Red-y to Give Back: April 2014

Red-y to Give Back

by 2014 WAMSS President Sebastian Leathersich

WAMSS and its members run an extensive range of events and initiatives as part of our efforts to support and engage every one of our students. From our excellent relationship with the UWA Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, to independent academic and leadership programs, to the largest student- run party in Australia – we aspire to offer something for everyone.

Invariably, one of the most rewarding aspects of being involved in WAMSS is witnessing the work of the social justice portfolio. Among its programs are initiatives to support local and international charity initiatives, work directly to make WAMSS and UWA greener, advocate on Indigenous health, and run campus-wide mental health initiatives, just to name a few.

As part of this, WAMSS supports a number of local charities through events that are orchestrated by our amazing ‘Lookout’ representatives, Sophie Doherty and Jennifer Alderson. Their first events of the year have recently concluded, with Pancake Day and Scrubber Day raising money for the Kids Cancer Support Group.

Pancake Day (25 March) had students rallying their peers to slave over the stove at the UWA Campus – selling pancakes to help make life in hospital and during treatment easier for kids suffering with cancer.

Meanwhile Scrubber Day (on 3 April) saw a sea of medical students in their craziest, most colourful attire crowding the city for this great cause, so hopefully you said hello to any oddly-dressed youths.

Later in the year, medical students will be pushing a child from SCGH to Forrest Place in our annual Bedpush fundraiser, whilst the talented among us will take to the kitchens at Ronald McDonald House to cook for the families of ill children.

Looking beyond our own doorstep, one of the most successful charity initiatives run by WAMSS, and a fixture in our calendar, is the Red Party. As a charity organisation aiming to raise funds and awareness for HIV/AIDS, the Red Party campaign is our way, as students, of contributing to one of the greatest health challenges of our generation.

The concept is simple – a great party with a red theme, the internationally recognised colour of AIDS, with all proceeds donated to HIV/AIDS programs in South Africa.

In 2007, a small group of WAMSS members brought the Red Party to Australian shores. Since then it has moved from strength to strength, expanding to encompass a series of successful awareness and fundraising events. The educational Red Aware campaign has grown to comprise a diverse spectrum of events – from film and quiz nights to art exhibitions – and culminates in the high-energy Red Week that sees Perth’s major landmarks lit up in red, and an army of red-clad students taking over campuses around Perth.

Since the birth of the Red Party concept, WAMSS has donated over $200,000 whilst raising HIV awareness in the community and engaging many thousands of university students. With this success, the Red Party has spread from the west coast and across the Nullarbor, with 16 medical schools around Australia now running their own Red Parties.

In 2014, we have our sights set on raising the bar once again.

This May will see Fraser’s State Reception Centre play host to the inaugural Red Aware Gala Ball, bringing the Red Party cause and mission to a professional crowd. The night promises stunning performances, an exciting charity auction and an irresistible dance floor, all whilst enjoying exquisite food and wine and unparalleled views across the Swan River and the city lights.

The Red Party team have been working hard to realise the concept since its inception in 2013, and I've no doubt that the Red Aware Gala Ball will be a wonderful and memorable event that will contribute significantly to an exceptional cause.

It is always a great pleasure to see medical students contributing to their own communities, and to global health challenges, so early in their careers. With such compassionate and committed individuals leading these initiatives, I am confident that they will continue to flourish and give back to the community for years to come.