Partnerships and collaborations

The Multijurisdictional Syphilis Outbreak Group was formed in 2015, in response to the ongoing outbreak of syphilis among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in areas of northern Australia. The Group has been integral in guiding development of the syphilis campaign, providing advice on:

  • epidemiology of the outbreak – notifications, target age, gender, location of notifications
  • synergising the campaign with existing activities to address the outbreak
  • maximising engagement of primary health care services
  • drawing on health services’ capability and capacity
  • medical, clinical and other technical aspects of syphilis testing, treatment and management
  • draft campaign components
  • framing campaign objectives and vision.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations have been involved in all aspects of the campaign development and rollout, including focus testing of the campaign name, messaging and content to ensure messaging and wording is appropriate for different communities .

Focus testing was conducted for the Young, deadly, syphilis free project was conducted by ANTHYM – Aboriginal Nations Torres Strait Islander HIV Youth Mob. 100 people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the Kimberley, Northern Territory and Queensland participated in the focus testing.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) are integral to rollout of the campaign, maximising community engagement by working with community partners in remote communities, such as youth organisations and Aboriginal community councils.

Both mainstream health services and ACCHOs  are being encouraged to promote STI testing at every opportunity – including adult health check days, adolescent health days and as part of antenatal testing. SAHMRI is working with participating Aboriginal health services as well as other primary health services to provide outreach activities to profile the Young, deadly, syphilis free campaign in efforts to encourage young people to test for syphilis and other STIs, and to upscale the use of syphilis point of care tests (on-site rapid tests).

Participating health services and key influencers in communities affected by the syphilis outbreak are kept up to date on the campaign’s rollout, new data and media reports via regular e-newsletters.

Campaign coordination

The Young Deadly Syphilis Free campaign project is led by Professor James Ward – Director, UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health / Professor, School of Public Health, University of Queensland.