Group 17

Inclusive Health Symposium 2018


The inaugural SVHA Inclusive Health Symposium in Melbourne in 2018 showed the extraordinary capabilities of the people in our organisation and the strength of our mission.

We started the Symposium with Dan Fleming telling the story of a blind man calling out to Jesus – a story of about bringing extraordinary capabilities to help a vulnerable person, with humility and a commitment to listen and hear.

From John Willis we heard how the Inclusive Health Program took on structure and form over its first three years, and what he’d learned from a recent US study trip about the opportunity for the program to take an even more systematic approach to promoting wellbeing.

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This theme was picked up by Julie Dixon who reflected on her own experiences developing and implementing the equity strategy for the South East Sydney Local Health District. In Lisa McDonald’s words, this was an invitation to think differently – beyond individuals alone and illness, and towards community and wellness as a frame for action. 

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Carrie Lethborg shared learnings from the first three years of the Inclusive Health program. As Lisa McDonald said in her reflections at the end of the day, Carrie’s presentation raised up the point that engagement and warm referrals aren’t just ‘soft skills’ – they help change lives. This is part of our commitment to supporting people in flourishing. 

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Vijaya Sundararajan showed us how careful investigation of our own hospitals’ data could make visible the experiences and needs of vulnerable people, and through that visibility help enhance our services and our advocacy. 

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This helped set the scene for Abbie Clark’s call to action to go beyond providing good services to people who are vulnerable, to also see and seek to change the big picture through advocacy. 

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In the panel discussion at the centre of the program we heard about seven diverse Inclusive Health projects – a snapshot of some of the exciting work led by St Vincent’s staff over the first three years of the program. The panel exemplified the idea of service with which we began the day – extraordinary capabilities combined with a commitment to humility and listening. The vibrant interactive sessions of the program showed again those extraordinary capabilities and did some serious work that will help shape the overarching direction of the program and helped develop some specific projects to take forward. 

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Summing up the day, Lisa McDonald reflected that alongside our tradition of commitment to service of people who are poor and vulnerable is a tradition of innovation. As Lisa said,

“If someone tells you the mission is not alive, they are wrong, don’t believe them. If someone tells you the mission is not like it used to be, to that I say… they are right! Thank God for that. The way that mission was done in the past was beautiful for its time. Our obligation is to read the signs of our own times and respond accordingly.”

That’s our ongoing work, and you make it possible.

Better and fairer care. Always.

In a rapidly transforming world, St Vincent's has created a refreshed vision and strategy to help shape Australia's health and aged care future.