National Hepatitis B Strategy 2010–2013

6.1 Building partnerships and strengthening community action

Page last updated: July 2010

Effective implementation of this strategy depends on engaging the communities most affected by hepatitis B. An effective national response recognises the need for collaboration between these communities and all levels of government as well as between community-based organisations and the medical, healthcare, research and scientific communities at local, state, territory and national levels.

Epidemiological information reveals great diversity in the population groups in communities at higher risk of transmission of hepatitis B and the effects of chronic hepatitis B infection. Social exclusion and isolation affect the health status of people from CALD backgrounds, some of whom are also coping with other social hardships. Language differences and cultural health beliefs and practices influence health literacy, including access to health services.

CALD communities may also have different understandings of liver disease, including the transmission of viruses, which operate outside of the paradigm of western medicine. This fundamentally affects their health literacy and their willingness or ability to access medical care. Providing education and information about hepatitis B using culturally appropriate methods is therefore necessary.

In most states or territories (jurisdictions), partnership forums—including ministerial or departmental advisory structures—advise key stakeholders on BBVs such as HIV and hepatitis C. This partnership approach acknowledges collaboration across whole-of-government, including with health, immigration, justice, housing, welfare, income support, education and community service agencies.

General practitioners providing care to the CALD communities most at risk of chronic hepatitis B are a link to targeted health promotion interventions. Engaging with these health service providers and their representative bodies is crucial to a nationally coordinated response.

Chronic hepatitis B is a complex issue and, as a result, organisations already involved in national responses to BBVs require support to develop their expertise in hepatitis B and the culturally-based issues affecting responses to the virus.

Priority actions around building partnerships and strengthening community action

  • Increase access to clinical services.
  • Map and identify partners to be included in local, state, territory and national responses to chronic hepatitis B.
  • Develop partnerships between BBV committees and organisations representing communities most at risk of chronic hepatitis B infection at local, state and territory, and national levels
  • Support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations to develop their capacity and expertise in hepatitis B.
  • Develop health promotion interventions for people with chronic hepatitis B and their families to:
    • build health literacy
    • create supportive environments in which it is safe to disclose infection
    • support their clinical and non-clinical needs.