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"Life Stories" - Adolescence and Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Our life stories will change the public perspective and understanding of life as an adolescent with atopic dermatitis.

Photo of Melanie Funk
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Please elaborate on your proposed solution to the challenge in no more than 300 words.

 “Life Stories” will promote awareness and understanding for our atopic eczema community in Australia and beyond. A series of videos and articles through interviews and story writing will be collated from existing and new adolesent ESA members, then distributed through our website, social media and the wider media outlets. We have already had success in spreading our introductory stories through, Mumma, local newspapers and various subsidiaries of these news outlets. We need to do more. We need the community to understand the real impact of atopic dermatitis - especially for our adolescent members. This, in turn, will reduce bullying and the associated stigma of atopic dermatitis and provide real support. How? Connect those affected for mutual support, Connect those affected with support services such as psychologists. Connect those affected with appropriate evidence based/medically proven healthcare providers. Educate the wider community on how to support our eczema community. Empower individuals/families to gain knowledge (through appropriate sources), build confidence to access wider support services and become more resilient when facing challenges. We need to make some significant changes of perception in Australia to support and connect our atopic community.

What is the name of your organization?

Eczema SUPPORT Australia Ltd

Where are you and your organization based?

Gold Coast, Australia

Please provide a description of your organization.

Eczema SUPPORT Australia Ltd provides support and connection to people in Australia experiencing a significant impact to their quality of life as a result of Allergies and Eczema. We do this by partnering with carers, families and individuals living with chronic/severe conditions. Founded in 2015 (initially named Hands to Hold, but recently renamed ESA), we have developed and grown to become a reputable, practical and professionally managed nationally registered charity organisation.

What is your name?

Melanie Funk

Tell us about your organization, or the organization you are partnering with: What inspired you to participate in this Challenge (300 words or less)?

Eczema Support Australia Ltd provides support, connection and understanding to individuals and families living with severe or chronic atopic eczema. We reduce social isolation and help overcome social and other barriers. We are managed by a board of directors with complementary professional experience including directors with financial and company director qualifications, functions management, fundraising management, business development, human resource management, social work and medical qualifications. In addition to our foundational management team, we are joined in our endeavours by the volunteer services of members and more recently the professional (yet pro bono) services of a digital marketing company. Our website is currently undergoing a major upgrade. We have already successfully facilitated over 25 social and educational events on the Gold Coast and beyond, including participation in the Australasian College of Dermatology Annual Scientific Meetings, international dermatology events and events where we collaborated with medical specialists, allied health professionals, Allergy & Anaphylaxis and Carers Queensland. In addition to the event activities, Eczema SUPPORT Australia provides direct support to individuals. We are a nationally registered charity, with a very specific goal of reaching our eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) community and connecting them with support. We are particularly focused on reaching those in need. We see adolescence as a key section of our community in need of more connection, support and understanding.

Building on your initial proposal in the Ideas Phase, please share additional information on your solution to the challenge in more detail (500 words or less).

We are about to launch a national campaign to reach our political decision makers and our Australian community at large. This campaign will introduce; #SOS #SaveUsFromEczema. Why? For too long, eczema has been dismissed as “just a bit of itchy skin”. It’s only when you experience severe and unrelenting eczema that you understand how truly maddening and exhausting it can be. It’s time to let everyone know the real pain, distress and life-changing impact of severe eczema. No one with severe eczema should suffer in silence. It’s time people with severe eczema had access to better support and new treatment options. That’s why we’re sending out an SOS on behalf of all Australians impacted by eczema. Our next step is to then give adolescents a voice in this ongoing campaign. We want Australians to understand that our youth are affected by atopic dermatitis in ways that impact the rest of their lives. We will showcase "Life Stories" of our youth to provide an understanding of the reality and the impact of eczema on our teenagers. This, in turn, will have an impact on our community understanding, a reduction in bullying and improved outcomes for our young people. We aim to develop a targeted campaign for change in the Australian landscape. A campaign that will result in more support and options for our youth living with Atopic Dermatitis (eczema). Increased support and options along with the activity of this campaign will result in empowerment, improved quality of life and reduction in bullying.

Please share more information on the steps you’ll take to make sure the project is a success (500 words or less).

We have engaged external and internal assistance to ensure our short and long term goals are achieved. With the national launch of our SOS campaign happening in early December 2019, the timing will be ideal for our Adolescence with Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) campaign starting around May 2020. Our suggested workplan for the Adolescents with Atopic Dermatitis is attached.

How is your idea scalable (300 words or less)?

Starting with a grassroots campaign that has gone to the Federal Government and continuing with a member driven campaign for Adolescents, we are confident of a groundswell of support for our teenagers. We will start with a member story of two or three adolescents and their eczema journey, then gather more stories which we will pitch to local and national mainstream media as well as share on our social media sites. By utilising our Film making services that have already showcased the impact of eczema for adults and young children, we are able to escalate our endeavours to get the story across about the need for more support, treatment options and understanding for our Australian youth. Building on our contacts and outsourced assistance teams, we will ensure this campaign is executed in the most effective and beneficial manner.

How would you know if your idea worked and how would you measure it (500 words or less)?

Growth in adolescent membership numbers. Pre and post campaign surveys with AD community members Pre and post campaign surveys with sample general public Engagement levels with media Engagement levels with other key stakeholders.

During the Ideas Phase, you estimated how much your project will cost. Please update if this estimate has changed?

  • $10,000 or more

Please share more information on how the grant funding will be used to bring your idea to life. Please provide an itemized budget. (500 words or less)

$6000.00 Filming, editing and production. $1500.00 Promotions and advertising $2500.00 Project management, travel and administration costs.

If available, share prototypes, images, sketches of how you created your idea, including a timeline of how your idea will roll out (optional).


Join the conversation:

Photo of Susan Jackewicz

Hi Melanie Funk 
Just checking in to see if you have what you need....the Open Office hours can be very helpful! Best, Susan

Photo of Melanie Funk

Dear Ryan, can you let me know when/where to find the additional questions for the iteration phase of this grant process?

Photo of Ryan Dsouza

Hi Melanie,

Welcome to the community! It's great to see the work you and your team at Eczema Support Australia are doing in spreading awareness and knowledge about the condition, all while fostering supportive communities! We'd love to know about the way you're thinking about expanding this idea and taking it to the next level. I also had a chance to briefly look through your website and the powerful story behind your organization, thank you for sharing your story.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can help in fleshing out your submission! I look forward to learning more about your work and your ideas for taking it ahead!

Photo of Melanie Funk

Dear Ryan. I am happy to share more about our idea.
Details for the Life Stories series; In collaboration with a professional video production and a senior journalist we will produce a series of short videos, interview articles and stories portrayed in various formats that will be targeted at reaching and educating:
• Those living with atopic dermatitis and/or life impacting allergies.
• Medical and allied health professionals that aim to work with our members and the eczema/allergy community at large
• Teachers and educators in contact with eczema/allergy students
• Workplaces accommodating the needs of eczema/allergy individuals
• Extended family and the wider community in contact with eczema/allergy individuals
The stories will highlight the quality of life impact as well as positive experiences that support those affected and manage their challenges. An example of our recent impactful endeavors can be seen in the article and our video pertaining to Vicki Layton.
Vicki Layton’s story can be seen through this link or many others via Google;
Many more of these stories will be collected in various formats and distributed through general media, social media, relevant organisations and our own website.
Let me know what other information you may need for our submission.