Raising awareness of hepatitis B while learning English

January 9, 2019

Hepatitis Victoria’s Meg Perrier and Jawid Sayed are managers of an innovative awareness raising project implemented in conjunction with the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP). The AMEP is funded by the Federal Government Department of Education and Training and holds its classes throughout Melbourne and greater Victoria.

As part of their induction into Australian life, AMEP students are supported to do up to 510 hours of English study, and many of them come from regions of the world with a high prevalence of hepatitis B.

In November/December, Meg, Jawid and their team, taught hundreds of AMEP students the facts about hepatitis B using a clear and colourful text called Living Well with Hepatitis B.

“The students who attend the AMEP are there not only to learn English, they also learn about the processes and support services we have in place in Australia, and as such they are a captive and attentive audience,” said Meg.

“We thought it would be useful to incorporate our information about hepatitis B into the course.”

Fortunately for the Hepatitis Victoria team, Living Well with Hepatitis B had already been created by Hepatitis Queensland and needed just a little tweaking before it was ‘ideal for our use,’ said Jawid.

“It is a collection of four archetypal stories written in very simple English with lots of helpful images, and from that we have also created posters, postcards and other materials which prompt the students to consult with their GP about getting vaccinated against hepatitis B.

“The feedback from the AMEP teachers and students about the resources show they are very welcome,” said Jawid.

The typical class includes information about hepatitis B and why immunisation is so important. The class focuses on how it can be spread and not spread, how it can be prevented, how to ask a doctor or nurse for vaccinations and the importance to fighting stigma against people living the virus.

To ram the message home to the students Meg and Jawid decided that where possible, the English text and visuals should be supplemented by translations into first languages.

“It is challenging to read about health terms, so the goal was for learners to have as clear and understanding as possible,” said Meg.

“We’ve been able to go into classes and work with the teachers to expand the reach of the material by having Living Well with Hepatitis B translated from English into audio files in 6 languages; Arabic, Cantonese, Dari, Mandarin, Urdu and Vietnamese.

“We will continue doing these audio translations, as it is a really good resource particularly for those with lower literacy,” she said.

Hepatitis Victoria staff, in particular Anh Nguyen, and a number of volunteers were instrumental in creating and recording the translations.

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