Department of Health

Victorian Public Healthcare Awards 2023

    Voice over: Ruth had always wanted a 21st Birthday party and at age 95, she finally got her wish.

    Bonnie had always dreamed of going to Paris and so aged 104 Paris was brought to Bonnie. 

    Betty got to experience a super fast hot lap of the Phillip Island Grand Prix track.

    Passionate swimmer Anne returned to the pool for swimming lessons after many decades. 

    And David who’d loved horses ever since he was a little boy, visited a thoroughbred racing farm. Despite being almost non-verbal and non-responsive, he smiled for the first time in a long time. 

    Valarie Mcrae, David’s sister: When he put his hand out and took in what was really happening affected me the most. It was good to see that he was really interested and with us.

    Voice over: This is all part of the Bucket List an initiative by the Bass Coast Health Residential Aged Care facility to give their residents the chance to do something they’d always dreamed of. 

    Natasha Stapleton, Bass Coast Health Diversional Therapist: You know these people are at the end of their lives and they’ve still got things that they want to achieve. When you’re giving them the opportunity to do something like the Bucket List initiative it helps them regain that sense of purpose and identity and it’s a way of them to share who they are with the people around them.  

    Voice over: The Bucket list is one of the many outstanding contributions to this year’s Victorian Public Healthcare awards. The Awards began almost two decades ago and throughout that time have celebrated the incredible achievements of our healthcare workers, public health services and volunteers.

    This year is no exception.

    You’ve developed projects that improve the health literacy, health access and health outcomes for our CALD communities. These health education sessions are all part of the Water Well Project which was started by a first year medical student who wanted to help migrant, refugee and asylum seeker communities to better understand our healthcare system. 

    Linny Phuong, Water Well Project Founder: Working as an intern in an emergency department I was seeing the effect of that lack of knowledge in the community translating to people ending up in hospital when they didn’t need to be and so I think for me that combination of parents being from a refugee background seeing those people similar to my parents in the emergency department and then going to hospital.

    Voice over: Linny started the Project 13 years ago and it’s now delivered more than 1400 sessions to more than 19,000 participants in 40 different languages. Health professionals cover a whole range of topics including nutrition, mental health, asthma and diabetes,… with interpreters at every session. 

    Linny Phuong, Water Well Project Founder: A lot of the communities we speak to often in their home countries would not have engaged in any sort of preventative care whether it’s cancer screening or vaccinations and so when they come to a country like Australia where we have such a big emphasis on preventative healthcare you know I think it can get lost and that message can get quite confusing so for us it’s really about making sure that everyone understands what’s available to them and making sure that they take those steps to prevent them from getting sick in the first place. 

    Voice over: As well as our CALD community, you’ve developed initiatives to help our first nations people feel more culturally safe. The Koori Maternity Service at Northern Health has created a dedicated birthing suite complete with a mural of a traditional Aboriginal birthing tree. There’s an acknowledgement of country and images of Aboriginal babies on the wall and more recently they’ve introduced possum skin baby wraps.

    Jo Quinn, Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Koori Maternity Service: Traditionally possum skin baby wraps told a story and when babies were born they were wrapped in a possum skin which were burnt and painted which told that babies story and as that baby grew to a child more possum skins would be attached and then as they became an adult they would end up with a full cloak and quite often when they passed they would be buried in that cloak. 

    Voice over: A decade ago, about three Aboriginal babies were born here each year, that number has now reached almost 150. 

    Jo Quinn: We have a Koori cuddling program as well so any aboriginal babies in the neo natal unit, we’ve got some wonderful elders who come in and cuddle the babies when mum and dad can’t be around and that’s been really popular as well. 

    Voice over: New services have been created for members of our LGBTIQA+ community including the countries first publicly funded gynaecological clinic for transgender patients. 

    Prof Sonia Grover, Head of Gynaecology, Mercy Hospital: Knowing that there are staff here who are aware and sensitive of their needs is incredibly important to them… that they don’t have to explain themselves, that they know we’re going to treat them with respect.
    Charlotte Elder, Gynaecologist, Mercy Hospital: Just seeing the look of relief on their face that they don’t have to justify being trans or explain what their medications mean or explain in detail why their journey has been how it is. 

    Voice over: Our hospitals and health services are working hard to become more environmentally sustainable. South West Healthcare have replaced a whole range of single use clinical plastic items including kidney trays, injection trays, anaesthetic packs, pill and denture cups, with 100 percent compostable alternatives made from sugar cane! And because they’re the central supply department for the whole region, they’ve had a huge impact. 

    Steph Hughes, Clinical Products Advisor, South West Healthcare: All in all we’ve diverted 1.5 million pieces of plastic from Warrnambool alone, but collectively as a group nearly 4 million in one year. 

    Elvira Hewson, Environmental Sustainability Project Officer, South West Healthcare: I think it’s such an exciting time to be in healthcare because there’s a real growing momentum and awareness of the environmental impact of delivering healthcare and agencies across Australia are innovating in all kinds of ways and working really hard to share that information. 

    Voice over: In recent years our emergency departments have been inundated and you’ve developed new ways to reduce that pressure. The Victorian Virtual Emergency Department VVED was established during the COVID pandemic and this year VVED Kids was launched. It now sees around 150 kids a day with 90 percent of them being kept out of physical EDs.

    Dr Loren Sher, VVED Director: From a parental perspective I think it’s amazing to be able to reach out to high level paediatric care and prevent that unnecessary attendance in the first place. We know it’s really stressful for families to have to get into the car and drive to the hospital when they’re worried about their children. 

    Dr Joanna Lawrence, VVED Paediatric Lead: And then they’re exposed to a lot of viruses in the waiting room, there’s a lot of anxiety and when they’re finally seen their problem can be sorted quite easily. 

    Dr Loren Sher: We can actually provide a full medical consult, we can prescribe medications, direct you to your local pharmacy, direct you to radiology or pathology if you need blood or Xray investigations so we can actually comprehensively manage that whole case. 

    Voice over: As well as designing incredible services for consumers, you’ve consulted and worked directly with them. DVP Health has spent the last year working with almost three and a half thousand local community members to create a new mental health service. And it was the voice of one lived experience participant that led to it looking just like a restaurant menu. 

    Chris Ferguson, Manager of the Lived Experience Workforce, DPV Health: We were sitting in a restaurant and people were ordering their food as we were chatting and that’s kind of where it began to really come into being which was people just saying I want a mental health service where I get to come in and I get firstly heard, but secondly I just get options. 

    Deborah Carrin, General Manager of Mental Health, DPV Health: And someone said I would just really like to be able to…I don’t know…like a menu… like if we were here I could just go I want that, that, that and that.  

    Chris Ferguson: I get to have a look and think what suits me, what works for me and just as we’re ordering food and I guess that was the sort of genesis of that idea. 

    Voice over: Our Rural Hospitals have introduced programs allowing people to receive vital treatment in their home towns, including a tele-stroke unit at Echuka Regional Health. Maryborough and Castlemaine hospitals have established Midwife Group Practice Models of Care allowing more women to receive pregnancy care and give birth locally. 

    April Jardine, Maternity Unit Manager, Dhelkaya Health Castlemaine: Having a local service that is a low risk model available in the community means the world to all of our families coming through our service. 

    Sarah Horius, Maternity patient: I think the option to be close to home is always really important. 

    Voice over: Our metro hospitals have added new skill sets to boost existing teams. Alfred Health is the first in Australia to include a pharmacist on the Medical Emergency Team to assist with administration of antimicrobials in patients with Septicaemia. 

    Erica Tong, Deputy Director of Pharmacy, Alfred Hospital: The sooner you give someone an antibiotic after being identified as having sepsis, the greater the chance of survival. The pharmacists are able to help with getting the antibiotic into patients faster because they know how quickly you can give certain antibiotics, they can help obtain the antibiotic and help draw them up and help the nurses with administration. 

    Voice over: And parents have joined the clinical team at the Royal Children’s Hospital. The oneTEAM project aims to improve the early recognition of the deteriorating child. 

    Dr Annie Moulden, Clinical Quality and Safety Lead: They know when they’re deteriorating and that’s what we as clinicians need to really understand their expertise that they bring to the table. That they must be considered part of the clinical team. 

    Voice over: You’ve successfully attempted new ways of communicating complex information to patients…. including a podcast called the Straight and Marrow for patients undergoing Allogenaic Stem Cell Transplantation. Since it began it’s had more than 10 thousand downloads worldwide.  

    Last, but certainly not least there are our volunteers who devote thousands of hours, benefiting countless individuals, purely for the love of it. 

    This is Kerry who’s mum Olive was at the first meeting to establish the Busy Fingers Auxiliary half a century ago. She now runs it with Norma who’s been the Treasurer for more than twenty years. One stitch at a time Busy Fingers has raised more than 3 million dollars for Northern Health Bundoora. 

    Norma McGrillen, Treasurer, Busy Fingers Auxiliary: I think if you’ve had a good life yourself it’s nice to give back to those who are not quite as well as I am and as lucky. I think that’s a good way to go. 

    Kerry Wall, President, Busy Fingers Auxiliary: Every little thing counts and if it makes someone’s life that little bit easier for them, that little bit better for them then that’s where we get out satisfaction. 

    Voice over: These are just a few of the wonderful stories to come out of this years Victorian Public Healthcare Awards. We’d like to say congratulations to all our 2023 finalists. 

    Thank you for your tireless efforts and dedication towards helping Victorian’s become the healthiest people in the world.

    Reviewed 16 November 2023