Professor Carla Treloar, Director of the UNSW Centre for Social Research in Health, pays her respects to the late Jenny Kelsall, former Executive Officer of Harm Reduction Victoria and tireless advocate of the Australian drug users movement.
My research has been deeply influenced by Jenny’s wisdom and insight. I read the chapter on hepatitis C peer education by Jenny and Michael Kerger soon after I started my job at what was then the National Centre in HIV Social Research. I was new to the sector and new to working with people who inject drugs or who live with hepatitis C. I hadn’t met Jenny or any of the Melbourne crew at that stage, but reading that chapter was a formative and foundational experience. Jenny’s writing humanised the whole picture, putting “people” at the centre of the story. It gave me the confidence to frame all of my future work around the involvement of people who use drugs. That chapter was also central to my understanding of the importance of an academic voice for people who inject drugs and I’m so pleased and impressed to see Jenny’s publishing profile (below). Jenny has been a trail blazer in this regard, showing all of us staid academics what can be achieved if people who know what they are doing have the opportunity to be in the driver’s seat.
I’ve admired and respected Jenny from afar for many years. (I must admit, I’ve been a little intimidated by Jenny on occasion, not always knowing how to speak to her without revealing my crashing ignorance in the face of her deep, deep knowledge!). I was thrilled to have the opportunity in 2016 to interview Jenny, along with Annie Madden, for our Speak Easy podcast (the transcript follows). In her very articulate and highly considered way, Jenny explains her history, her involvement in drug use organisations and her vision for the future.
Jenny’s tireless campaigning for harm reduction and her inimitable voice in advocating for Australian drug users will be missed. Vale Jenny Kelsall.
Professor Carla Treloar
Director, Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Sydney
List of academic works by Jenny Kelsall
Kelsall, J., & Kerger, M. (2001). Hepatitis C peer education. In N. Crofts, G. Dore, & S. Locarnini (Eds.), Hepatitis C: An Australian Perspective. Melbourne: IP Communications.
Aitken, C., Moore, D., Higgs, P., Kelsall, J., & Kerger, M. (2002). The impact of a police crackdown on a street drug scene: Evidence from the street. International Journal of Drug Policy, 13(3), 189-198.
Sargent, P., Kelsall, J., Crofts, N., Higgs, P., & Le, T. (2002). Measuring physical activity in public open space - An electronic device versus direct observation. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 26(1), 50-51.
Aitken, C. K., McCaw, R. F., Bowden, D. S., Tracy, S. L., Kelsall, J. G., Higgs, P. G., . . . Crofts, J. N. (2004). Molecular epidemiology of hepatitis C virus in a social network of injection drug users. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 190(9), 1586-1595.
Higgs, P., Kelsall, J., & Nguyen, Q. C. (2008). Transitions to injecting and risk of hepatitis C transmission among ethnic Vietnamese heroin smokers in Melbourne, Australia. Hepatitis Monthly, 8(2), 115-120.
Norman, J., Walsh, N. M., Mugavin, J., Stoové, M. A., Kelsall, J., Austin, K., & Lintzeris, N. (2008). The acceptability and feasibility of peer worker support role in community based HCV treatment for injecting drug users. Harm Reduction Journal, 5.
Brogan, D., & Kelsall, J. (2011). A Harm Reductionist response. Drug and Alcohol Review, 30(3), 330-331.
Higgs, P., Cogger, S., Kelsall, J., Gavin, N., Elmore, K., Francis, P., & Dietze, P. (2016). It stops with us: Peer responses increase availability of sterile injecting equipment. International Journal of Drug Policy, 29, 96-97.
Henderson, C., Madden, A., & Kelsall, J. (2017). 'Beyond the willing and the waiting' - The role of peer-based approaches in hepatitis C diagnosis and treatment. International Journal of Drug Policy.