The Remote STI and BBV Project

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) has been funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health to develop and deliver the Remote STI and BBV Project – Young, deadly, STI & BBV free.

The Project is comprised of a set of interrelated activities which aim 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.

Project resources and activities, including this website, have been 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.

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

The project is funded from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2019.

Project components

Project activities seek 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.

To do this, 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 is being developed, targeting young people aged 15 to 29 years living in remote and very remote Aboriginal communities. The Peer Education Program will be trialed in 25 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 have been developed, as well as resources for people of influence in the community – including parents, Elders, teachers and mentors. 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.
  • Peer education for clinicians – clinicians will be encouraged to share experiences and insights into best practice in communicating with young people regarding STI and BBV risk behaviours, sex and sexuality, with the aim of normalising sexual health checks. Multi-disciplinary ‘clinician champions’ will provide a supportive network for improved clinical and organisational practice.
  • Monitoring and reporting of STI and BBV testing and treatment rates – nominated participating services will provide access to routine clinical and non-identifiable laboratory testing data. This data will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the project in increasing STI and BBV testing rates.

National coordination

The Remote STI and BBV Project is led by Associate Professor James Ward, Head of Infectious Diseases Research – Aboriginal Health, SAHMRI. The National Project Coordinator is Jessica Thomas, SAHMRI, who oversees the project across jurisdictions, providing national coordination of project development and implementation, and support for the project’s Regional Coordinators.

Regional coordination

The Project has funded state and territory Aboriginal health councils to employ Regional Coordinators. Each Regional Coordinator has extensive knowledge and experience of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Project consortia

The STI and BBV Project is 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 have been invited to participate in the Remote STI and BBV Project, including in health promotion, youth peer education, monitoring and clinician support activities.

To participate in the Project, health services must:

  • 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.