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Jesusa Helaratne

Jesusa Helaratne was born in the Philippines, grew up in Papua New Guinea, studied and worked in Manila and now lives in NSW working as the Media Manager for the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service.

This is her story.

I have always known since I was a young girl that my role in life is to be a storyteller. This is the reason why I followed the path of being a television and radio broadcast journalist to tell the stories of people and events that will help pave the way to improve lives across the global community.

For over 13 years I worked as a journalist with news organisations such as CNN, SBS, ARD German TV, ABS-CBN News Channel and other major broadcast television and ethnic radio stations gaining specialised training in Australia, Philippines, Southeast Asia and the United States of America.

I initially joined the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service (MHCS) in 2005 to work on communication campaigns while also working with SBS as a radio broadcaster.

I loved the adrenalin of working multicultural media campaigns to spread key health messages to multicultural communities by showcasing inspiring stories of people with lived experiences combining innovative arts and health initiatives to target language groups more effectively.

I am so proud of my multicultural background. Be proud of your cultural heritage. I believe it is so important to embrace diversity.

13 years on, I am still happily working passionately with the MHCS team on award-winning health projects targeting culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) groups; focused on issues such as breast cancer, tobacco, drug and alcohol prevention and organ and tissue donation.

The biggest challenge in our work is to ensure people understand that there is a need to tailor campaigns, projects, resources, services etc. for targeted language groups and multicultural communities.

We need to continue to support the health communication needs of CALD groups. In particular, newly arrived migrants and refugees who are new to the country and struggling to navigate the system.

It is wonderful that many organisations and services are now catering to the linguistic and cultural needs of diverse communities in Australia.

If you want your voice to be heard, then be open to listen to the voices of others.

MHCS is so happy that we are able to combine arts and health in delivering key health messages to the CALD groups. We believe that we need to continue to think outside the box, be creative and innovative in running social marketing and communication campaigns.

Be creative and artistic – mix tradition with innovation. Combining tradition and innovation can create magical results.

I love working with the MHCS team because everyone is so passionate and creative in advocating for a healthier and happier multicultural society.

MHCS is about to launch our new strategic plan for the next 5 years and we are excited to continue on our path,  listen to the needs of multicultural communities to drive positive change for the delivery of culturally and linguistically appropriate resources and services.

My role as a storyteller is to ensure that stories of individuals and their health experiences are shared to the community so as to inspire even more people to take the rights steps to live happy and healthy lives.