Partnership and co-design: the national enhanced response to the infectious syphilis outbreak

Partnership and co-design: the national enhanced response to the infectious syphilis outbreak Conference Paper

15th National Rural Health Conference: Better together!

  • Author(s): de Toca, Lucas, Casey, Dawn
  • Secondary Author(s): Coleman, Leanne
  • Published: 2019

Abstract: An outbreak of infectious syphilis began in northern Queensland in January 2011, extending to the Northern Territory in July 2013, the Kimberley in Western Australia in June 2014 and since November 2016 the Western, Eyre and Far North regions of South Australia. Since the commencement of the syphilis outbreak in 2011 to 31 July 2018, there have been 2,228 cases of infectious syphilis and 14 congenital syphilis cases associated with the outbreak regions of northern and central Australia. In December 2017, the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC) endorsed a National Strategic Approach and Action Plan to address the disproportionately high rates of syphilis and other blood-borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections in regional and remote Indigenous communities. The Action Plan was developed in consultation with affected jurisdictions, NACCHO and key stakeholders. The Australian Government has committed $8.8 million in funding over three years (2017-18 to 2019-20) to be delivered through Aboriginal community-controlled health services (ACCHS) in the outbreak regions. The types of projects funded include: workforce supplementation and implementation costs for the roll out of the ‘Test and Treat’ model, including point-of-care test and treatment medication, negotiated on a case by case basis with each ACCHS in the outbreak region; development and roll out of a ‘train the trainer’ model to upskill the existing and the supplemented workforce in both the ‘Test and Treat’ model and sexual health in general; culturally appropriate health, communication and education materials. The Department of Health established an Enhanced Response Unit to coordinate the Australian Government’s contribution to the Action Plan. The Unit worked closely with NACCHO, state and territory public health authorities, and ACCHS across the affected areas to develop locally-relevant models to rollout a phased approach to the response. Close collaboration between Health and the ACCHS sector, led by NACCHO, was fundamental for the design of this response. Every aspect of this activity followed a bottom-up design methodology, in which the selection of sites, development of specific on-the-ground workforce models, and organisation of regional coordination happened in partnership between the services and Commonwealth and state and territory governments. Extensive consultation, including workshops in four states and territories was fundamental for the planning of the staged rollout. In this presentation we will outline the specifics of this innovative co-design model, and the strengths of meaningful partnership between government departments and the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector.

Cite this document

Suggested Citation
de Toca, Lucas, Casey, Dawn, 2019, Partnership and co-design: the national enhanced response to the infectious syphilis outbreak, Conference Paper, viewed 30 November 2023,

Endnote Mendeley Zotero Export Google Scholar

Share this page

Search again