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CPSU Member using talents to raise profile of genetic disorder

AT THE CPSU we hear many stories of how Members are contributing to the betterment of their workplaces and to the community. Union values aren’t isolated to the workplace, and you’ll often find Members going over and above in other parts of their lives.

Last week we met a Member who’s raising awareness through art of a common condition that needs a profile lift – hemochromatosis.

Sarah Weaver’s a School Administration Officer at Ogilvie High School and during the week you’ll find her at the school office, and sometimes in the art room where her real passion lies. “I’m an artist in my other life when I’m not at my desk. I’m also the unofficial artist in residence here at Ogilvie,” Sarah said.

She uses her talent to raise awareness for Hemochromatosis in an exhibition, Overload, that’s on in Hobart and Launceston in August.

“I’d had a bit of experience curating art shows, so I got a group of about 20 artists together we decided to try and tell the story of Hemochromatosis through art,” Sarah said. “Everybody has worked to that theme and we’re going to display our art for our third exhibition. We’ve got oil paintings, acrylics, drawings, photography, sculpture, quilts and glass art – so a big variety telling the story of the condition in different ways. We’ve been conceptual about it, and there a lot of personal stories. I’ve got a piece that’s an autobiographical painting that relates to the trauma that my family went through with the misdiagnosis.”

Sarah is a volunteer advocate for Hemochromatosis Australia, signing up as a result of her husband becoming very ill for a number of years. “They couldn’t get to the bottom of what it was, doing every test except the right one for hemochromatosis. From the time he started showing symptoms in his lately 30s to the time he was diagnosed was about 10 years. By that stage he’d accumulated a huge amount of iron everywhere and was very, very sick.”

“People who have this genetic condition build up iron in their organs which leads to iron overload,” Sarah explained. “It’s very, very common and one in 200 people have the genetic predisposition to it and one in nine is actually a carry but a lot of people don’t even realise they have hemochromatosis.”

It’s not a blood disorder either. “It’s actually a gastrointestinal condition because it relates to the absorption of the iron,” Sarah said. “The symptoms include joint pain, severe fatigue, diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, heart failure, osteoarthritis, that kind of thing. The symptoms can be attributed to so many other conditions, and it might not be found if it’s not looked for. People who are diagnosed early and treated have no barrier to a happy, healthy life – that’s our awareness message.

“If these exhibitions help others become aware of the condition, then it’s all been worthwhile.”



Exhibition: Overload: A group art exhibition for Hemochromatosis Awareness Week.


Opening: Wednesday August 6, 6pm

Exhibition on until August 29.

The Stable Gallery

Cooley’s Hotel, Main Road Moonah



Opening: Sunday 31 August 31

Exhibition on until September 26

The ARTrium Gallery

Launceston General Hospital, Frankland St

Hemochromatosis Awareness Week runs between August 9 – 16.  Read more about hemochromatosis here.


About Sarah

Sarah’s been a CPSU Member since 2007. “I use oil paints, pallet knives and rags in my work, and make mainly landscapes. I’ve been exhibiting for about 10 years now around Hobart. I do the grade nine and 10 oil painting classes at the school. It’s great fun, I really enjoy it. We have exhibitions every year. Kids respond really well to have a pallet knife in their hands. Doing those workshops gave me the confidence to run these exhibitions, along with an art group that helps me.”

Find out more about Sarah’s art and upcoming exhibitions here.

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