Legislative Council: Wednesday, June 14, 2023


APY Lands Tuberculosis Outbreak

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:22): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs about health on the APY lands.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Earlier this year, SA Health declared an outbreak of tuberculosis on the APY lands and the most recent report was provided in March with a count of more than 10 cases in the community. I appreciate that the minister has provided a written explanation to one of my colleagues in response to a range of questions that she has put to him. My questions for the minister are:

1. When was the last time he was briefed on the matter?

2. Can he advise what the case peak numbers were?

3. When does the government expect the outbreak to be concluded?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:23): I thank the honourable member for her question. I believe there was a written response to some elements of questions about the tuberculosis outbreak on the APY lands provided recently. I don't have a date of an exact briefing, but some time in the last couple of months would have been my latest briefing on the matter. I want to thank SA Health and particularly the public health team that have provided me and my office with updates on the matter.

SA Health, I know, has undertaken steps to work with communities to manage the tuberculosis outbreak that has been found in the APY lands. It has been a collaboration between SA Tuberculosis Services, the Communicable Disease Control Branch, the COVID planning and response branch and SA Health's corporate communications working together to manage the outbreak. I know that the Chief Public Health Officer and staff from SA Health have visited the APY lands in relation to the outbreak.

The outbreak was first identified, I'm informed, in around May 2022. Earlier this year, there were 12 confirmed cases linked to the outbreak. Cases, I'm informed, linked to the outbreak have been notified in South Australia, Northern Territory and Western Australia. That part of the world, as many people who have visited there know, borders both the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

The treatment for active tuberculosis, I am informed by SA Health, is prolonged, lasting between six and 12 months. Treatment for latent tuberculosis is between three and nine months' duration, so the program that SA Health are undertaking is for long-term treatment, which in very remote areas comes with its own challenges. I am happy to go back and get an updated figure about where the outbreak is and the number of cases that have been linked to this particular outbreak and bring back an updated version for the member.