Towards the end of the 46th Parliament, people from across Australia came together for a momentous hepatitis B event. You can watch the event here. Speakers included:

  • Lien Tran, World Hepatitis Alliance & Australia’s first National Hepatitis B Policy Forum for People with Lived Experience
  • Hep B PAST Team, Northern Territory
  • Hon Dr David Gillespie MP, Minister for Regional Health
  • Ms Ged Kearney MP, Shadow Assistant Minister for Health and Ageing
  • Prof Ben Cowie, WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis
  • Carrie Fowlie, Hepatitis Australia

Some key messages from the event included:

  • Over 222,000 Australians are living with chronic hepatitis B, the most prevalent blood-borne virus in Australia and the world.
  • There are major inequities in the prevalence of hepatitis B across Australia.
  • Australia has been held up as a global leader in blood-borne virus responses; however, our response to hepatitis B has not been commensurate with those achievements and we are not meeting National Hepatitis B Strategy’s 2022 targets or the 2030 elimination targets.
  • Australia needs to establish a hepatitis B specific community workforce.
  • We have challenges, but we have opportunities.
  • Where communities are resourced and mobilised to act on hepatitis B, we achieve much more effective results. For example, the Hep B PAST Team in the Northern Territory, have achieved more than double the care and treatment uptake compared to the national average.
  • By investing well and intensifying our responses to hepatitis B, particularly in partnership with communities, we can take examples of success and transform the response to hepatitis B for all Australians.
  • We have the tools for appropriate management of hepatitis B and it is amongst the most cost-effective cancer prevention strategies that Australia can invest in.
  • By making those investments we can transform the lives of Australians and show the same sort of global leadership that we have in our other blood-borne virus responses.
  • Community engagement and leadership of the response, and resourcing of the community workforce are hallmarks of how Australia has made world-leading achievements in other blood-borne virus responses and is urgently needed for hepatitis B.

The event showcased bi-partisan support:

Dr David Gillespie MP, Minister for Regional Health, representing the Federal Minister for Health reiterated the Australian Government’s commitment to elimination by 2030 which is enshrined in the national hepatitis strategies, and also said:

“Our national hepatitis strategies are premised on partnership with the affected communities, Hepatitis Australia as the national peak, clinicians and research organisations.

The Third National Hepatitis B Strategy is currently being refreshed. The next strategy is anticipated to focus on workforce development and growth. Hepatitis Australia is a key stakeholder and well engaged in the strategy redevelopment process.

People impacted by viral hepatitis are central to an effective national response. Our partnerships with affected communities give us a better understanding and connection with the diverse communities impacted by viral hepatitis, and these partnerships are what has helped us achieve our successes to date.”

Shadow Assistant Minister for Health and Ageing Ms Ged Kearney MP representing the Shadow Minister for Health spoke to the Opposition’s commitment to elimination and also said:

“We can eliminate hepatitis B…One thing that leapt out for me was the importance of community-led solutions… We have seen this work so beautifully with AIDS, we knew it worked with COVID-19, and it can work with so many diseases and of course specifically with hepatitis B. Thank you for highlighting that it is very important that we make sure that community-led are the centre of any strategy and policy for the future and an elected Labor Government would make sure that that was the case.”

We look forward to engaging with the new members of the 47th Parliament, including forming a new Parliamentary Friends Group, to achieve Australia’s 2030 viral hepatitis elimination goals and leave no-one behind.

Carrie Fowlie
CEO, Hepatitis Australia

The event was proudly supported by Hepatitis Australia, ASHM, AIVL, Kirby Institute, Doherty Institute, Burnet Institute, Centre for Social Research in Health UNSW, Australasian Hepatology Association, ASID, ACH2, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, Australian Centre for Hepatitis Virology, WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis VIDRL, Menzies School of Health Research.