NTAHC & QuAC Media Release - Stop Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Funding Cuts!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 9 February 2017
Joint Qld and NT campaign to reverse funding cuts to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexual health programs
The Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council (NTAHC) and the Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) are embarking on a joint campaign to reverse Federal funding cuts to their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexual health programs. The Federal Government has announced that it will halt funding from June 30 to both the QuAC 2 Spirits Program and the 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.
Both programs have been active for over 21 years, and remain the only community programs in the NT and QLD delivering specific and culturally safe sexual health promotion and education directly to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI people, including Sistergirls and Brotherboys.
Funding has been utilised by NTAHC employee teams based in Darwin and Alice Springs, and QuAC employees out of Brisbane and Cairns. All have been working both regionally and remotely, assisting specific populations that often experience difficulties accessing mainstream health services.
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”.
QuAC and NTAHC have started a petition on Change.org aimed at reversing these funding cuts so that that the 2 Spirits and Aboriginal Sexual Health programs can continue after June 30, 2017.
They are also running a social media campaign operating under #LGBTIBlackLivesMatter
Kim Gates, Executive Director, NTAHC - Ph. 08 8944 7701
Michael Scott, Executive Director, Queensland AIDS Council - Ph. 07 3017 1716
Nick Lucchinelli, Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations 0422 229 032
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