Strong leadership building strong communities: The many masks of resilience

A report on Valerie Nicholson’s presentation “Strong leadership building strong communities: The many masks of resilience”.         

A very interesting first day at the 2018 Australasian conference in Sydney. I was moved by the words of Valerie Nicholson, Chair of the Board of Directors Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network. Her talk highlighted the effects of colonisation on first peoples throughout the world. The experiences of the Canadian first peoples echoes that of Australia’s first people. Canada has seen a rise in the incidence of HIV among its First Nation people, especially in regional areas. Now we are beginning to see a similar trend in Australia especially in northern Queensland.

As I reflect on the experiences Valerie presented and on the resilience of her people in the face of HIV and the rise in HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the northern parts of Queensland, I acknowledge the importance of working with community. That solutions to issues such as how to increase rates of testing; how to increase knowledge; and how to increase uptake of TasP need holistic, culturally safe and appropriate practice. These solutions must come from within the community itself. As clinicians we are just tools that may be used if required, but just as important is the reconnection of people with culture.

I reflected on Valerie’s words throughout the day when listening to many other speakers in further sessions that I attended during the day on topics such as peer navigators and HIV prevention initiatives in Australia. So much great work being done in this space.

Author bio:

 I am a clinical nurse with 30 years experience. I have over 10 years experience in sexual and reproductive health. I hold a Masters in Advanced Practice (sexual health).  I have extensive experience working in remote communities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Currently I work at Cairns Sexual Health. I wear two hats at Cairns Sexual health. I work as part of an outreach service team and additionally do some hours as Research Co-ordinator.