The organisation behind the creation of LifeKeepers, Le Va, scooped an AUT Centre for eHealth innovation leadership award, presented in Auckland on 10 August.

“This eHealth award gives us a real buzz as we gear up for next month’s launch of LifeKeepers - New Zealand’s new evidence-based national suicide prevention training programme,” said Le Va Chief Executive, Dr Monique Faleafa.

The award recognised the forward thinking and innovative approach of Le Va, with a prime example being the Aunty Dee app - a digital wellbeing tool targeting youth.

“On behalf of the amazing young people that helped develop Aunty Dee, and my outstanding team, I’m thrilled and honoured to receive this eHealth innovation award.

“While our sole focus is to ignite communities and create change by working collaboratively with partners to improve health outcomes for New Zealanders, it’s great to be recognised by the mental health sector for our innovative approach and commitment to making a positive difference.

“We’re already working on Aunty Dee 2.0 for enhanced user experience.

Director of the AUT Centre for eHealth, Associate Professor Duncan Babbage, said the award is recognition for Dr Monique Faleafa’s ability to inspire through forward thinking leadership, innovation and implementation. 

“Monique is a wonderful example of leadership of health innovation that is deeply engaged with end users, imagining through co-design the future with Pasifika and Māori youth and communities, and delivering new ways of achieving health and wellness,” said Associate Professor Babbage.

“As if her work in these priority populations was not enough, the tools and approaches are already being taken up and are providing positive outcomes for people from across the entire New Zealand population. 

“Our panel was unanimous in our selection of Dr Faleafa, and we look forward to many more years of her forward thinking leadership in New Zealand.”

Launched in April 2016, the free Aunty Dee online tool uses structured problem solving based on cognitive behavioural therapy principles, to guide users to work through any concern, brainstorm ideas to find a solution, and write an action plan that can be downloaded or emailed and shared with others. 

Easy to use and accessible on any web-based device, Aunty Dee was developed to be used on-the-go, as and when needed.  It was co-designed with young people, with the tool targeted to appeal to Māori as well as Pasifika (13-25 year-olds), noting the commonality of these cultures in valuing a collective approach. The ‘aunty’ figure stands for any number of caring women to whom youth might turn for advice. 

Although targeting youth, Aunty Dee has also proven popular across the age spectrum, with 48% of users outside the targeted youth demographic.

Over the last 12 months, 61% of users have rated their mood as better after engaging with Aunty Dee.