“Why are you here today? What is your ‘why’? Your ‘why’ is what makes you. It is what moves you towards making a change.”
This is how Joseph Fa’afiu started his inspirational talk during the Health Equity campaign’s second learning session last week at Ko Awatea.
“I look at my children, my community, and I know my why. I look at inequity and I know my why,” said Joseph, the Health Equity campaign’s Link4Life project lead.
Born in Samoa, educated in Glen Innes and living in Mangere, Joseph is a local church pastor, community leader, storyteller, and also a New Zealander of the Year local hero and Sunpix Pacific Community Leader of the Year for his ongoing work in the community. In 2015, Joseph founded the grassroots suicide awareness and prevention movement HopeWalk which brings people together and provides the community with a voice.
His passion – his ‘why’ – is driven by painful personal experience. As a teenager he tried to take his own life and more recently also lost a close friend to suicide. “When you are in this position, you feel isolated and alone. We want to bring hope to people and make sure there are opportunities for them to feel connected. We want to build a bridge to walk people back into safety.”
In collaboration with HopeWalk, Joseph is currently leading the Link4Life project in the Health Equity campaign. Link4Life is a community-led suicide prevention movement, which aims to enable families affected by suicide in Papakura to be champions and leaders in their community on this issue. Within the Counties Manukau District there is, on average, a completed suicide once every eight days. Māori and Pasifika are considerably over represented in this data. “We want to link the community with the systems and services available to them and make sure they have their needs met,” adds Joseph.
Link4Life is starting to test their approach with five families affected by suicide in Papakura. “We are now applying the theory behind quality improvement and putting it in action. It is great to learn those tools. You get straight to the point and know exactly what you are aiming for,” says Joseph.
Health Equity campaign – Learning session two focused on helping collaborative teams apply, test and measure change ideas.
The purpose of the Health Equity campaign is to innovate and identify what works to reduce health inequities for the community of Counties Manukau by December 2020 by:
- reducing the disparity for childhood obesity/ healthy weight for children from Māori and Pacific communities in Otara – Counties Manukau (Healthy Kids workstream)
- reducing the disparity for identified health outcomes for Māori and Pacific patients and whānau in participating services in Counties Manukau (Healthy Services workstream)
- increasing the number of Māori and Pacific staff across our workforce and potential workforce to reflect the Counties Manukau community (Healthy Systems workstream)