What is your connection to Brimbank?
I am part owner and the manager of TerryWhite Chemmart in Brimbank Central Shopping Centre. I have been in this position for the past two years. During this time I’ve made it a personal mission to not only be an active member of the community, but to make a difference to the health of locals by raising awareness about health issues affecting the Brimbank community.
What do you like best about the area?
One thing I have noticed about Brimbank is the diverse nationalities. At first I found it a bit of a challenge to communicate with people who aren’t from an English-speaking background, but it’s something I’ve come to find incredibly rewarding. Multiculturalism is one of the area’s great features … there is a real sense of community and family amongst the people I’ve come across in Brimbank.
What do you think could be done to improve Brimbank?
The health of people living in Brimbank is of special interest to me. As part of my work, I hope to improve people’s understanding of chronic conditions such as diabetes and sleep apnoea, and also implementing a smoking cessation program. The latest Census data shows that the smoking rate in Brimbank is at 17.5 per cent, which is up on the state average of 13.1 per cent, while diabetes incidence is at 10.9 per cent in Brimbank compared to 8.4 per cent in other local government areas around Melbourne.
You have a direct involvement in influencing the health of many in Brimbank tell us about some of the challenges facing the area.
I see an extraordinary number of clients that have chronic health conditions, but still smoke and I’d love to see that change. I recognise that as a community pharmacist, my role is to improve people’s health and raise awareness about health conditions. One of the big challenges is a lack of education about health. Through building rapport with people in the community, we have been able to engage in various health promotion activities.
You mentioned many of your staff have been affected by breast cancer. Tell us about the impact it’s had on the store.
Our store is majority female employees and over the past two years we have had one employee diagnosed with breast cancer, one employee’s daughter diagnosed and another employee’s mother also diagnosed. All of these women have either completed or are still undergoing life-saving treatment and surgery. As a team, we decided it necessary to use our role in the community to raise more awareness about breast cancer, as early detection can save lives. October was breast cancer awareness month. All women are encouraged to check their breasts once a month and engage in the two-yearly mammograms, which are available to Australian women over 40 years of age. This breast checking is how our staff members and family members were able to identify their diagnosis and thankfully they are all still here to fight the disease.
The store recently held a morning tea and extended awareness campaign, how did it go?
It was a fantastic event. We had lots of pink food, tea and coffee, and all people in the Brimbank community were invited to join us. We raised $411.60, which went to Breast Cancer Network Australia. I cannot thank the community enough for their generosity.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I have a bucket list. Last, year I took a long bus trip across the USA. I travelled from Los Angeles to New York City and got to tick off a number of items on my list along the way.