Forum: PSA in the Mardi Gras

An Auspharm forum member writes: Just saw on the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Facebook page that the PSA is seeking to participate in a float for the Sydney 2018 Mardi Gras as per this quote:

‘PSA is committed to ensuring that equality is achieved, and that pharmacists are recognised as an important part of an accessible and equitable healthcare system. PSA is proud to announce their planned involvement in the 40th Sydney Mardi Gras in 2018. An organising committee will be convened in the coming weeks to coordinate the development, design and implementation of this initiative. An invitation to submit Expressions of Interest to join the organising committee will be released through social media in the coming weeks.’

Alongside is a picture of the rainbow colours with the logo “Pharmacists for equality. PSA is proud to announce their planned involvement in the 40th Sydney Mardi Gras….PSA will auspice and coordinate a float on behalf of the profession with the theme ‘Pharmacists for equality’. PSA committed to better health”

How does participating in the Mardi Gras ensure an equitable healthcare system? Pharmacists are already providing an excellent healthcare service to all people from all walks of life without discrimination regardless of race, age, gender or orientation. The PSA should continue its great advocacy for the profession in matters of a truly professional nature such as remuneration, CPD and education and leave the Mardi Gras for those who wish to participate on a personal level.

What do other fellow pharmacists think about this issue?”

Post a comment.

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  1. Martin

    PSA committee members, As a PSA member I object to your personal wishes to spend my hard earned membership money on a good time float (REGARDLESS OF THE PERSONAL NATURE AND THEME OF THE FLOAT) and saying that we the members (ALL by implication) support it.

    The PSA cost of CPD to its members continues to rise – which budget will the party float come out of?

    Government are belligerent in allocating and releasing budgeted 6-CPA funds for professional and other services – you’re not helping optimally here either. You’ve dropped the ball. Lost focus.

    How will the party benefit me as a regional pharmacist? How will it improve the local community in which I serve – the Indiginous, the Muslims, the Christians, the elderly convalescent? The relative lack of health services and providers?

    What research has the PSA done that spending these vital funds are better pro quo on a feel good junket than lobbying full pace on professional services for a professional healthcare provider? Did it entail a few cocktails at the bar late one night with the PSA executive – no doubt “Joe”?

    Your personal choice if you want to support and attend a party – any party – any public event – but please do it with the cash in your own pocket – don’t take it from mine.

    Here are my humble suggestions:

    1. Set up a Voluntary donation crowd source button on the PSA website – let members vote with their own wallets.

    2. Time and money resources to be out of hours by all participants. Not PSA time (our money).

    3. Identify your float as Pharmacists – ONLY – it still gets your point across 100% – leave the PSA tag out.

    4. Send an email or similar questionnaire out to PSA members at least three months down the track to see if health are has been improved. (It’s called quality assurance FYI if you are not familiar with the term).

    5. Don’t call me – I’m too busy on the coalesce caring for my minority patients and customers – ALL of them – it’s called equity and equality and fairness and common sense and …

    • Martin

      PS: PSA members running for elections – don’t forget to CLEARLY AND UNAMBIGUOUSLY state on your profile if you will be spending members subs on parties and floats.

    • Sheshtyn Paola

      Hi Martin,
      PSA CEO Lance Emerson has pointed out in a previous article that no PSA member money is being spent on the Mardi Gras initiative, and that the organising committee comprises volunteers only.
      Kind regards,
      Sheshtyn (Journalist, AJP)

      • Martin

        Sheshtyn, you missed the point and Cherry picked – please reply to all the detailed points, not just 10% – and Lance needs to understand that time is money – our money – and he (and others) have already spent quite a bit of PSA time on this.

        • Sheshtyn Paola

          Hi Martin,
          It’s not my place to “reply to all the detailed points” of your post as I am not a PSA representative.
          You seem to be assuming that Mr Emerson and the PSA have spent time on this. As stated above, Mr Emerson has pointed out that the organising committee comprises volunteers only.
          Kind regards,

          • Martin

            … after feeling the heat … #unitedairlinesbackflip

    • Jarrod McMaugh

      G’Day Martin

      A few points I might address here, but first I might say that your response here shows that you may be working “at the coalface”, but you’re out of touch with society and the profession of pharmacy.

      First points – your hard-earned membership money is used to fund advocacy and professional development. While participation by PSA volunteers in the Mardi Gras is a positive for the industry, it isn’t funded by the PSA.

      That point was made fairly clear in every article on the topic so far. I guess you didn’t read the articles too deeply. Given that you don’t seem to be abreast of the work of PSA in advocacy, I guess this is to be expected…. you aren’t paying attention to the details.

      With regards to the communities you mention – rural, indigenous, muslim, christians – each of these communities are made up of humans…. as a result, they have members who are LGBTQ+. This isn’t a controversial concept. Tolerance and acceptance is just as relevant (if not more so) for these communities as it is for the wider Australian community.

      To your numbered points:
      1) Not necessary, since PSA is not funding it…. but perhaps there would be great support from other members who aren’t so closed-minded who would love to contribute.
      2) That’s what volunteering means.
      3) PSA has every right to use the name and logo for any advocacy it deems appropriate. The board is made up of elected officials, who are taken from each of the state branch committees (also elected – this includes myself, on the Victorian Branch, one of the two Vice Presidents for Victoria). If the membership truly believes this is not appropriate, then they can make their disapproval known when voting. I for one stand by this decision by PSA, and would gladly be voted out over it.
      4) I think PSA is very well versed in quality assurance, which is why an initiative like the once suggested in point 4 isn’t done, since it can’t measure quality assurance at all!
      5) I’m not really sure what your last point is getting at, since the rest of your post has implied that you don’t want equity and equality for pharmacists or our patients…. only those who aren’t LGBTQ+ ….. and newsflash, that isn’t equity or equality.

  2. Lance Emerson

    To be clear – volunteers are working on this. Zero PSA member funds are being spent. In addition – The Guild, SHPA and NAPSA volunteers are also on the organising committee, along with PSA. PSA are simply facilitating this for the profession.
    As others on the AJP forum have pointed out, and I quote : “is it ever wrong to show compassion, support and understanding towards fellow humans who have suffered for aeons and continue to suffer discrimination and intolerance because of ignorance and fear?” .. and another “I’ve never really understood why people think that advocating for equality somehow takes away from other issues (e.g. remuneration). We can focus on more than one issue at a time. (You’d hope anyway being the amazing professionals that we all are). That sentiment implies that equality isn’t important. Which, news flash, it is. The fact is, LGBTQ+ people still experience poorer outcomes with their health on average and still face stigma all the time in healthcare”.
    That’s why PSA are facilitating this for the profession. For the same reasons the peak nursing, doctor and dentists groups do.
    I hope this clarifies.
    Dr Lance Emerson, PSA CEO

    • Ronky

      OK, let’s pretend as you claim that this is really being done by supposed “volunteers” in their own free time outside of the workplace, using their own home computers, their own private resources etc. If this is the case, then they shouldn’t present their private personal activity as being done on behalf of or representing the PSA (or Guild, NAPSA, or SHPA) or its members, much less “on behalf of the profession”!.

      • pagophilus

        Exactly. We talked about giving people at high risk of contracting HIV PrEP. One is not at high risk of contracting HIV because they belong to a “group”. One is at high risk of contracting HIV because of what one does. And for that risky behaviour one gets rewarded by receiving expensive medicines at taxpayers’ expense to try to counteract the results of the high-risk behaviour. One does not learn by being shielded from the results of their actions. Unfortunately in the case of HIV lessons are expensive (irreversible), however being protected from consequences increases high-risk behaviour. 75-85% of new HIV diagnoses in Australia are in MSM. (Drug users only account for around 3%- we have virtually won that battle.) Obviously that’s not all of them, but a significant minority who engage in high risk sexual behaviour, significant enough to be responsible for that high figure. Where’s the media discussion of that 75-85%? Total silence. It’s outrageous. We have a serious public health issue here and there’s total silence.

        “The drivers of the HIV epidemic in men who have sex with
        men are complex, and include increasing risk behaviour
        since the introduction of effective antiretroviral therapy
        (a phenomenon termed therapeutic optimism), high
        transmission risk of receptive anal intercourse, sexual
        networks, and stigma restricting access to care.” Lancet 2014; 384: 258–71

        aka high risk behaviours.

        As for other health outcomes – mental etc….don’t assume they are due to stigma or lack of acceptance. Look at Sweden – one of the world’s most tolerant nations and see just how much worse the health outcomes are for LGBTQ+ people. It’s not due to lack of acceptance or stigma. It is somehow part of the package. How? More research needs to be done on that, rather than ASSUMING it’s due to the rest of us being hateful etc.

        • Jarrod McMaugh

          Leo nobody said the differences in health outcomes are due to hate (although hatred is definitely a factor)

          As for risky behaviour… Your discussion of PrEP would imply a few things:
          HIV only affects the LGBTQ+ community
          People who require PrEP to remain healthy do not deserve access to medication that would protect their health because the fact that they require it implies that they are being too risky.

          The “risky behaviour” to which you allude is sex. This is about as basic a desire as exists behind eating and breathing. People should have to make a choice between sex and health when an effective method of protecting health is available.

          This is all ignoring the point that health considerations within the LGBTI+ community isn’t confined to sexual health. Regardless there are people in our community who want to reduce the issue to one of sex only. This attitude demonstrates then need for greater understanding… Something that participation in the Mardi gras can contribute to. I’d like to suggest that you join in, but perhaps that’s asking too much of your sensibilities.

          • pagophilus

            My discussion implies nothing but what it states. If people “require ” (now that adds an interesting perspective to the discussion) PrEP to remain healthy it implies that they are doing something high risk. How about promote personal responsibility rather than expensive taxpayer-funded bandaids?

            Let’s be blunt. The high risk behaviour is unprotected sex anal sex (high risk in itself compared to vaginal) with a large number of partners. And that is what a minority of MSM engage is to put them at risk. Traditionally society has valued monogamy. If people want to go against “traditional values” or even if society as a whole wants to change its values that’s fine but there are consequences for every action, and what we are seeing is a desire to protect people from consequences. This does not lead to responsible behaviour. I wouldn’t recommend it with bringing up children and I wouldn’t recommend it on a societal level either. Hence the phenomenon termed “therapeutic optimism” – this is protecting me, I can practice more high risk behaviour.

            Sex is a big part of the issue. Please don’t try to hide that get. Honestly, watch the Mardi Gras and tell me with a straight face that sex is not the major issue. When it comes to acceptance, as people everyone should be accepted for day-to-day life, but if you’re talking acceptance of behaviours then it will be a losing battle. This is what many don’t get. Much of the debate and the angst is not about the people, it’s about behaviours, and many simply won’t “accept” some behaviours. Since behaviour and who you identify as is so closely tied together, that’s why you have the problem of acceptance, and that’s also the reason this will never be solved, especially not by in-your-face sexualised antics at the Mardi Gras.

          • Jarrod McMaugh

            Your post does indeed only imply what it says, which is why I summarised it.

            I think it is very telling that you would only raise the issue of HIV in a discussion about LQBTQ+ health, since the greatest impact is in mental health rather than sexual health.

            Clearly HIV is a “big deal” in the LGBTQ+ community, but it is for other sectors of the community. Clearly my experience is anecdotal and not applicable to everyone, but the only people I have ever had approach Mr about supplying PrEP were heterosexual, and all of them were married to people who have well-controlled HIV viral loads at the time of the discussion.

            All of them were Interested in the medication as a means of reducing the risk of transmission when having sex with their spouse. None of thrm proceeded due to the cost.

            What’s interesting about my anecdote is that my pharmacy has a “standard” population of people who use today as any of the letters from the acronym LGBTQ+…. yet no person who had ever accessed antiretroviral treatment or PrEP has been gay.

            This tells me that either they are all extraordinarily careful/lucky etc (you might describe it as “behaving themselves” given your previous language on the topic)…. Or, more realistically, they don’t see community pharmacy as an appropriate venue to access these therapies due to the stigma and bigotry they may encounter from accessing any health service in community pharmacy.

            THIS is why PSA’s involvement in the Mardi gras (no matter get it is unofficial) is so important.. because we aren’t seen as non-judgemental, caring, or understanding the needs of this community. You’ve demonstrated that clearly.

  3. William

    I have great difficulty in understanding how such measures help the economy or heathcare.
    Better still would be to get rid of the rubbish product that are stocked by many shops.

  4. Daniel Roitman

    This is a fantastic initiative that makes me proud to call myself a PSA member. Mardi Gras isn’t just a celebration of the LGBTIQ+ community, it’s a time to tell all Australians, no matter who they are, that they are an important and welcome part of our diverse community. My only criticism is that it hasn’t happened sooner!

  5. pagophilus

    So are the pharmacists who will participate in the Mardi Gras going to be half-naked and gyrating in sexually suggestive poses. I fail to see how such an “in your face” event promotes acceptance. It promotes division. People who have issues with LGBT+ are not going to suddenly cone 3 around because they see a sexually-suggestive parade. It simply confirms in their minds that this is more about attacking traditional sexual norms than it is about acceptance.

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