IAHP - Indigenous Animal Health Programme
To provide free veterinary services to indigenous communities within Australia, with the aim of improving animal welfare, lowering the risk of zoonotic diseases and reducing the number of un-owned dogs.
Increase the understanding of basic animal welfare within the local community, including school aged community members, to provide the foundation for improved animal welfare over the longer-term.
There are over 600 remote Indigenous communities in Australia and most of these have significant dog populations. There are very few veterinary clinics here and most animals go without veterinary treatment.
As a way to fill the veterinary care gap and also to help improve animal welfare standards and education over the longer-term, IAHP was established and granted unique access to the community on restricted land called Bung Yarnda, in Victoria, South Australia.
The IAHP project provides 6 vital elements when working with local communities:
Dog population survey - Carried out to enable the planning of a sterilisation programme and as an indicator of the success of the project.
Free veterinary clinics - Including consultations, supply of veterinary medicine and emergency treatment and surgery, where needed.
Dog population control management - Carrying out a dog sterilisation programme to manage the number of free-roaming dogs in the area and to help improve the health of the animals.
Vaccination campaign - Providing a mass dog vaccination programme against parvovirus, distemper and infectious canine hepatitis.
Parasite control - All dogs treated via the sterilisation or vaccination programmes are also provided with a monthly prescription to treat hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, fleas and ticks.
Education campaign - Community educators work with local children and owners of animals to introduce a basic knowledge of animal welfare and responsible ownership principles.
With the IAHP trial clinic in Bung Yarnda completed and valuable relationships built, the project is now looking to expand the concept in to more Aboriginal communities.
With support for the Bung Yarnda community continuing, permissions have now been granted to work with a community in an area called Shepparton. A veterinary team visited this area in August 2018 to establish baseline data and create a 3 year project plan which will see Wildlife & Welfare providing 4 free health clinics per year until the end of 2021.
IAHP plans to deliver this service to all Indigenous community animals in Victoria within five years. Further to this, the aim is to expand to other states with a pressing need for this type of work – into Northern Territory, Western Australia, Groot Eylandt and Far North Queensland.