Australia can achieve its 2030 viral hepatitis elimination goals! 

The Australian Government is to be commended on the extensive multi-year consultation process that was undertaken in the development of the National Hepatitis B Strategy 2023-2030 and the National Hepatitis C Strategy 2023-2030. Critically, the community has been deeply involved every step of the way. These processes have included:  

  • Two reviews by the Blood Borne Virus and Sexually Transmissible Infections Standing Committee (BBVSS).    
  • The Department of Health and Aged Care’s targeted stakeholder consultation process concluding in September 2022 (which received detailed submissions from a broad range of stakeholders, including community, research organisations and clinician representative bodies).   
  • The consensus-based targets development process which brought together community, researchers, clinicians, and the Commonwealth and State and Territory governments to develop the targets which were included in the public consultation draft.    
  • The Department of Health and Aged Care’s public consultation process concluding in June 2023 (which received over 50 submissions from a wide range of community, research, government and clinical stakeholders).     

Hepatitis Australia strongly supports these strategies, and this support is echoed in the submissions made via the public consultation process.   

The Australian Government has the confidence of the community and the sector with these strategies. They appropriately centre affected communities and the community-led response and they create a critical enabling environment for policies, programs and innovation that will take Australia to its 2030 elimination goal.

Unfortunately, these strategies are already running 12 months behind schedule and the consequences of this have proven very significant for the community. The flow on effects of this have included no allocated resourcing in the 2023-24 Federal Budget which has stifled activity and action to progress towards Australia’s fast-approaching 2030 elimination goal. It has also left States and Territories, some of whom are waiting on these national strategies to formulate their own approaches, without a clear national framework from which to guide their own state-based complementary strategies, implementation plans and resourcing.   

The importance of the timeline to publicly release these documents without further delay cannot be understated.  

The absence of a national policy framework has made it very difficult to undertake case making that progress Australia’s elimination commitment, and we are very thoughtful of the upcoming 2024 Federal Budget process and the need to ensure a secured national policy framework to support resource allocation and enable implementation.   

Hepatitis Australia would like to specifically acknowledge the way that the Australia Department of Health and Aged Care (which is now of the Interim Australian Centre for Disease Control) has worked in partnership with the community throughout the national strategies development process. The process and outcome reflect global best practice that everyone involved can be proud of contributing to.  

The national hepatitis strategies are at a very mature stage of development, having undergone extensive processes, and are almost complete with the last stage being the formal government approval processes. However, there is a need for some pressure from everyone to support the prioritisation and public release of these strategies. 

Hepatitis Australia, as a key stakeholder in the national response, is proud to have supported and led the ongoing stewardship of this process.

Hepatitis Australia has worked closely and collaboratively with people with lived experience, affected communities, Hepatitis Australia members, national BBV and STI peak bodies, the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, research centres, clinician representative organisations, and other key stakeholders to provide substantial input into the development of the next National Hepatitis B Strategy 2023-2030 and National Hepatitis C Strategy 2023-2030. You can read more about this on pages 26 in the table of the CEO’s report and on pages 32-34 of Hepatitis Australia 2022-2023 Annual Report here.

Hepatitis Australia looks forward to the public release of the strategies and hopes to formally launch them alongside the Australian Government on World Hepatitis Day 2024.

January 2024