Volunteer of the Month- April 2016: Sarah

photo of sarah


What is your background (profession/workplace/training)?

I’ve been an intern and resident at Royal Melbourne Hospital. This year I’m excited to be having a bit of an adventure and a change of scenery, and will be going to Timor-Leste to do some project work in infectious diseases.


What inspired you to become a WWP volunteer?

I think playing a role in improving health literacy is so important as a doctor. In particular for refugee and asylum seekers coming to Australia who are not familiar with the health care system, and who are from countries where health education has not been as much a part of their upbringing as we are often fortunate to have here. I was really excited when I heard about the Water Well Project as an opportunity to help share health information with these communities in a friendly, informal setting. I see the sessions as such a wonderful way to empower these individuals to make more informed choices about their health, and to feel safer and more confident with our health system.

Can you share one of your favourite sessions or moments?

A great moment for me was when the Tamil women’s group all eagerly pitched in to give a great little summary to one of the women who arrived late, of the information she had missed from earlier in the session. Their enthusiasm to teach each other really highlighted for me that by delivering these sessions you initiate a chain of information and knowledge not only for the immediate group, but which will hopefully be further shared amongst their family and friends and more broadly within their community.

What tips do you have for new volunteers?

Try to make your sessions as interactive as possible. Some group members may be a little shy or reluctant to ask or answer questions to begin with, however as the session unfolds there are interesting and valuable contributions made and stories shared, great group discussions and usually laughter!

I have found that it is important to be prepared to be flexible with how you deliver your session. You never know in which direction the topic will be taken – it’s often not the way you planned it! The dynamic of the group can also vary quite a lot depending on the number attending, nearby distractions, the level of knowledge and understanding, and how engaged the group becomes etc.

Most importantly, enjoy this great opportunity to get to work with fellow volunteers, and to meet the wonderful individuals in each group, who attend with such warmth, interest and appreciation.