A few of our brightest health promotion heroes were recognised at the Australian Health Promotion Association® (WA Branch) Awards last night.
The annual awards recognise commitment and innovation in health promotion practice by individuals and organisations within WA.
Our Make Smoking History Policy and Research Coordinator Fiona Phillips (pictured above, centre, with Kelly Kennington and Lorena Chapman), won the prestigious Leadership in Health Promotion (Individual) award.
"Fiona exemplifies the skills and qualities most needed in health promotion leadership. She is passionate about disease prevention, she is proactive in nurturing collaborations with other organisations and sectors, and she is forward thinking and strategic both within Cancer Council WA, and in her interactions in wider public health or policy forums.
Fiona has been working behind the scenes in tobacco control for over 15 years in Western Australia, and many of the strong policy positions and advances made by the NGO sector during this time have been a success due to the solid, evidence based research that Fiona has either commissioned for specific policy translation purposes, synthesised into hard hitting briefing documents, or eloquently framed for those representing the organisation in the media.
Fiona is a key policy advisor to senior decision makers in Western Australia, and also regularly called upon by national experts who require quick, accurate and trusted briefing on tobacco policy issues.
She's recently led a national consortium of researchers and policy advisers across Australia to create and effective and coordinated approach to reducing tobacco availability. This project has been a catalyst for the untapped issue of tobacco availability to be elevated as a key, urgent priority for tobacco control at a national and state level, and as a result of her contribution, we've been able to develop tangible, achievable strategies for reform that are supported by a solid evidence base. Importantly, because of her meticulous and careful planning, this research has also been designed to counter the predicted strong opposition and lobbying that will come from industry. Fiona's leadership, professionalism and contribution to the research in this area has been recognised by tobacco control experts who have provided statements below in support of this nomination.
Fiona's leadership and contribution to health promotion inspires those around her. It is the unassuming 'doers' like Fiona in our profession who need more recognition, as they are the foundation on which the success and culture of all organisation are built."
Our SunSmart team were deserving finalists in the Excellence in Health Promotion Practice (Organisation or Team) category for their UV meter program.
"The UV meter story is testament to the incredible contribution to health promotion that a small team can make with a minimal budget.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer to affect Western Australians and it's the most preventable. With this in mind the SunSmart team identified the UV meter as an innovative product that educates and encourages people to protect themselves from UV radiation, the major cause of skin cancer.
While there are a number of personal UV monitoring solutions available, it was identified that there was no unit available with a large display that could display a highly reading visible in an environment such as a school playground or public outdoor venue.
This led our SunSmart team to design a UV meter as a tool that provides an accurate reading of solar UV radiation for a given location coupled with a large display. In August 2013, funded by the City of Melville, the first UV meter was installed at Deep Water Point, housed in a striking art piece designed by renowned WA artist Tony Jones.
After the success of the Deep Water Point UV meter, St Hilda's Anglican Girls School installed a UV meter for their school, and a meter was also installed on the Surfing WA Headquarters at Trigg Beach.
Before going into full production, SunSmart refined the design to include internet connectivity. This innovation allows for the recording and tracking of real time data online which is visible to the general public via a website.
Data from each meter is collected and displayed online providing an excellent source of UV information. For example, schools can use the daily UV trend data for maths lessons, weather studies and in the planning of outdoor events.
No routine maintenance of the UV meter is required beyond basic cleaning, which adds to the sustainability and cost-effectiveness of the innovation.
The health promotion opportunities for this innovation are enormous. Childhood and adolescence are critical periods during which exposure to UV radiation is more likely to contribute to skin cancer later in life. A study found that UV exposure during the first 18 years of a person's life was the most critical risk factor of skin cancer. In young people aged 12-24 years in Australia, melanoma is the most common cancer, with more than double the number of cases of any other kind of cancer.
Research on primary school aged children's UV radiation exposure has shown that exposure is generally higher on weekdays than during the weekend. Physical education, athletics and lunch breaks are associated with high UV radiation exposure. This confirms the need for robust sun protection in the school setting, and growing installation of UV meters across WA, Australian and international schools and venues has the potential for great public health benefit.
UV meters have been installed in over 30 locations across WA and also sold across Australia and overseas. They are hailed by skin cancer experts across Australia as having enormous potential as an effective public education tool, and our SunSmart team is nationally leading efforts in this area. A study planned for 2019 with Australia's leading researchers in this area will aim to quantify the impact this innovation could have in secondary schools.
SunSmart has been able to design, develop and implement an ground breaking and cost-effective innovation that has received national attention from our most respected experts in this area.
In 2018, it is alarming that skin cancer prevention is not getting the attention and funding it deserves and warrants. In a country with the world's highest skin cancer rates, the importance of funding cost-effective programs such as the work of the SunSmart, this team should be a priority. The SunSmart team should be acknowledged and applauded for their tenacity, commitment, creativity and evidence based approach to health promotion."
Kelly Kennington was a worthy finalist in the Outstanding Mentor in Health Promotion (Individual) category.
"Kelly has been and continues to be a mentor to countless emerging and established health promotion practitioners. She is an inspiring leader who supports the growth and development of others, nurturing them until they find the confidence in themselves. Kelly is always willing to take a chance on the unknown and welcomes a challenge. She inspires others through her practice and creates opportunities for others to grow and develop new skills.
Kelly has had a diverse and rewarding career in health promotion both in Australia and overseas, however as a woman her career has often taken a back seat to her personal life, which has meant that she's missed out on opportunities to move forward in her career. Despite this, she makes the most of every opportunity and position. Kelly is a leader in tobacco control. Her experience and expertise range from public education campaigns, policy, advocacy, research and more. Kelly is a strategic-thinker who is always looking at the bigger picture. Throughout her time at Cancer Council WA she has led a number of cancer control advocacy initiatives at both a state and national level. Whilst her experience and skills are enviable, it is her 'can-do' attitude, unrelenting humour, and dynamic personality that makes every day spent in the office with her enjoyable.
Kelly has been involved with AHPA throughout her career. She has been a WA Branch committee member and encourages others to become engaged as well. She is always willing to listen and provide advice when needed."
Congratulations to Fiona, the SunSmart team (Mark Strickland, Sally Blane, Carolyn Minto and Hayley Staples), and Kelly!