VIRAL: WATCH THE FILM
A deadly short film about smashing Hepatitis C
Originally staged as a play which toured in 2018 and 2019, VIRAL is a short film made with mob for mob about navigating Hepatitis C.
Sifting through myths, smashing stigma, and getting the right information can seem like an impossible dream – but preventing and curing Hep C is now easier than you might think.
Join Ally and Kev who live up in the flats. They’ve got their own little place, a brand new baby and dreams for the future. Life should be good but sometimes things don’t always go to plan.
Meet Merv who hasn’t been feeling great lately, not for some years in fact. Years of tough luck, bad choices and hard living have finally caught up with him.
They’re all looking at one final chance to make things right before it’s too late.
VIRAL The Film
In 2005 ILBIJERRI was approached by the Victorian Government Department of Health & Human Services to develop a play that would communicate hepatitis C prevention and education messages in a culturally appropriate way to the Indigenous community. It was understood that live performance, particularly comedy, is an effective tool in breaking down social boundaries where certain concepts and issues are considered too confronting to publicly discuss.
In 2018, the stage play VIRAL followed on from our widely acclaimed works CHOPPED LIVER and BODY ARMOUR – three exciting instalments in ILBIJERRI’s trilogy of hepatitis C health works – aimed at breaking down stigma, promoting healing, and getting our Community hep C free.
Created through an in-depth engagement process, including community workshops and yarning circles, VIRAL was remounted for a second regional tour in 2019, following its inaugural tour in 2018, and once again performed in community centres, schools and prisons.
VIRAL was due to have its third and final community tour in 2020 as a live theatre show. In response to Covid restrictions and the unlikely chance of getting the work out into community spaces, prisons, and health centres, the production was re-imagined as a film to be rolled out in 2022.
We hope to engage in further conversation with Community about the film.
ILBIJERRI’s participatory theatre model pushes our social impact work further by centering the work on participants’ stories and experiences, giving community members ownership over material being explored, and agency in discovering culturally safe ways to reduce stigma and address health. Our methodology privileges Indigenous knowledges and cultural values, emphasising the cultural determinants of health in addressing best practice in public health.
ILBIJERRI is working closely with The University of Melbourne Dean’s Research Fellow (Dr Sarah Woodland) and the Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health to track our progress..Dr Woodland’s research addresses gaps in evidence, program design, and research evaluation methodologies for effective health promotion and education among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. This research partnership has the capacity to inform current strategies being developed at Federal and State level for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with potential to influence public health and related policy settings.
VIRAL The Film
Writer Maryanne Sam
Screen adaptation Chantelle Murray
Creative Direction Kamarra Bell-Wykes
Producer Lauren Sheree
Performers: Blayne Welsh, Laila Thaker, Corey Saylor-Brunskill, Joshua Austin, Zerene Jaadwa, Lisa Maza, Nick Sumner-Wright, Eban Roach, Melodie Reynolds, Diarra, Jaeden Williams, Stone Motherless Cold, Alinta Roberta, Natasha Garling, and Dylan Kerr.
Filmed and edited by YOUTHWORX Productions
ILBIJERRI thanks members from Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC); Star Health; Loddon Prison Precinct, and the 2018 cast of VIRAL (Jesse Butler, Laila Thaker and Blayne Welsh) for their vital contributions to the development of this project.
This project is supported by the Victorian Government through the Department of Health and Human Services.
With thanks also for additional assistance from LiverWell, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS), Justice Health via Department of Justice and Community Safety, Thorne Harbour Health, and the Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health (CERSH).