Evidence heard at Senate Estimates this afternoon has revealed that critical sexual health prevention programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are being defunded by the Turnbull Government without any evaluation or consultation.
The Department of Health has confirmed the Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council and the Queensland AIDS Council for Sexual Health will have their federal funding ceased on the 1 July this year without any consultation, evaluation or justification.
Today the Department gave no explanation as to why or how the funds would be redirected to alternative providers, leaving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) community members with nowhere to go.
Senator McAllister: Have you done any specific evaluation of the programs that you are defunding?
Department of Health Official: As part of the agreements that we have with these specific organisations, no we havent.
Senator McAllister: Did you ask the state based organisations whether if they would be willing to partner with you in an evaluation of the programs?
Department of Health Official: I will have to take that on notice, Im not aware.
Senator McAllister: So you have defunded them without a specific evaluation of the programs?
Department of Health Official: No, we didnt ask.
Senator McAllister: Didnt ask, didnt do an evaluation, defunded. Ok.
This comes at the same time when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander STI and BBV rates are increasing at a rapid rate.
Without continued funding there are major risks for the mental and sexual health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ community members, who have unique healthcare needs.