Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus News Alert No 57 : May 11 #OurJobProtectOurMob : PM @ScottMorrisonMP Launches 3-step plan provides a pathway for jurisdictions to move towards COVID safe communities but special arrangements will need to be continued in our Indigenous biosecurity areas

1.PM Press Release 3 step-plan

2.Download the COVIDSafe app

3.How testing works and why it’s so important

4.Better testing for remote communities

5.Lifting restrictions doesn’t mean we are in the clear

6. Practising and sharing culture

7.Support for kids + mental health tips and resources

1.PM Press Release 3 step-plan

Australian governments are taking a measured approach

Our three-step plan provides a pathway for jurisdictions to move towards COVID safe communities in a way that best suits their individual circumstances.

States and territories are able to move between the steps on the pathway at different times, in line with their current public health situation and local conditions.

They’ll need to maintain steady case numbers and be able to rapidly contain outbreaks, which we’re set to do – with our enhanced testing regime, strengthened health surge capacity, and improved ability to quickly identify people who may have been exposed to the virus.

Download PM’s Press Release

PM Press Release

For each of the major areas of restrictions we have set out three key steps between where we are now and where we want to be.

  • Step 1 will focus on carefully reopening the economy, and giving Australians opportunities to return to work and social activities, including gatherings of up to 10 people, up to 5 visitors in the family home and some local and regional travel
  • Step 2 builds on this with gatherings of up to 20, and more businesses reopening, including gyms, beauty services and entertainment venues like galleries and cinemas.
  • Step 3 will see a transition to COVID safe ways of living and working, with gatherings of up to 100 people permitted. Arrangements under step 3 will be the ‘new normal’ while the virus remains a threat. International travel and mass gatherings over 100 people will remain restricted.

detailed plan of the steps (PDF 174 KB), as well as a summary (PDF 175 KB), is attached.

Under the three-step plan, states and territories continue to make decisions to their individual circumstances and local conditions. Example Queensland

Jurisdictions may ease restrictions at a different pace. Individuals and business should look to local authorities for the most up to date information, or visit  www.australia.gov.au to be linked to state and territory resources.

Special arrangements will need to be continued in Indigenous biosecurity areas and for vulnerable groups.

You are still required to meet entry requirements before going into certain remote community areas too. You can find more information about requirements in each area here:

2.Download the new COVIDSafe app

There is a new phone app called COVIDSafe you can now download.

1. Search ‘COVIDSafe’ in the Apple or Google Play store

2. You will need to enter:

  • a name
  • age group
  • phone number and
  • postcode.

If you’re not sure of your postcode, you can look it up at auspost.com.au/postcode

3. Once the app is installed, you don’t need to do anything else other than keep it running in the background and your Bluetooth on. It will work automatically.

3.How testing works and why it’s so important

Getting tested for coronavirus is really important, not just for your own health, but for the safety of the entire community. Lots of testing allows health officials get a better understanding about how the virus is spreading in the community. It also helps officials to be able to find the virus and stop it spreading.

It’s important to get tested if you start feeling unwell. Don’t wait until you are really sick, get tested at the first sign that you may be getting sick or coming down with a cold or flu.  Call your GP or local medical service to find out where you can get tested in your area.

There are two main types of testing for coronavirus, a swab test and a blood test. The swab test is the most common type being used in Australia.  A swab is taken from the throat or the back of the nose, and then tested for the virus.

Testing is happening in different places and in different ways, depending on where you live. Common places to be able to get tested include a medical centre or the medical service, a GP clinic or respiratory clinic and a hospital.

You may need to book in order to get tested depending on where you live and what testing is available in your area. Once you are tested you should stay away from others until you get your test results.  You will be told when and how you will get your results.

Fiona Jose from Cape York Partnerships
4.Better testing for remote communities

To help test for coronavirus more quickly, the Australian Government is investing $3.3 million to establish a COVID-19 Remote Point of Care Testing Program for remote, and rural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The Program has been developed in close consultation with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and state and territory governments that have been actively involved in site selection to ensure no community is more than 2-3 hours’ drive from a testing facility.

Eighty three testing sites will be set up, with an additional 50 testing machines being delivered to communities that need them the most. The test involves a simple swab taken from inside a person’s nose. More locations for test machines means that even if there is not one in your community, there will be one close by.  Getting test results will take less than an hour, meaning results can be given to people at the same time and place where their testing takes place.

Overall point of care test machines in remote communities will makes it faster to find out if someone has coronavirus, and make it less likely to spread to other people while they are waiting for the test results.

5.Lifting restrictions doesn’t mean we are in the clear

The number of new cases of coronavirus being detected has now stayed low enough for health officials to feel confident that Australia is ‘flattening the curve’ – which means slowing the spread of the virus to a level that keeps us much safer and protects our health system from becoming overworked.

In response to the lower numbers of cases, some states and territories are beginning to relax some of the restrictions that have been in place around where we can go in public and how many people we can spend time with. Some of the businesses that have been asked to close will soon be allowed to re-open. For more information visit Health Direct.

However, easing restrictions doesn’t mean we can all now relax and start getting back to living how we once did – we still have a long way to go.

Coronavirus is still a danger to our health, especially the health of Elders and those who are living with health problems.

We still have to limit the number of people we spend time with, keep a safe distance from people when we are out, practise good hygiene like sneezing and coughing into our elbows, properly washing our hands and making sure we get tested as soon as we start to feel unwell. Importantly, if we feel sick we must stay home and away from other people.

If we don’t do this, the number of cases could begin to rise quickly and put our communities at a greater risk. Make sure to keep up to date with the latest information about the restrictions which are in place in your state or territory.

You are still required to meet entry requirements before going into certain remote community areas too. You can find more information about requirements in each area here:

6.Practising and sharing culture

Coronavirus has had a big impact on the way we practise ceremony and culture, which has been a very difficult change for many of us to go through.

However, we can also find positives to come from these challenging times. For example, the current situation gives us an opportunity to finds new ways to teach and share culture. Some of these new ways may even end up playing a role in helping to keep culture strong for future generations.

A big part of this is embracing technologies, but using them in our own way, and adapting them to our cultures. For example, we can use video conferencing technology like ‘Zoom’ to continue giving lessons in culture. We can use mobile phones or laptop computers to send live videos of us carving, painting, weaving, and have others watch on.

Of course, it won’t be exactly the same, and won’t replace what we have done for thousands of years, but it will give us more ways to share culture in future.

Coronavirus can’t stop us from dancing, singing, telling stories, weaving, carving, painting or any of the other many important features of our cultures.

Take some time to connect to your family, community and culture while we’re spending more time at home.

7.Support for kids + mental health tips and resources  

At the moment, many of us are spending a lot more time at home with our kids. Our children’s lives have also been turned upside down with so many now studying from home and not being able to go outside as much, or visit friends.

Your kids may also be feeling stressed and anxious about the changes to our lives. This is all very normal. However, it means as adults, carers and parents, more than ever, we need to support them, guide them and talk with them about what is going on.

The following sites provide valuable resources:

  • emergingminds.com.au has some resources to help you talk to your children about the coronavirus pandemic, including videos, podcasts and fact sheets.
  • Beyond Blue also has some very useful information when you are talking to young people about coronavirus.
  • Be mindful to take breaks from the 24 hour news cycle. By managing the number of news stories you hear, see or read about coronavirus you can help to reduce your stress levels and anxiety.  Also, if you find the amount of time you spend online or on social media is beginning to affect your mental health, ‘Headspace’ has some helpful tips about how to keep a healthy balance and reduce any of the negative mental health effects.

For many of us, coronavirus has had a big impact on our work and may be causing added financial problems and stress. If you would like to access resources around managing debt and financial hardships, the National Debt Helpline’s Survival Guide page has a number of links and useful information to point you in right direction to get support. Help is available.

You can also visit the Services Australia web page for information on payments and support for Indigenous Australians

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