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Codesign and community outreach to create COVID-19 safe communities: A Karen community case study

journal contribution
posted on 2023-07-31, 02:02 authored by Hilary Davis, Shandell ElmerShandell Elmer, Kaye Graves, Caitlin Learmonth
During the COVID-19 pandemic, government directives for health and community services focused on building capacity for COVID-19 safe behaviors. During 2020-2021, there was mounting pressure to increase vaccination numbers to boost population-wide immunity, thereby enabling the lessening of pandemic response restrictions. The Australian population, in general, faced communication hurdles in understanding COVID-19, government directives and policies, and health initiatives. This was particularly challenging given the rapid changes in disease behaviors and community response requirements. This community case study documents local experience in delivering information about COVID-19 safety and vaccination to a former refugee community (the Karen community) in regional Victoria. Community outreach and codesign approaches established closer engagement between the Karen community and Bendigo Community Health Services (BCHS). This case study is explored through semi-structured interviews conducted face-to-face and via videoconferencing with key Karen community leaders, Karen community members, vaccination clinic volunteers, and BCHS staff and bicultural workers. A hybrid approach that employed community outreach and codesign approaches in tandem built trust and closer ties between the Karen community and BCHS, leading to increased understanding and compliance with COVID-19 safe messages and vaccination uptake. Community-led innovations included codesign of COVID-19 fact sheets and videos in the Karen language, involvement of "local champions," assisting Karen businesses with COVID-19 safe plans, and creation of a COVID-19 information hotline. The latter was facilitated by BCHS bicultural staff. These innovations supported the delivery of vaccination clinics at the local Karen Temple. Embedding multi-level, tailored, and responsive public health approaches is particularly important in complex settings where there are disproportionately high levels of community disadvantage, as occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

History

Sub-type

  • Article

Publication title

FRONTIERS IN PUBLIC HEALTH

Medium

Electronic-eCollection

Volume

11

Article number

ARTN 1081767

Pagination

8

eISSN

2296-2565

ISSN

2296-2565

Department/School

Medicine, Nursing, Office of the Faculty of Education

Publisher

FRONTIERS MEDIA SA

Publication status

  • Published

Place of publication

Switzerland

Event Venue

The Centre for Social Impact, Faculty of Business and Law, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Rights statement

Copyright © 2023 Davis, Elmer, Graves and Learmonth. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY)

UN Sustainable Development Goals

3 Good Health and Well Being