The Remote STI and BBV Project

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health to develop and deliver the Remote STI and BBV Project – Young Deadly Free.

The Project, which ran from July 2016 to June 2019, comprised a set of interrelated activities aiming to substantially increase STI and BBV testing and treatment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people living in remote communities across Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia.

Young Deadly Free resources and activities, including this website, were developed by SAHMRI in consultation with the project consortia and with input from participating communities. Project activities are delivered in partnership with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and their affiliates.

The Project was evaluated by SiREN, the Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Applied Research & Evaluation Network, based at Curtin University in Western Australia.

SiREN, in collaboration with SAHMRI, produced two posters summarising selected Young Deadly Free evaluation findings for the youth peer education program and the uptake of the project’s health promotion resources.

Project components

Project activities sought to significantly increase STI testing and treatment rates among young people in remote and very remote Aboriginal communities, and do so as quickly as possible – the aim being to rapidly bring down new infection rates.

Otherwise healthy young people at risk of STIs and BBVs who do not generally access health services need to be made aware of the need to test for STIs and BBVs, and of where to get tested. Young people need to be linked to testing services and feel empowered to ask to be tested.

At the same time, clinicians seeing young people from remote communities need to proactively offer STI and BBV tests as part of routine health checks – and ensure that no opportunities to engage with young people on the need for regular testing are missed.

  • Peer education for young people — a culturally appropriate, peer-led education program on STIs and BBVs was developed, targeting young people aged 15 to 29 years living in remote and very remote Aboriginal communities. The Peer Education Program was trialled in 15 remote communities across Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia.
  • Resource development — culturally appropriate web-based and print resources on STIs and BBVs for young people and people of influence in the community — including Elders, parents, youth workers and mentors — were developed. The key messages of these resources focus on STI and BBV testing and treatment, and the need to address the stigma and shame that can be associated with discussing sex and sexuality. There is also a set of factsheets on sex and the law. These resources, all branded Young Deadly Free, are housed on this website – all accessible here.
  • Support for clinicians — resources were developed to assist in the induction, training and professional development of clinicians and health workers who work in remote practice, including videos featuring experienced practitioners sharing insights and tips on engaging with young people on the need to test regularly for STIs and BBVs. These resources are available here.
  • Monitoring and reporting of STI and BBV testing and treatment rates — nominated services participating in the Project provided access to routine clinical and non-identifiable laboratory testing data. This data was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the project in increasing STI and BBV testing rates.

National coordination

The Project was led by Associate Professor James Ward, Head of Infectious Diseases Research – Aboriginal Health, SAHMRI (now Professor, School of Public Health, University of Queensland).

Project consortia

The Project was overseen by a consortia consisting of representatives from SAHMRI and the state and regional Aboriginal Health Councils representing Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services that provide services to remote and very remote communities located in Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia:

Participating communities

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in remote and very remote areas of South Australia, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia were invited to participate in the Project, including in health promotion, youth peer education, monitoring and clinician support activities.

To participate in the Project, health services needed to:

  • serve a community that has a high prevalence of STIs or BBVs and more than 150 Aboriginal young people between 15 and 29 years
  • serve an area of South Australia, Queensland, Northern Territory, or Western Australia classified as a ‘remote’ or ‘very remote’ area
  • be willing to utilise electronic medical records to extract STI and BBV testing data, and be willing to provide access to non-identifiable laboratory testing data.

Remote communities across Australia – where are they?

Discrete Indigenous Communities by Usual Population – ABS, 2006 census data