Cuts to sexual health funding for Aboriginal people in NSW cannot be tolerated

Posted by Policy Unit on 7 July 2016

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Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) is shocked to hear that the Commonwealth Government has withdrawn $2.3 million of funding to the NSW State Government for sexual health programs in NSW Aboriginal communities.

The Australian government have undisputed evidence that young Aboriginal people prefer to get their sexual health information, checks, STI protection and treatment from Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs).

Jill Gallagher AO, said ‘I am extremely upset to hear that yet again, we are seeing Aboriginal health dollars being cut. This is simply unacceptable given the increase in identified sexual health statistics across Australia regardless of whether a person is Aboriginal or not.’  

All  affected services were notified by telephone on the 29th of June, with the cuts effective on the 1st of July. The impact on organisations for Fairwork costs will be significant. A key concern of this process is the risk of losing experienced and trusted staff in the Aboriginal sexual health sector.

The Kirby Institute’s Evaluation of the NSW Aboriginal Sexual and Reproductive Health Program shows that Aboriginal young people aged 15-24 years attending the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations for medical consultations increased by 28% when the program commenced. This resulted in a 66% increase in the number of chlamydia tests conducted by participating ACCHOs.

Chlamydia is the most notified Sexually Transmissible Infection (STI) in young Australians, with the rate of chlamydia in young Aboriginal people three times that of non-Aboriginal people.

Any reduction of funds will have a catastrophic impact on population health outcomes for all Aboriginal people, but particularly young Aboriginal Australians.

VACCHO calls on the Government to reconsider their withdrawal of funding to the Aboriginal sexual health sector in NSW.

VACCHO encourages all State and Territory Governments to continue, or commence where it is absent, co-funding ACCHOs to employ dedicated Aboriginal Sexual Health Workers who provide expert sexual, reproductive, and blood borne virus knowledge, education and health care to our communities. 

Download the full media release here. PDF


Enquiries please contact Louise Lyons, Director Public Health and Research Unit on 03 9411 9411