Emotion boils over at community forum

Almost 100 people attended the HIC community forum “Are your COVID-19 concerns being heard?” held on Thursday 27th August, with another 39 unavailable to attend but registering their interest.

The Forum was opened by HIC CEO, Danny Vadasz, who spoke about the lessons learnt during the HIV/AIDS epidemic where partnerships empowering community led responses were key to building support for infection prevention measures and identifying barriers to compliance. He reflected that these lessons appear to have been forgotten. Danny then introduced Nina Fromhold, Head of Community Engagement, DHHS who spoke about the remit of her newly created office.

Following these introductory remarks, participants were invited to make general or specific statements on behalf of their organisations/communities regarding their experiences dealing with government during and about the COVID-19 pandemic response. This report is a compilation of the comments that contributed to the discussion.

Loss of trust and social licence

Attendees variously expressed bemusement, exasperation, despondency and anger at the lack of community engagement by the state government throughout the pandemic response despite their own best efforts to initiate dialogue. Examples were given of unreturned phone calls,  unacknowledged emails and the cancellation of pre-existing community engagement channels such as advisory committees.

Click here to read the full report: Are You Being Heard Report