Health Equity Awards 2023

Adelaide PHN’s inaugural 2023 Health Equity Awards was held on Friday, 18 August at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

This year, the primary focus of the evening was health equity, and the night celebrated our commissioned service provider's health equity focus in delivering health outcomes in metropolitan Adelaide.



Our MC, Caroline Winter, an award-winning journalist, producer, and presenter, welcomed our commissioned primary health care providers, advisory councils, Board, and staff to the event.

Jack Buckskin from Kuma Kaaru delivered the Welcome to Country with a performance on the didgeridoo.

The White Tree entertained the crowd with their music, bringing people to the dance floors. 

Adelaide PHN Chair of Board Tom Symonds launched the 2023-2026 Strategic Plan on the night and talked about the four focus areas. You can learn more about our Strategic Plan by visiting Adelaide PHN's Strategic Plan.

The event further saw OzHarvest City Manager, Rachel Hibble deliver a thought provoking presentation on food waste. 

Our centrepieces for the evening were conceptualised and crafted by Miss MYSA Events - a boutique event styling and management service wholly owned by Multicultural Youth SA (MYSA).

These were donated to OzHarvest post- event for providing nutritious meals to those in need. 

The Health Equity Awards showcased five winning programs and were awarded trophies by our CEO, Michelle McKay. The trophies, handcrafted by Aboriginal Steel Art (ASA) represent the award recipients’ leadership focus on ensuring health equity for vulnerable populations of metropolitan Adelaide. 

The award recipients for the 2023 Health Equity Awards are as per below:

  1. Mission Australia: Drug and Alcohol Youth Outreach Service (DAYOS)
  2. Sonder: Safe Haven
  3. headspace Port Adelaide: Queer Quest
  4. Pop-Up Health: Vulnerable Population COVID-19 Vaccination Service
  5. ARA and STTARS: Adelaide Refugee and New Arrival Program (ARANAP)

It was a great night connecting with staff, partners, and council members and celebrating the fantastic achievements of our service providers.

Our Award Process

The Health Equity Awards 2023 recognised five outstanding programs that improved health equity and access for vulnerable communities in the Adelaide metropolitan region. The awards were open to all Adelaide PHN commissioned service providers, partners and general practices or part of our Advisory Councils’ activities.

The applicants submitted a case study as part of their application process, which answered the below questions.

  1. What is the equity issue, and how have you approached this? 
  2. How has your health equity initiative improved the lives and health of your patients/clients?
  3. How does the initiative demonstrate organisation leadership and commitment of your health service to health equity? 
  4. Describe your next steps towards building further organisational capability in advancing health equity.

The 2023 Award Recipients

Adelaide PHN commissioned Mission Australia to deliver the Drug and Alcohol Youth Outreach Service (DAYOS).

DAYOS provides treatment intervention for young people aged 10-25 years with mild to moderate substance use issues who want to make changes to their drug and alcohol use, improve their health and wellbeing and learn the skills to achieve independence. 

Two initiatives within this program are Adelaide Youth Training Centre - Kurlana Tapa and After-Hours Service and Online SMART Recovery Group.

The team at Kurlana Tapa recognised the need to establish trust and connection with the participants. To do this, they redeveloped programs, incorporating game-based elements like modified Snakes and Ladders and Operation games. These interactive activities helped bridge the communication gap, stimulate conversations, and made the sessions engaging and informative.

Another initiative - The After-Hours Service and Online SMART Recovery Group was introduced to support those who faced difficulties accessing support during standard working hours.  This initiative was aimed at respecting the clients’ commitments and providing them with support when they needed it the most.

Through their initiatives, Mission Australia demonstrated their drive to address the health inequities existing within the communities that they served.


Safe Haven, delivered by Sonder is a drop-in mental health service, operating in the northern suburb of Salisbury.

Safe Haven is a collaboration between Northern Adelaide Mental Health Alliance, Northern Adelaide Local Health Network, Adelaide PHN and Lived Experience Leadership and Advocacy Network.  

The collaborative effort has resulted in the creation of an innovative service that offers individuals experiencing distress a quiet and calm alternative to presenting at an emergency department.

Guests don’t require a referral or appointment and can spend time speaking with a trained peer practitioner, Tuesday – Friday from 5 pm to 9 pm.

In terms of impact, 14 % of those coming to Safe Haven report that they would have attended an Emergency Department if Safe Haven was not available.


Transgender and gender-diverse people are searching for social connections and need an opportunity to do this in safe and supported spaces. 

headspace Port Adelaide offers Queer Quest - an open, ongoing, social support group for young people aged 12 to 17 who identify as LGBTIQA+SB or as allies of this community. 

Queer Quest is held weekly, one fortnight is activities, and the other fortnight is Dungeons & Dragons co-facilitated by Adelaide Queer Gamers.

Due to an increase in demand, Queer Quest has moved to a bigger space and is run from The Brocas at St Clair, every Wednesday from 3-6pm.

Young people can drop in to hang out with new friends, play board games or switch games, or do their own activities.

To further improve the Queer Quest Groups, headspace Port Adelaide regularly conducts quality improvement activities and surveys that include young people, their families and friends.  

To date, 100% of all young people surveyed reported an improvement in their wellbeing and experienced less social isolation.


Vulnerable populations (migrant community, First Nations, the homeless, aged and disabled populations) have lower vaccination rates than the general population, this is largely due to their engagement drivers being different. 

Pop-Up Health addressed this by reaching out and providing access to vaccination in an environment where this population is comfortable and during times that are convenient for them. 

There was also a huge focus on people who are housebound and have difficulty in accessing vaccinations, with Pop-Up Health administering more than 600 vaccinations to this cohort.

Working with Vinnies SA, Pop-Up Health established regular vaccination clinics alongside Fred's vans across the metropolitan areas. This was an incredibly successful service, which improved the COVID-19 vaccination rate among the SA homeless population, another group who have minimal access to vaccination.  

Since the commencement of the initiative in August 2022, Pop-Up Health have administered over 3000 COVID-19 vaccinations to the vulnerable population of Adelaide.


Low levels of health literacy, language barriers and inability to navigate the Australian health care system result in poor health outcomes for migrants and refugee communities.

Adelaide Refugee and New Arrival Program (ARANAP) delivered by the Australian Refugee Association (ARA) and Survivors of Torture and Trauma Assistance and Rehabilitation Service (STTARS) has been a great success in providing support to refugees to advocate for their health needs in the Australian public health system. 

Through ARANAP, ARA and STTARS work with clients to identify their health needs and prepare support plans. They empower them to be part of the decision-making process by assisting them to voice concerns with their GPs. 

ARANAP advocates for professional interpreters at health appointments so clients can understand their health conditions and treatment options. 

Bicultural workers (BCW) from ARA support clients by providing culturally sensitive health literacy and health prevention information while Refugee Nurses (RN) from STTARS advocate for investigations and improved communication between health care providers to ensure timely intervention and appropriate referrals. 

The program is hugely successful and has generated great feedback from the community since it was commissioned in 2017.


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