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This month NCS has kicked off creating an online Public Health Network to assist in more collaboration and support for the South Island Public Health Workforce.

This first Public Health Network (PHN) meeting via zoom video conferencing, came about due to the South Island Public Health workforce providing feedback on how they felt isolated in the work they did and disconnected from the support of others in the field.

Working in isolation can be soul destroying for anyone trying to engage the community and get projects off the ground. It may feel like a big task when you don't have peers in the same field of work that you can bounce ideas off or collaborate.

Thank goodness for technology, it has come along way since shared telephones called party-lines where people had to deal with phone hoggers, eavesdroppers and endless ringing. Now we can talk to each other through live video. While not entirely without online hiccups either, we have a few tricks and tips to mitigate members experiencing a slow internet connection by turning off their video, and the discussion can continue without issue.

It was good to see the South Island Public Health members appear on the screen; a small group, but an excellent start to our meeting.

This gathering provided the members sharing with each other what they are doing in their perspective locations, the highs and the lows and opportunities for future planning.

The group were able to support one of the members with their first submission to the local council. Potentially this was very helpful, and the information shared provided the member with some relief and useful guidance to kick-start her through the submission process.

Based on the topic discussions NCS, where it can, will try to support by providing guest speakers to enhance discussions and support the network. Research and evaluation was a topic one of the group members wanted to discuss, and NCS had guest researcher Elizabeth Strickett to provide guidance where required based on ideas the group were considering.

On closing our meeting, it was discussed and decided that the South Island Public Health Network would continue to meet once a month and there was one stipulation that the primary focus for this meeting would be Public Health. Each member felt this was a good start and working in isolation would be a thing of the past.

NCS is looking at creating more Public Health Networks around the country if you are interested in joining a PHN send an email to: Rebecca@hapai.co.nz

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