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Staying Moving, Staying Strong Project

Arthritis & Osteoporosis WA (AOWA) are excited to announce that we have recently completed a project that we are incredibly proud of;  The Staying Moving, Staying Strong (SMSS) project aimed to develop arthritis information resources that are suitable for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

We completed the project in November 2023, marked by the launch of the information resources.

I interviewed Jennifer Persaud, from JP Consulting, who was the Project Manager for the SMSS project.  I met Jennifer in one of the wonderful cafes around Perth, which provided a relaxed environment for a yarn about the project. 

Jennifer Persaud from JP Consulting

Why are the resources needed?

As we settled into our conversation over a coffee, I asked Jennifer to explain why the development of the information resources was needed.  I was curious to understand this because AOWA already has a wide library of educational resources to assist people who live with arthritis, and I wanted to know why resources from the SMSS project are different and important. Jennifer responded with great enthusiasm, demonstrating a clear passion for the project and improving Aboriginal people’s health outcomes. 

Here’s what she said:

“Well, we know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to experience chronic conditions, including arthritis, but there seemed to be a real lack of culturally appropriate arthritis information resources to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  So AOWA and the project partners worked together to use a culturally appropriate research approach to develop a suite of resources to bridge this gap”.

What is a culturally appropriate research approach?

My interest was piqued, and I wanted to know more about the culturally appropriate research approach.  Jennifer explained that AOWA partnered with a group of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers with expertise in arthritis and Aboriginal health, and they sought advice from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with arthritis. 

The research team used scientific methods to extract evidence-based recommendations from the arthritis health literature, and they also conducted interviews with Aboriginal people living with arthritis.  The outputs from the two methods were combined, and the result is the development of co-designed information resources that are informed by scientific evidence and Aboriginal community members’ advice and recommendations. 

Whilst the research approach is summarised in this article, it was a long journey from start to finish and the final information resources are the culmination of three years of work.

The result is the development of co-designed information resources that are informed by scientific evidence and Aboriginal community members’ advice and recommendations.”

What exactly are the information resources?

I learned that the project team focused on developing information resources for four arthritis conditions: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout and lupus.  I asked Jennifer what format the information resources will be available in.  She explained that the resources will be a combination of educational videos and brochures.

Aboriginal Creative Talent

Jennifer is also an experienced Advanced Scope Physiotherapist, and as she spoke about the SMSS project, her interest in improving health outcomes was clear. With great energy and excitement, she told me more about the information resources.

“The videos feature the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live with arthritis. Their stories are incredibly rich, and the ‘video stars’ speak about the impact of arthritis on their life and the treatment and strategies they use to live well with their condition.  The videographers have captured some amazing footage of people talking about arthritis whilst carrying out their daily activities and encouraging others who live with arthritis”. 

Jennifer went on to speak about the brochures.

“We also developed arthritis information brochures for the same four conditions.  Like the videos, they are packed with information about arthritis and helpful tips for managing the condition.  The brochures are absolutely beautiful – the artwork is stunning and meaningful”. 

I have seen the brochures, and Jennifer is absolutely right – they are visually appealing indeed.  Jennifer explained that two Aboriginal artists provided the artwork: Thomas Marks from ‘The Torch Project’ in Victoria and Nicole Dickerson from ‘Yamaji Art Centre’ in WA. 

Thomas’ artwork in the brochures uses a combination of vibrant colours and features the outline of limbs as a reference to arthritis. Nicole’s artwork uses beautiful blues and white hues and is poetic and symbolic.

The videos and brochures have been carefully put together for maximal visual impact by Tim Buckley, a talented Aboriginal artist and graphic designer from Rareland Creative Studios.

How will the resources be used?

Now that the project is complete and the resources are launched, I wondered what Jennifer’s hopes are for the utilisation of the brochures and videos.  I put this question to her, and she responded with the following:

“The brochures and the videos are accessible online, and printed brochures have been distributed to Aboriginal Medical Services across Australia.  I hope that the fruits of this amazing project will bring a positive impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live with arthritis.  I hope they will connect with the stories and information provided through these culturally appropriate information resources.  I also hope that they find the information helpful to optimise their well-being as they learn about their condition and understand that you can live well with arthritis”.

And that seemed a very fitting note to end the interview. 

AOWA would like to thank all the partners and contributors to the SMSS project: Aboriginal community members, the University of Western Australia (WACRH), the University of Melbourne, Griffith University, Curtin University, the University of Sydney and, of course, Jennifer Persaud.

This project was funded by the Australian Government through a grant administered by Arthritis Australia (GA76063).

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