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New building helps the fight against trachoma

11/10/2017By Matthew Woodley
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The continuing fight against trachoma in Indigenous communities has taken another positive step, with the handover of a public amenities building to the Yalata Aboriginal community in South Australia.


“Tullawon Health Service, with support from the Army and Australian Trachoma Alliance, has led the development of a community owned, culturally sensitive and sustainable program to eliminate trachoma.”
Major General Michael Jeffery

The significant event marks the culmination of a two-year program to address the key causes of the debilitating bacterial eye infection, which affects members in approximately 60% of Australia’s remote Indigenous communities.

Australia remains the only high-income country to still have trachoma.

In an effort to combat the infection, the Yalata community and Tullawon Health Service have implemented the Australian Trachoma Alliance (ATA)’s Safe Eyes Project, which includes an emphasis on improvements in hygiene practices and living conditions. The new amenities building – designed, constructed and funded by the Army – forms the most visible part of this initiative.

“The Safe Eyes program relies upon the effective engagement, ownership and leadership of the community to address hygiene and environmental health factors which lead to the spread of trachoma and other hygiene related disease,” chair of the ATA, Major General Michael Jeffery, said.

“In Yalata, Tullawon Health Service, with support from the Army and Australian Trachoma Alliance, has led the development of a community owned, culturally sensitive and sustainable program to eliminate trachoma, with significant changes in public health behaviours resulting.”



“This has been a huge win. Not only do the people of Yalata have access to this facility, but they provide culturally appropriate solutions to the spreading of Trachoma.”
Joanne Badke, Tullawon Health Service CEO

The CEO of the Tullawon Health Service Ms Joanne Badke added that the program had been a successful platform in the effort to eliminate trachoma in the community.

“This has been a huge win. Not only do the people of Yalata have access to this facility, but they provide culturally appropriate solutions to the spreading of trachoma,” she said.

“The program provides education to the community on hygiene practices, provided hand sanitisation stations throughout community, addresses environmental health barriers, embedded good practices in the community’s child and maternal health program and has given us a brand new public amenities building to service the Yalata community and visiting communities to reduce the spreading of communicable disease.”

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The public amenities building includes toilet facilities, showers and two club room spaces.

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