Unpacking stigma

Catherine Schofield1

1Global Nurse Leader Alumni, International Council of Nurses, Australia


It is widely acknowledged that certain groups of people in contemporary Australian society experience stigma and discrimination when accessing health services.

Stigma has been well-documented as a barrier to health-seeking behaviour, engagement in care and adherence to treatment across a range of health conditions globally.  As a result of this stigma the discrimination some experience when receiving care within health services can also limited engagement, result in resentment, disenfranchisement and poorer health outcomes.

This workshop will provide an opportunity to understand more fully the impacts of stigma and discrimination, exploring what we as nurses and midwives can do to create environments where we aspire to person centeredness by boosting our individual and collective ability to be more responsive, effective and compassionate thereby ensuring better health outcomes for the recipients of our care.

The workshop will be conducted in an experiential facilitative style to enable maximise participation, engagement and learning opportunities and has been co-designed with representatives from the Alcohol Tobacco and other Drugs Council, the Mental Health Council of Tasmania, the Migrant Resource Centre Tasmania, the Tasmania Aboriginal Health Service and Working It Out who will also assist in the facilitation of the workshop.


Ms Cat Schofield RN MN G.DipFBS

Ms Cat Schofield is currently working as a clinical advisor to the Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Tasmania.   Previous roles include Clinical Advisor to the Tasmanian Minister for Health, Manager of Tasmania’s first Forensic Mental Health Hospital. With over 40 years’ experience working in delivering health services and involvement in Practice Development since 2006 Cat is known for being a person-centred, inclusive & inspirational leader.

Drug and Alcohol Service – The Bridge Treatment and Recovery Program

The Salvation Army Bridge Treatment and Recovery service is a statewide program that provides evidenced based treatment for people experiencing problematic substance use issues.  The Bridge have a range of programs including residential and day programs, Matrix, outreach, after care and family support programs as well as psychological interventions from onsite counsellors and psychologists. The Bridge have 39 beds state-wide and provided specialised alcohol and drug interventions to over 1000 people last year.

Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre is an Aboriginal community controlled organisation established in the early 1970s to fight for the rights of Aboriginal people in Tasmania.  In 1991 the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre was funded to establish a comprehensive community controlled health service, with locations in Hobart, Burnie, Launceston & more recently Devonport & Bridgewater.
The Aboriginal Health Service offers a comprehensive and integrated primary health care service with a wide range of health programs for the Aboriginal community. Clients can access support, assessment and treatment from GPs, Aboriginal Health Workers, Nurses, Physiotherapists, Diabetes Nurse Educator, Dietician, Counsellors, Chronic Disease coordination and some specialists.  We aim to provide holistic community based culturally appropriate care.

Working it Out

Working It Out (WIO) is Tasmania’s only dedicated LGBTI support, advocacy and education service. Our mission is to create a more just society for LGBTI individuals and to do so by honouring the experience of LGBTI Tasmanians.  We deliver services state-wide to LGBTI individuals, through 1:1, peer group sessions and community events and activities. In this work we engage regularly with a wide cross-section of the LGBTI population. In addition, we provide support and training to the general community, service organisations and government, and promote and honour excellence in LGBTI inclusive service provision via our annual state-wide ‘Dorothies Award’.

Mental Health Council Tasmanian

The Mental Health Council of Tasmania (MHCT) is the peak body for community managed mental health services in Tasmania. Our work involves advocating for reform to the Tasmanian mental health system and to provide a leading voice on mental health and wellbeing in the Tasmanian community. We have a strong commitment to enabling better mental health care access and outcomes for every Tasmanian. Our purpose is to improve mental health for all Tasmanians, and our vision is for all Tasmanians to have awareness of, and value, their mental health and wellbeing.  We promote the reduction of stigma and champion mental health awareness in much of the work we do.

Migrant Resource Centre

Migrant Resource Centre Tasmania (MRC Tas) is a not-for-profit organisation that has been assisting migrants and refugees to settle in Tasmania since 1979. Our focus is on meeting the needs of migrants, humanitarian entrants and refugees through culturally inclusive services and advocacy.

Our services include support for older people, specialised settlement services, including youth work, health and wellbeing services, community development, migration support, and assistance with employment. MRC Tas also provides support services for adults and children who have fled persecution, torture and war related trauma through the Phoenix Centre. These services include counselling, natural therapies and suicide prevention activities.