Khadija Gbla: Refugee and Women’s Health Advocate

[Music plays] (Khadija Gbla) I was born in Sierra Leone, West of Africa. My mum and sister and I came to Australia as refugees in 2001 because we had a civil war that lasted from more than 30 years in Sierra Leone. Coming to Australia we gained safety. I am quite a passionate advocate and activist and to me, having come to Australia and given this second chance of life, I needed to embrace it. But also, I felt like I needed to give back to my new home. You know, you don’t feel like you belong unless you actually actively try to belong. So, part of my need to belong and feel part of the Australian community was me volunteering, sort of just getting involved in local community groups and sort of seeing what the issues were, how can I be part of this solution, how could I be part of making the change I wanted to see. So, you can see I’m the sort of person who likes to take charge which is why I signed up to My Health Record in the first place, taking charge of my health and my health information. Then I also now work in the health space, around women’s health and really the importance of making sure that you know, we provide appropriate care to people affected by a whole range of issues where especially there are multicultural communities. I feel like for vulnerable communities, like multicultural communities, it’s even more important that we understand what the benefits that My Health Record would give us. Language is a barrier but with My Health Record, we their kids are able to support them. We’re able to take charge of their health and support, not only support them in accessing proper care, but support them in actually having the information that’s relevant enough to help them out. There’s already a lot of vulnerabilities but this would actually reduce it and I think that’s a win for all communities. People have assumptions about people who look different from them. And my aim has always been to be like that bridge in the middle where I bring people together and say “I know we’re different but what can we do together, like what do we have in common?”. Then at the one given time I might have volunteered for ten different organisations. I sort of fitted that in with school, while I was in high school and then when I went to university. And I think I just realised that if I wanted to see the change I wanted I needed to actually be part of the change. [Music plays]

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