Kishan Kariippanon MD,
A great opportunity to work in the Northern Territory was made
possible when I got my current job as Youth Health Policy officer
in the Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Unit (SHBBV), an agency
that is part of the NT's Centre for Disease Control.
The primary functions of the Youth Health Policy officer is to
network with service providers and non government agencies and
initiate grassroots participation in sexual health awareness and
promote Clinic 34 - a free and confidential sexual health service
in the NT. The SHBBV unit has a clinic in Darwin, Katherine, Alice
Springs, Tennant Creek and Nhulunbuy.
The main challenge in this role, in my opinion, is to facilitate
the engagement and increase the health seeking behaviour of youth
with sexual health services. The search for a method in sexual
health promotion brought me to social media as an already familiar
networking and information sourcing tool amongst youth. A strength
of this tool being its ability to encourage participation and allow
for 'user added value' which can possibly result in users taking
ownership of the health issues at hand.
Through the advice of my colleague and a personal friend
together with the leadership from my manager a.k.a networking, I am
learning and having input into how social media can be used to make
sexual health promotion more engaging and palatable to youth. I
conducted a mini literature review and observed different sexual
health related programs through social media and proposed to pilot
a local project. The community in the NT is quite unique and
therefore a specialised approach needs to be drawn rather than
duplicating projects from other States.
The policy from the government is still being formulated on the
'use of Web 2.0 by public servants' for work purposes. Nevertheless
the Federal 'Government's Response' to the recommendations from
"Engage: Getting on with Gov. 2.0" report will enable this process
to take practical form through guidelines and policies that will
fuel the use of Web 2.0 in the public sector and allow for better
engagement with the population.
While the above is still in process, the Menzies School of
Health Research has taken up the pilot project we proposed and
called it 'Studio 34'. This project aims to provide knowledge on
how young people can be engaged through the use of social media to
promote youth health. The project involves holding a competition on
the best rap on youth health with the support of local hip hop
artist like Kaotik, DT3 and Pott Street and promoting this through
service providers and schools. Expressions of interest from schools
in Darwin are coming in for presenters to talk about creating
content on youth health through social media, arts and music.
We hope by the end of November of 2010 we will be able to have a
sufficient body of knowledge to improve the Studio 34 project and
systematically destigmatise sexual health with the help of social