Many Australians are living with overweight or obesity, and while weight issues have been seen in the media more frequently over the past few years – the voice of people with overweight and obesity is missing. The need for a support and advocacy organisation for people with overweight and obesity has been felt for a long time.
- 2018: the Obesity Collective, a group of professional people and community leaders with an interest in taking on the obesity challenge together (not just blaming people), recognised the need to include the voice of those with lived experience. They made it a priority and used the skills and connections of the network to help the group get started.
- April 2019: In order to test their proposal, a small working group met with people who had either lived experience of obesity, or an understanding of the issues from a range of perspectives. These people also represented a broad set of skills which would be useful if, and as, the group began to form.
- The challenges, stigma, the need for the lived experience voice were all discussed at an initial workshop. The purpose, objectives and guiding principles of the organisation were developed and agreed; and it was decided that this newly forming network should be accessible for a broad range of people. This included those who are overweight, parents and carers, family members, friends and passionate clinicians.
- May 2019: The next step was to create a name for the new group. The leadership team developed over 20 name ideas and tested them with many people in many settings – particularly lived experience groups at health centres and online platforms. The Weight Issues Network was a clear winner, with people preferring not to have ‘obesity’ in the title, although there was recognition that it is a necessary medical term.
- Through pro bono support from Addison’s Law Firm, the WIN leaders developed the constitution for the new organisation. This is currently in the process of registration.
- August 2019: WIN began recruiting its’ first members! The team developed a very simple and basic website, a Facebook page and flyer to get started.
- September 2019: we held our first new members workshop at Westmead Hospital. We had over 50 new members working with the WIN leaders, discussing the power of personal stories, what we want to advocate for, and how we want to stay connected as a network.
- October 2019 – Our first members’ webinar saw four of the WIN board sharing their personal stories and the team began planning the next steps.