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Tuesday, 4 October 1983
Page: 1324

Question No. 120

Dr Everingham asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice, on 11 May 1983:

(1) Has his attention been drawn to a report in the Weekend Australian, 23-24 April 1983, page 5, that a quarter of the Mornington Island community suffers from hepatitis B.

(2) Has his attention also been drawn to the availability of a new vaccine from Commonwealth Serum Laboratories to reduce the severity of hepatitis B.

(3) If so, will he engage one or more of the field workers experienced with the trachoma survey in Queensland and officers of an Aboriginal-run health service to (a) discuss with Mornington Island people their wishes with regard to a survey of measures to reduce infectious diseases, (b) provide audiovisual material in their own language on nutrition, hygiene and cultural stresses and ( c) invite visitors to the Island to participate in any vaccination plans as a pilot program for eventual control of health services by Aboriginals.

Mr Holding —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes.

(2) Yes. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) announced its recommendations on the use of the vaccine on 17 August.

(3) (a), (b) and (c). Public health measures are primarily a matter for the State Health Department, which has been contacted about the issues raised in the Honourable Member's question. Since the announcement of the NHMRC's recommendations, I have also written to the State Minister. It is open to the Mornington Island Council to seek assistance if it wishes to engage personnel from an Aboriginal Medical Services or other experience in the Trachoma Program, in addition to existing health services.