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Health equity for diverse communities

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Health equity for diverse communities

Meet Alex Potter, the new Operations manager for Diversity and Consumer Inclusion at Western Health.

Tell us a little bit about your career highlights to date. 

I have worked at Western Health for 15 years in a variety of clinical and leadership roles within allied health and the subacute and aged care divisions. What has kept me at WH is the opportunity for career growth and the ‘Western’ way, which I find to be very person centred and fits with my values around health equity.

Congratulations on your new appointment. How would describe your new role to someone you met for the first time?

Oversight of WH diversity portfolios including disability, LGBTIQ and more broadly for general consumer engagement.

Is your role focused on making WH a more diverse and inclusive workplace, or does this extend to patients and their families?

Yes, both for staff and consumers as generally speaking the requirements are very similar – it’s about having a person first approach regardless of background, identity and role.

What does a diverse and inclusive workplace look like?

WH already has a demonstrated commitment to celebrating diversity, we see that in our very successful Wilim Berrbang; great engagement in days like IDAHOBIT recently, and our strong multicultural representation and recognition. We need to build on this foundation to look at opportunities to best support all diverse communities to achieve equity in health.

Can you give me some examples of the sorts of changes we could make, or have made to ensure our services are responsive to the needs of our patients and their families?

My biggest focus will be around ensuring our community are well supported with liaison teams, such as the Disability liaison team, as it is teams like these that can work towards improving health equity specific to the needs of the diverse communities they support. As well as ensuring we have well embedded liaison services for all of our diverse community groups, we also need to focus on the intersectional needs of people..

How will you measure your success?

The level of engagement from staff and consumers will be a strong indicator of whether we are enabling inclusion. A lot of change will be driven by stakeholder engagement and co-design of programs and services to ensure we remove system barriers that reinforce health inequity, and so continuous feedback throughout these processes will help us to measure our success.

What are the biggest challenges to achieving your goals?

Broadly speaking; awareness, because generally I find that it is when people become aware of the needs of others to be accepted and included, that an inclusive environment occurs.

How does mental health and wellbeing intersect with diversity and inclusion?

Rates of mental illness, suicide and social disadvantage in diverse communities are far greater than their less diverse counterparts, so the intersection is unfortunately that you are at higher risk if you more diverse.

If there was one thing, that someone reading this could do to help create a more diverse and inclusive workplace and health service, what would it be?

Just ask people what is important to them, whether that be about gender identity, access and inclusion needs or their cultural identity.

Finally, what motivates you Alex? 

I really feel passionately about equity in community, not just health care. I am excited that I now have a role that will allow me to do my bit in terms of health equity for our community at WH, and I’m keen to see how far we as an organisation can push this to become a leader in our field.