakey team RT-ed from a series of events related to health equity, including the visit to South Australia of Sir Michael Marmot.
Bill Bellew –
@billbellew – covered the 15th World Congress on Public Health and provided a wealth of coverage on Twitter and with Periscope broadcasts – #WCPH2017. An adjunct professor at the Sydney School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, Bill grew up in Ireland, then England, and now is growing up in Australia (work in progress). He has been a public health person for 25+ years – NCD prevention at population level, and has worked in many countries including India, Philippines, Pacific Island nations. Government, Non-gov, Freelance at various points. He likes taking fish photos underwater. From WCPH17 – “I will give my take on the best of the Plenaries as well as the World Leadership Dialogue in Suicide Prevention in First Nations People. It’s an honour to be in the role for such an important week.”
Colleen Lavelle – @ColleenLavelle1 – a Wakka Wakka woman and mother who has inoperable cancer – shared a wealth of public health news from around Australia and globally. Colleen’s blogging and tweeting seek to improve healthcare for other Aboriginal people, and to raise awareness of the issues facing them, including racism within the healthcare system. Her week at @WePublicHealth coincided with preparation for Cyclone Debbie in north Queensland. Read more at her blog and in her article for The Guardian.
Dr Jonathan (Yotti) Kingsley was in the chair – @YottiKingsley. He is a husband, father, Convenor of Health Communication
@Swinburne, interested in research and teaching focused on EcoHealth, prevention, community development and social justice. He is also an Honorary Fellow, Indigenous health and wellbeing @unimelbMDHS. His plans for the week:
On Monday I will be doing a lecture to 300 odd students introducing first year students to determinants of health, developing Indigenous curriculum into OT and doing a 3 hour workshop on designing environments of health. On Tuesday I will be doing a few hours of health promotion teaching. I will get students to engage in #WePublicHealth discussions so should lead to interesting discussions on learning and teaching from teacher and student perspective.
On Wednesday I will talk about my research, others in school of Health Science at Swinburne and others I collaborate.
On Thursday I will focus on my new action research project which is trying to make Swinburne University Disposable cup free by 2021 so there will be activities, research and meetings with the media department to discuss a collaboration with the Australian health promotion association around this topic.
On Friday I will be developing curriculum for the next week. And will showcase other peoples work who is influencing the health sciences and health promotion team.
This week, we heard from Daniel James – @MrDTJames – a Yorta Yorta man working in health, who recently published an article at Croakey on the need to address failures in the close the gap policy agenda arising from failures to work appropriately with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It was International Women’s Day during this week.
This week, we heard from Tanya Ha – @Ha_Tanya – environmental advocate, broadcaster, author, science communicator & sustainability researcher. She covered many topics and included below is a selection of her tweets on the importance of self-care for public health advocates. Tanya is an Associate of
@scienceinpublic and @MSSIMelb
Q: What’s your background and what does it have to do with public health?
I divide my work week between freelance environmental and science communication, writing and consulting, and working as the director of engagement at the Melbourne-based science communication agency Science in Public.
With my freelance hat on, I’ve written reports on the health benefits of contact with nature for Planet Ark, written features for several magazines and newspapers, and provided climate change communication and waste education consulting services for clients, such as local councils.
I’ve also been a host, moderator, keynote speaker and occasionally the event producer for a stack of public events aimed at engaging audiences in science, sustainability, health and environmental topics. For example, I produced and hosted ‘Risk business or worried well? The science of why and what we fear’ for EPA Victoria during last year’s National Science Week. This week I’ll be hosting the Celebrating Women in Conservation breakfast.
At Science in Public, I look after our work for health charity the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia and national publicity for National Science Week. We also media train scientists, so that they can bring their research to key audiences, from journalists to policy makers to school groups to the broader public.
We also run media programs for major conferences. I’m particularly excited that Australia will host April’s World Congress on Public Health (@wcph2017) and Ecocity World Summit (@ecocity2017) in July, and Science in Public will be managing media for each of these. I’ll be tweeting some of the interesting and exciting things I’m learning about public health as we work on these conferences – note that my tweets from @WePublicHealth and @Ha_Tanya are my own views, and not those of Science in Public or the two conferences and their organisers.
My background also includes teaching the Human Behaviour and Environment subject at the University of Melbourne, reporting for ABC TV’s Catalyst show, a masters research project in behaviour change during the transition to motherhood, and terms on the boards of Sustainability Victoria and Keep Australia Beautiful.
…and, like all of us, I’ve got a personal interest in public health because I’m human. I’m a mother of two, the sister of a breast cancer survivor, the sister-in-law of someone who died from lung cancer, and the daughter of a physio mother and GP father (who ironically has preventable lifestyle-related illnesses). I care about the health of the planet, my friends and family, and billions of people I’ll never meet but I know they’re there, breathing, eating, living and loving in their own communities.
What I’ll be tweeting about
Given my background is such a bag of mixed lollies, I thought I’d loosely tweet on a different theme each day:
- Monday: health and environment in the media – insights from Catalyst days, how the media has changed in recent years, how to make the abstract tangible (e.g. preventative health), insights from media training scientists.
- Tuesday: public events – drawing on my experience with National Science Week (past ambassador, current publicity advisor), how public events can be used to promote public health. And I’ll be visiting my dad at his nursing home, so I’ll probably tweet about that.
- Wednesday: my insider’s guide to the World Congress on Public Health – what the big themes and speakers are, and (more broadly) how scientific conferences can broaden their reach beyond academia and hopefully have a lasting impact not heir host cities.
- Thursday: people and places, plus a bit of girl power – This is the day I’m hosting the Celebrating Women in Conservation annual breakfast, so I’ll tweet about that and what I’ve learnt from female role models in the environment movement and in science. I’ll also focus on nature, conservation, climate change, urbanism and public health: nature restoration theory and why the urban form matters.
- Friday: communication for behaviour change – lessons from both environmental and health campaigns, the psychology of behaviour change and environmental problems, how we communicate risk without harming mental health, and the importance on understanding who you’re talking to.
- Weekend at home: personal stories from my life experience.
Caterina Giorgi, co-founder of For Purpose – @purposeaus – and a self-confessed policy nerd and politics tragic who is interested in policies that address growing inequality, was in the chair. For Purpose harnesses the collective knowledge, skill base and resources of people working for Purpose. The idea behind For Purpose is simple – to overcome the mammoth social challenges that we face – we need to invest in the people working to making the world a better place.
For Purpose works in three key areas. We have a professional community, deliver professional development and provide coaching and consulting. All of this is informed by what for purpose professional want and need to be supported in their roles as change makers. For Purpose was started by Caterina Giorgi, a self-confessed policy nerd and politics tragic who is interested in policies that address growing inequality.
This week, For Purpose is holding its Annual Summer School. The Summer School covers advocacy, communication and tools for change – all important skills for change makers. We’ll be tweeting live from the Summer School from Wednesday until Friday – where you’ll hear from 20 change-makers. Across the week, we’ll also share all things social change and social policy, including what’s happening in politics (following an epic fortnight of sitting in Canberra). We’re also keen to highlight the amazing work being undertaken by organisations from across Australia.
Dr Melissa Haswell – @im4empowerment discussed and shared news on some of the intersections between climate change, the environment, public health – and love, courage and inspiration, too. A sample of her tweets follows below.
Dr George Crisp, a GP in a small family medical practice in Shenton Park in Perth, was in the chair – @DrGCrisp. He is the current WA chair and a national committee member of Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), a voluntary group who have an interest in the relationship between human health and environmental damage. Along with a GP colleague ( Dr Richard Yin ), he co-developed “Greenpractice” in 2009, an initiative to promote the awareness of climate change as a health issue in general practice and advocate the health co-benefits of taking action. George writes regularly in the local and medical media on environmental health matters. His time at @WePublicHealth coincided with Federal LNP Government Ministers passing around a lump of coal in Parliament, extreme weather conditions including bushfires in NSW and flooding in WA, and with the annual #healthpolicyvalentines Twitter thread.
Anthony Zwi, Professor of Global Health and Development at UNSW, was in the chair – @HEARDatUNSW. Professor Zwi focuses on global health and development policy and has interests in their interface with equity, social justice and human rights. He seeks to build partnership between Australia, the Asia-Pacific, and Africa and to promote capabilities in global health, development policy, and disaster planning, management and response. Read more about his work here.
Karen Wyld – @1KarenWyld – tweeted on cultural safety, food security and shared some of the news from #InvasionDay marches and rallies. An author, blogger and consultant, Karen is of Martu descent, and was born and has lived most of her life on Kaurna country in South Australia. She is the proprietor of Wyld Words bookshop in Port Noarlunga. According to her consultancy website, Karen has worked within many sectors, accumulating professional capabilities and qualifications that allow her to provide a diverse range of services. She has a background in: community development; workplace training; project management; training and assessing university students; Aboriginal health and services; and primary health care. Karen contributed to the #JustJustice book and project. Read more from Karen here.
Jason Rostant – @jrostant – has worked in a variety of policy, advocacy, management and education roles in NGO and government settings over two decades and across four states. His career has included direct service delivery in youth homelessness and suicide prevention, campaigning for Tasmanian gay law reform, policy advisory roles in several capacities, and senior executive management in community health. Previous employers have included cohealth, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association, and a minor party Senator. Now working on a consultancy basis, Jason’s specialist interests include health access and equity; rights-based practice and advocacy; models of community development, consumer-led practice and co-design; and organisational development and change management. Jason has a Bachelor of Social Work from Curtin University.