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Champion Health Agency is the culmination of the life experience of founder Anja Christoffersen. Anja grew up with a unique view of the world - often perceiving systems from an 'outsiders' perspective and wanting to be part of making processes more equitable and adaptable.
Born with a rare congenital disability affecting most bodily systems, Anja experiences the healthcare system to an immeasurable depth and breadth. With an estimated 30+ procedures/surgeries under anaesthetic, more than 100 hospital admissions/ED presentations and more ambulatory (outpatient) healthcare visits than one could begin to fathom - Anja's expertise developed as a 'consumer' of healthcare services.
Anja did not understand the value that this expertise could bring, and assumed the only way she could create positive change in health was through a medical degree. However, the reality of the situation was that traditional full-time study and work opportunities would not be possible for her given her episodic debilitating illness and disability. Therefore, she set out to change perception surrounding scars through pursuing a career as a model.
After many rejections due to her scars, Anja navigated industry standards and stereotypes, and with hard work, belief and determination she achieved her dream of walking at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Europe within a year of being represented by a modelling agency in Australia. Anja began to want to be heard, rather than only seen - which motivated a transition into pageantry, which. saw her place 1st Runner Up at Miss Grand Australia in 2019 (3rd largest beauty pageant internationally) - the first time a person with disability has placed in Grand Slam Pageantry in Australia.
Beyond the scope of the fashion industry, Anja began building a platform to create meaningful change using her lived experience as a person with a disability. As her disability did not only influence her healthcare system access, but her ability to participate in education and broader society, it was evident that the expertise that her lived experience brought was applicable to improve disability equity across sectors. Anja was involved in a broad range of roles such as a public figure in media, ambassador, keynote speaker, consultant and consumer representative for government bodies, health and education departments, hospital and health services, not-for-profits and the private sector. Having these diverse experiences to create transformative change using her lived experience as a profession allowed the potential for Champion Health Agency to be realised.
For Anja, an agency structure has always represented professionalism and safety. It was a way to ensure that people were treated with respect, paid fair wages, were safe when they were going to jobs, could access work, understood expectations of them and had professional development, strategy, support and encouragement. Bringing this model into a new space to represent people with disability, chronic illness and carers to allow people to access opportunities to use their lived experience as a profession in a safe and nurturing environment seemed like a natural evolution given their backgrounds.
Anja is now trailblazing a new way for people in the disability, chronic illness and carers' community to be a professionally-sought solution to the challenges that they face.
Founder Anja Christoffersen
Image description: Anja is a caucasian woman with blue eyes, long blonde hair, an NG tube coming from her left nostril and stands with her left hand on her hip and right hand by her side holding a leopard print jacket. She smiles to the camera. She is wearing a high necked, sleeveless black top and nude high waisted pants. The background is a brick wall and concrete floor, with bricks different tones of browns, with most light tan coloured. .
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