Health group: Judge them by what they do, not what they say


25107 AMSANT pic SM
The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT this evening accepted the Fitzgerald Social Change Award at the NT Human Rights Awards, yet it consistently fails to provide essential information to the public.
AMSANT, which represents 26 services throughout the NT, recently issued two media releases: One about an outbreak of syphilis in the NT, clamouring for more resources, which we published on November 16; and the second release was about remote services having to close because there is no or inadequate police protection for staff. We published that report on November 29.
The second release named Haasts Bluff west of Alice Springs. We asked which other communities are affected.
And we also asked where the syphilis outbreak had occurred.
We contacted David Cooper, AMSANT’s Manager Research Advocacy Policy, nominated on the releases as the contact person, several times by leaving phone messages, by email (to the address provided on the releases), and by ringing him, reaching him in person once,  getting his answering machine on the other occasions. The writer put the questions to him and he undertook to obtain and communicate the information.
He did not.
We spoke to and emailed staff at the AMSANT office several times, leaving messages for the the organisation’s CEO John Paterson to get back to us. No luck.
AMSANT’s 2018 financial report lists receiving grants amounting to $7.9m as well as cash and cash equivalent reserves amounting to $2.8m.
AMSANT’s annual report says it aspires to having “a strong organisational culture matched to high achievement [that] must also be underpinned by robust and accountable policy”.
The awards, known as the “Fitzgeralds,” are named after Queensland’s former Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Tony Fitzgerald.
We will report the information we have requested if and when AMSANT provides it.
Image from the AMSANT annual report.


  1. $2.8m reserve cash by itself is misleading Erwin.
    Liabilities are pretty much equal in size. Check / report the full balance sheet mate.

  2. @ Tommy Jagamara: As The Centre’s recognised medium for civilised debate on important issues we’re more than happy to publish your comment.
    We now look forward, mate, to use any influence you may have to urge AMSANT to provide the information we have asked for, and which the public has a right to know.
    Erwin Chlanda, Editor.

  3. Erwin, I want to respond to this article but only on the syphilis epidemic which is where I am able to comment.
    First there is ample public information regarding the syphilis outbreak that has now been going for over seven years in the north and central south of Australia.
    I might add that has been reported publicly often and sensitively in multiple media outlets during this period. A quick search for this and you would find information see here for example.
    In regard to AMSANT clamouring for more funding, in fact their press release clearly states that additional funding is required for the NT Communicable Disease Control branch for the NT syphilis register, as well as extra capacity for NT Government clinics in affected areas.
    Their plea was for not clamouring for additional resources as you imply for their sector.
    Without additional capacity in mainstream services delivering on this front the efforts of the Aboriginal Sector that AMSANT represents are likely to be diluted because only one sector not being able to address the outbreak simultaneously.
    I hope that reporting and editorial stewardship at Alice Springs News Online can prevail in the future.

  4. James Ward: Thank you for your comment. “Reporting and editorial stewardship” as you put it rely on reasonable questions on matters in the public interest being answered. We are still waiting for AMSANT’s replies.
    Erwin Chlanda, Editor.


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