Stop Cuts to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Sexual Health Funding in QLD and NT!
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The Federal Government has announced that it will halt funding from June 30 to both the Queensland AIDS Council’s (QuAC) 2 Spirits Program and the Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council’s (NTAHC) Aboriginal Sexual Health Program.
Each program represents a longstanding effort by the Councils to address the disproportionate instance of STI rates amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland and the Northern Territory, with the impending funding cuts set to draw these efforts to an indefinite close.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have STI rates up to 20 x higher than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and constitute 60% of people living with chronic hepatitis B in the Northern Territory.
STI and blood borne virus rates in the NT are some of the highest in the country and are increasing, with alarming spikes in syphilis and HIV notifications recorded across the Territory over the past 12 months.
Michael Scott, Executive Director of the Queensland AIDS Council, points out that “without the 2 Spirits Program many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gay men and Sistergirls will have nowhere to go. The risks to their mental and sexual health are significant and the outcome will be devastating.”
Kim Gates, Executive Director of the Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council agreed that “the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) communities have unique healthcare needs that relate to addressing their sexuality and gender identity concerns, and they face significant levels of stigma, discrimination and social exclusion. The impact these funding cuts will potentially have on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ community members, particularly Sistergirls and Brotherboys, has not been considered”.
The QuAC 2 Spirits Program and the NTAHC Aboriginal Sexual Health Program have provided a unique and targeted array of sexual health promotion services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout Queensland and the NT, with their collective achievements including:
- Increased connectedness and rapport with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ communities including Sistergirls and Brotherboys
- Deconstruction of stigma for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ people with a view to encouraging safe sex practices and regular testing and treatment
- Distribution of condoms and HIV prevention medication
- Development of culturally appropriate sexual health resources and education materials
- Development of nationally recognised safe sex campaigns targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities such as QuAC’s Condoman and NTAHC’s Drama Down Under – Wet & Dry
Please join us in reminding our Federal Health and Indigenous Affairs representatives that the time is ripe for comprehensive investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health!
Time is now running out for funding to be re-instated at an appropriate and sustainable level. Before there is nowhere to go.
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