NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #CoronaVirus News Alert No 21 #KeepOurMobSafe : What are the remote area travel restrictions? Frequently Asked 15 Questions

  1. What are the remote area travel restrictions?
  2. Why is this being done?
  3. What is happening everywhere in Australia?
  4. When to they start and when do they end?
  5. What are the areas? (see attached maps)
  6. How do the restrictions work? (see attached flow chart)
  7. How do they affect community people in community?
  8. How do they affect community people outside of the areas?
  9. How will services still being provided?
  10. Can I travel between my homeland and community?
  11. What about other essential services or activities?
  12. What about construction activities?
  13. Does this effect pastoralists and miners?
  14. Who can I talk to for more information?
  15. More information and resources

See NACCHO Corona Virus Home Page

Read all 21 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Coronas Virus Alerts HERE

What are the remote area travel restrictions?

On 20 March 2020, the National Cabinet provided in-principle agreement to the Commonwealth Minister for Health taking action under the Commonwealth Biosecurity Act 2015 to restrict travel into remote Indigenous communities to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

States and territories have nominated areas in consultation with Indigenous communities, and emergency requirements determined under the Biosecurity Act 2015 will restrict persons from entering those nominated areas from 11:59pm AEDT Thursday 26 March 2020.

This follows the decisions of a number of Indigenous communities and Governments to implement similar measures.

State and Territory Hotlines and Contact Details

Northern Territory: 1800 518 189 remote travel hotline

Western Australia: Covid19rcr@communities.wa.gov.au

Queensland: 13 QGOV (13 7468)

South Australia: 1800 253 787

Why is this being done?

These restrictions are to protect some of our most vulnerable Australians.

The restrictions have been requested by many leaders, communities and organisations.

Isolation and remoteness offer opportunities for delaying or potentially preventing an outbreak of COVID-19 in remote communities. However, high mobility of community members and a reliance on visiting and outreach activities and services increase the risk of COVID-19 occurring in these communities.

These rules are aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 in remote communities and to rapidly address outbreaks.

What is happening everywhere in Australia?

Governments are focused on working together to slow the spread of COVID-19 to save lives. Every extra bit of time allows us to better prepare our health system and put measures in place to protect Australian lives.

We will be living with this virus for at least six months, so social distancing measures to slow this virus down must be sustainable for at least that long to protect Australian lives, allow Australia to keep functioning and keep Australians in jobs.

Practicing good hygiene and keeping a healthy physical distance between individuals is our most powerful weapon in fighting this virus and saving lives. Some members of the community who are disregarding social distancing measures are putting the lives of older and vulnerable Australians at risk.

To slow the spread, everyone must implement appropriate social distancing in accordance with state and territory laws. We need every Australian to do their bit to save the lives of other Australians.

When to they start and when do they end?

Restrictions to travel to remote areas to protect community members from COVID-19 came into effect at 11.59 PM AEDT Thursday 26 March 2020.

The restrictions currently end on 18 June 2020 under the Biosecurity Act. This period can be extended if considered necessary.

What are the areas? 

States and Territories have nominated areas in consultation with Indigenous communities where this was possible in the time available.

The designated remote areas include most of the Northern Territory, except the major urban centres and pastoral properties; north and east Western Australia; the north-west of South Australia and selected communities; and in Queensland Cape York Peninsula, the Torres Strait, western Gulf and other communities.

More areas may be added, including in other States.

The designated areas are indicated on the following maps:

How do the restrictions work? (see attached flow chart)

Consistent with expert health guidance, individuals will be required to undergo a minimum period of isolation (currently 14 days) before entry or re-entry into the area will be allowed.

There will be exemptions for essential activities. Exempted people still need to not have any of the signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and in the 14 days immediately before entry, not been outside Australia. All people must take all reasonable steps to minimise exposure to other people.

How do they affect community people in community?

The safest place for community people is in their community, homeland or outstation.

If people are in community, they are encouraged to stay there. If they are away in town or the city, they should return home before Friday 27 March 2020.

How do they affect community people outside of the areas?

If people want to enter community after the restrictions come into place, they will need to self-isolate for 14 days before return. Isolation is from the general public.

State and Territory Governments are making arrangements to assist isolation.

If people leave their community now, they will not be able to return for 14 days once the restrictions start at 11.59 PM AEDT on Thursday 26 March 2020.

How will services still being provided?

Once the restrictions start, only essential service personnel will be exempt so they can keep delivering essential services.

These essential services include health care, education, domestic violence prevention, child protection, policing, emergency, local government – such as rubbish collection, Services Australia, correctional, funerary and courts.

Essential services also include operating, maintaining or repairing equipment for providing electricity, gas, water or telecommunications services; other essential infrastructure; delivering food, fuel, mail or medical supplies; obtaining medical care or medical supplies; and transporting freight to or from a place in the designated area.

Remember, all people entering designated remote areas still need to not have any of the signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and in the 14 days immediately before entry, not been outside Australia. All people must take all reasonable steps to minimise exposure to other people.

Governments and community organisations are working hard to ensure essential services continue in these communities.

Can I travel between my homeland and community?

Designated areas are generally large and include groups of communities and homelands/outstations. Travel within the designated area (including between islands within that area) is permitted and will not be disrupted with these restrictions. However, it is important that everyone tries to minimise travel and practises social distancing.

Local regulations and norms still apply for travel within those areas.

What about other essential services or activities?

Under the emergency requirements have nominated decision-makers who will be empowered to permit additional people to enter the community in certain circumstances with the advice of a Human Biosecurity expert.

Remember, all people entering designated remote areas still need to not have any of the signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and in the 14 days immediately before entry, not been outside Australia. All people must take all reasonable steps to minimise exposure to other people.

What about construction activities?

Some construction of houses and roads is underway. These activities will be able to continue to completion as an essential activity.

Does this effect pastoralists and miners?

With most of the Northern Territory nominated as a designated area, all pastoral leases are excluded.

Mining, oil and gas and related operations are classed as an essential activity. However, there is an additional requirement to strictly minimise the extent to which other persons in the area are exposed to the persons carrying out those operations through agreed protocols with a relevant biosecurity officer.

Who can I talk to for more information?

Implementation of these restrictions will be the responsibility of each jurisdiction. Hotlines and contact details for your State or Territory Governments are below.

More information and resources

State and Territory Hotlines and Contact Details

Northern Territory: 1800 518 189 remote travel hotline

Western Australia: Covid19rcr@communities.wa.gov.au

Queensland: 13 QGOV (13 7468)

South Australia: 1800 253 787

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #CoronaVirus News Alert No 20 #KeepOurMobSafe : Contributions from Dr Kalinda Griffiths, Dr Kris Rallah-Baker. Anyinginyi ACCHO ,@AIDAAustralia @ahmrc @TheAHCWA @SenatorDodson @CAACongress Dr Mark Wenitong @WWeno7

Please note to read the full media report CLICK  :”Read more HERE ” on each post

1.“ Coronavirus could have a “devastating” impact on remote communities “ Dr Kalinda Griffiths – a Yawuru woman and epidemiologist.

2.Indigenous doctors warn that COVID-19 racism will cost lives

3.We should have learned from past epidemics that the only way through this crisis is together :     Dr Kris Rallah-Baker.

4. UQ partners with Aboriginal health clinic to expose urgent needs for health housing to prevent coronavirus transmission.

5.AHMRC establishes COVID-19 for its NSW ACCHO Members. Plus Self Care Toolkit

6.AHCWA establishes COVID-19 for its WA ACCHO Members.

7.WA Communities are now closed.

8.Central Australian mob encouraged not to go to funerals or sorry camps

9.Dr Mark Wenitong daily COVID-19 : Message to ATSI Health Workers.

10. How long does COVID-19 last on surfaces.

See NACCHO Corona Virus Home Page

Read all 20 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Coronas Virus Alerts HERE

1.Coronavirus could have a “devastating” impact on remote communities says Dr Kalinda Griffiths – a Yawuru woman and epidemiologist

“ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remote communities could see significant and devastating impacts if an outbreak occurs in these areas.

This is due to several factors, including higher rates of chronic conditions in communities, living arrangements and limited access to health care.

We’re talking about people grappling with different environmental and living arrangements than other regions.

We are speaking about people who may be living in overcrowded houses or places where there might be communal approaches to living just generally.”

This means that disease transmission, within these communities, would likely be quicker and more widespread.

Coupled with underlying high rates of other health issues, including comorbidities, and reduced access to sufficient medical care, remote Aboriginal communities are vulnerable to COVID-19.

If you are in a remote community with a very limited clinical staff, questions arise as to the capabilities and services available in the event an outbreak occurs – so there need to be resources available in these instances.”

For UNSW Scientia Fellow Dr Kalinda Griffiths – a Yawuru woman and epidemiologist at the UNSW Centre for Big Data Research – this has brought into focus the critical role data plays in health, not just with the COVID-19 pandemic, “but also for other health issues, and particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities”.

Read more HERE

2.Indigenous doctors warn that COVID-19 racism will cost lives

Download to to read more 

Indigenous-Doctors-warn-that-racism-will-cost-lives-MEDIA-RELEASE

3.We should have learned from past epidemics that the only way through this crisis is together :Dr Kris Rallah-Baker.

 ” This is just the beginning of the crisis and we need to get through this together; Covid-19 has no regard for colour or creed. We risk losing more holders of the world’s oldest living culture, again. Probably time to give our First Nations a fair go, what do you think, Australia? “

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker B. Med, FRANZCO is a proud Yuggera/Warangu man, president of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association and Australia’s first Indigenous ophthalmologist

Read more HERE

4. UQ partners with Aboriginal health clinic to expose urgent needs for health housing to prevent coronavirus transmission.

Read more HERE

5.AHMRC establishes COVID-19 for its NSW ACCHO Members.

Read more HERE

Or Download the Selfcare Tool Kit

6.AHCWA establishes COVID-19 for its WA ACCHO Members.

The Aboriginal Health Council WA COVID-19 Response Toolkit is a framework for Aboriginal Medical Services & Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to ensure they are in the best position to deal with an outbreak of Coronavirus in their community

Read more HERE

7.WA Communities are now closed.

 

Read more HERE

8.Central Australian mob encouraged not to go to funerals or sorry camps

Read more HERE

9.Dr Mark Wenitong daily COVID-19 : Message to ATSI Health Workers

Message to ATSI Health Workers “I know this is a really hard time, I know you feel isolated and maybe even a little overwhelmed by this kind of pandemic that’s happening…we do acknowledge you, we do see what you do.”

Dr Mark Wenitong.

 

10. How long does COVID-19 last on surfaces.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth and #CoronaVirus News Alert No 19 #KeepOurMobSafe : Intro @JuliaGillard 10 Help/ supports from @beyondblue Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak plus managing your mental health while in self-isolation or quarantine

1.Try to maintain perspective

2.Find a healthy balance in relation to media coverage

3.Access good quality information

4.Try to maintain a practical and calm approach

5.Try not to make assumptions

6.Managing your mental health while in self-isolation or quarantine

7.Children and young people

8.Support for those experiencing financial hardship

9.Health care workers

10.Seek support

See NACCHO Corona Virus Home Page

Read all 18 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Coronas Virus Alerts HERE

“These are uncertain times. There are many unknowns.

As humans, we’re hardwired to crave stability. If you’re feeling worried and unsettled that is perfectly understandable.

I felt that myself during my recent period of self-isolation in London. At an event for young people called WE Day, I spent quite a bit of time with Sophie Trudeau, the First Lady of Canada.

When she became unwell and tested positive for COVID-19, I was concerned about potentially becoming sick a long way from home.

What I found reassuring was that the public health advice that was so clear.  The recommendation to me was to self-isolate for 14 days from the time of contact.

Fortunately, I stayed fit and well in that period and all my London friends and colleagues, as well as visiting Aussie mates, made sure I had food and stayed connected with video conferences, calls and silly messages.

On my return to Australia I will self-isolate for another 14 days, and I know family and friends will help me through.

For me, this experience has reinforced how a significant part of the solution to this pandemic rests with us.

The daily decisions we make now are critical and every single one of us has a part to play.

Our individual acts can have a powerful collective impact, helping protect those most at risk in our community.

Simple things really matter – good hand hygiene, avoiding mass gatherings, keeping a 1.5 metre distance between ourselves and others, and staying home if we’re unwell or if we’ve been in contact with someone who is.

Beyond Blue recognises and understands the feelings of anxiety, distress and concern many people may be experiencing in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and offers the following wellbeing advice.”

Julia Gillard Chair BeyondBlue : Read full Press Release Here

1.Try to maintain perspective

While it is reasonable for people to be concerned about the outbreak of coronavirus, try to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts around the world are working hard to contain the virus, treat those affected and develop a vaccine as quickly as possible.

2.Find a healthy balance in relation to media coverage

Being exposed to large volumes of negative information can heighten feelings of anxiety. While it’s important to stay informed, you may find it useful to limit your media intake if it is upsetting you or your family.

3.Access good quality information

It’s important to get accurate information from credible sources such as those listed below. This will also help you maintain perspective and feel more in control.

4.Try to maintain a practical and calm approach

Widespread panic can complicate efforts to manage the outbreak effectively. Do your best to stay calm and follow official advice, particularly around observing good hygiene habits.

The Australian Psychological Society has advice about maintaining positive mental health during the outbreak.

5.Try not to make assumptions

To contribute to a sense of community wellbeing, try to remember that the coronavirus can affect anyone regardless of their nationality or ethnicity and remember that those with the disease have not done anything wrong.

6.Managing your mental health while in self-isolation or quarantine

There are a number of ways to support your mental health during periods of self-isolation or quarantine.

  • Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation to slow the spread of the virus.
  • Remember that your effort is helping others in the community avoid contracting the virus.
  • Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues via email, social media, video conferencing or telephone.
  • Connect with others via the Beyond Blue forums thread: Coping during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.
  • Keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy foods.
  • Try to maintain physical activity.
  • Establish routines as best possible and try to view this period as a new experience that can bring health benefits.
  • For those working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance by allocating specific work hours, taking regular breaks and, if possible, establishing a dedicated work space.
  • Avoid news and social media if you find it distressing.

7.Children and young people

Families and caregivers of children and young people should discuss news of the virus with those in their care in an open and honest way. Try to relate the facts without causing alarm, and in a way that is appropriate for their age and temperament. It is important to listen to any questions they may have, to let them know that they are safe and that it’s normal to feel concerned.

If the media or the news is getting too much for them, encourage them to limit their exposure. This video has some useful tips for talking to young people about scary stuff in the news.

Beyond Blue’s Be You initiative has also developed the following resources to help educators support children and young people’s mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.

8.Support for those experiencing financial hardship

As the ongoing spread of the coronavirus continues to affect the global economy, many people in Australia are losing jobs, livelihoods and financial stability. For information and services provided by the Australian government, please visit Services Australia.

If you are experiencing financial hardship, National Debt Helpline offers free financial counselling.

9.Health care workers

Health care workers may feel extra stress during the COVID-19 outbreak. This is a normal response in these unprecedented circumstances. Such feelings are not a sign of weakness and it’s important to acknowledge this. There are practical ways to manage your mental health during this time, including:

  • getting enough rest during work hours and between shifts
  • eating healthy foods and engaging in physical activity
  • keeping in contact with colleagues, family and friends by phone or online
  • being aware of where you can access mental health support at work
  • if you’re a manager, trying to create mentally healthy work structures.

It’s important the general public recognises the pressure that health systems and workers themselves are under and takes steps to support them where possible. Following government advice about ways individuals can help slow the spread of the virus will support the health care workers who are saving lives and keeping people safe.

10.Seek support

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or stressed by news of the outbreak. We encourage people who have experienced mental health issues in the past to:

  • activate your support network
  • acknowledge feelings of distress
  • seek professional support early if you’re having difficulties.

For those already managing mental health issues, continue with your treatment plan and monitor for any new symptoms.

Social contact and maintaining routines can be supportive for our mental health and wellbeing. In circumstances where this is not possible, staying connected with friends and family online or by phone may assist. Beyond Blue also has a dedicated page on its forums about coping during the coronavirus outbreak.

Acknowledge feelings of distress and seek further professional support if required.

Beyond Blue has fact sheets about anxiety and offers other practical advice and resources at beyondblue.org.au.

The Beyond Blue Support Service offers short term counselling and referrals by phone and webchat on 1300 22 4636.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #CoronaVirus News Alert No 18 #KeepOurMobSafe : Contributions from @ScottMorrisonMP , @TheAHCWA Dr Jason Agostino @crikey_news @DonnaAhChee1 @CAACongress Dr @normanswan @WWeno7 @Apunipima

1.PM Press Release : Testing rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

2.Plea for tents ‘or anything’ to help with self-isolation in overcrowded Indigenous communities.

3.The coronavirus could decimate Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

4.Donna Ah Chee COVID19 CAAMA Radio.

5.Dr Norman Swan Link to Podcasts.

6.Dr Mark Wenitong Cape York COVID19 update

See NACCHO Corona Virus Home Page

Read all 18 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Coronas Virus Alerts HERE

Above image thanks to the team at AHCWA

“It seems to have been forgotten or missed that the large majority of cases in China spread within families and within households.

Yarrabah, about 50km from Cairns, has about 3,500 people but only 350 houses. Around 580 people are over the age of 50, and 80% of them have some form of chronic disease. There are 82 people over the ago of 70.

So while we are considered remote, we are only 50km from Cairns, a large population centre with a lot of tourists, as well as local people who’ve traveled overseas and returned.”

There are currently two Covid-19 cases being managed in Cairns.”

Dr Jason Agostino is medical advisor to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (Naccho), which has been pushing for governments to make isolation space available and pitch in to help build temporary accommodation. See Part 2 Below

Part 1.PM Press Release : Testing rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

The Prime Minister, state and territory Premiers and Chief Ministers continued their meeting on 25 March as the National Cabinet to discuss enhanced health measures to support our efforts to quickly test and contact trace coronavirus in our community.

Expansion of coronavirus testing criteria

Australian has one of the most rigorous coronavirus testing systems in the world. To further protect Australia, National Cabinet agreed to an Australian Health Principal Protection Committee (AHPPC) recommendation to expand the current coronavirus testing criteria to include testing people with fever or acute respiratory infection in:

  • all health workers
  • all aged/residential care workers
  • geographically localised areas where there is elevated risk of community transmission as defined by the local public health unit
  • where no community transmission is occurring, high risk settings where there are two or more plausibly-linked cases, for example:
    • aged and residential care
    • rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
    • detention centres/correctional facilities
    • boarding schools
    • military bases (including Navy ships) that have live-in

National Cabinet also agreed that testing will be expanded to include hospitalised patients with fever and acute respiratory symptoms of unknown cause, at the discretion of the treating clinician.

This is the minimum testing criteria. States and territories have the discretion to expand their own criteria for testing if they have capacity.

Download PM Press Release HERE

Prime Ministers Press Release March 26

2. Plea for tents ‘or anything’ to help with self-isolation in overcrowded Indigenous communities

Aboriginal doctors in regional centres are sounding the alarm about overcrowded housing as a “massive problem” that will make it very hard to stop the rapid spread of Covid-19, and are calling for the urgent provision of “good quality tents” or any safe place where people can isolate.

As territories and states including Queensland close their borders, Aboriginal health services said they must now secure the safety of vulnerable communities in regional areas, who are close to centres of infection.

They are asking the national cabinet to urgently approve plans for safe places where Aboriginal people can self-isolate or quarantine, including repurposing vacant hotels, motels, offices and rental properties.

“People are saying anything would do, even if we got some good quality tents,” Dr Jason Agostino, a GP and epidemiologist who works with the north Queensland community of Yarrabah, said. “It’s coming into dry season, and while that’s definitely not optimal, at the moment communities don’t have funded options.”

Agostino said a tent could be safer than sharing an overcrowded house.

“It seems to have been forgotten or missed that the large majority of cases in China spread within families and within households,” he said.

Yarrabah, about 50km from Cairns, has about 3,500 people but only 350 houses. Around 580 people are over the age of 50, and 80% of them have some form of chronic disease. There are 82 people over the ago of 70.

“So while we are considered remote, we are only 50km from Cairns, a large population centre with a lot of tourists, as well as local people who’ve traveled overseas and returned.”

There are currently two Covid-19 cases being managed in Cairns.

Agostino is medical advisor to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (Naccho), which has been pushing for governments to make isolation space available and pitch in to help build temporary accommodation.

At Yarrabah, he said, about 70% of the health workforce lives in overcrowded houses, and keeping them healthy in coming months is vital.

Dr Jason King is senior medical officer at the Yarrabah clinic, Gurriny Yealamucka.

In 2018, King said an outbreak of mumps raced through the community and within weeks was estimated to have infected over 150 people. Half of those surveyed afterwards had been sharing a bedroom with two or more people.

“The advice we were giving people then is precisely what we’re giving people now: socially isolate to help prevent the spread,” Dr King said.

“But when you’re talking to someone who lives in a house with ten other people, they’ve got three bedrooms, one bathroom where maybe the plumbing and the tapware is not particularly functioning, their ability to self-isolate is incredibly impacted.

King echoed concerns raised by Northern Territory Aboriginal health groups last week, about long delays in testing for Covid-19.

“You have this incredibly fertile breeding ground for the rapid spread of infectious diseases in a community like this. And even when people want to be able to follow the advice to self-isolate, they just don’t physically have the ability to do that.

“It’s heartbreaking because you don’t want to be the one that brings it home to your family, and that’s the thing we’re faced with.”

Crowding in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities occurs at around three times the rate of the non-Indigenous population, with over 115,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households living in overcrowded homes nationwide.

3.The coronavirus could decimate Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

The coronavirus could decimate Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with public health experts warning there hasn’t been a health risk this severe since the early days of colonisation.

Amber Shultz from Crikey examines why indigenous Australians are especially at risk.

COVID-19 may already be spreading

Until last week, international travellers still wandered across popular tourist spots, with free national park entry advertised in a bid to attract more tourists to the Northern Territory.

Non-essential travel permits for remote communities have been revoked with the NT government announcing its bordered will shut this week, with any arrivals to be quarantined for 14 days.

Slow-moving decisions could have a disastrous effect, Juanita Sherwood, associate dean of Indigenous strategy and services at Sydney University’s faculty of medicine and health, told Crikey.  “The impact of this will be devastating to our community,” she said.

Sherwood pointed to North American reports which liken the effect of smallpox on the native population to what’s expected from coronavirus. “This is going to be the same thing.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already warned Australians about the dangers of travelling to remote areas of the country. Aboriginal health organisations have also called for the federal government to allow police patrols to protect isolation zones.

Peter O’Mara, chair of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioner (RACGP) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, said the last time anything had the potential to have such an impact on Indigenous communities was when the British first arrived. “In all my years as a medical professional, I’ve never seen anything with the same broader national significance,” he said.

The potential impact of coronavirus comes down to a system which fails in almost every aspect: limited immunity and access to healthcare, and too many forced into overcrowded housing and prisons.

It’s all about immunity

Indigenous peoples are three times more likely to have type-two diabetes than non-Indigenous Australians. They also have a higher risk of respiratory disease. These health issues make a severe case of coronavirus all the more likely, Sherwood said.

“Our people are basically sicker than most, and chronic disease issues make our people more vulnerable,” she said.

Generational traumas from the impact of colonisation, smoking rates and lack of access to fresh fruit and vegetables in remote communities are to blame, she said.

“Nutrition is key in the ability to fight infection, but when communities are paying $10 for lettuce that’s withered and dead, there’s not a lot of positive health nutrients. People have been neglected.”

Healthcare is inadequate 

Limited access to healthcare in remote communities is an ongoing issue. In 2016, there were 37 areas with no access to Indigenous-specific primary health care services and poor access to general GPs.

COVID-19 tests are limited in remote regions, O’Mara said. Even if test kits make it to these areas, “testing is only available over a prolonged period, it takes a while for test kits to get back to the lab”. Remote communities are currently experiencing delays of a week or more on COVID-19 testing.

Even for those who live in major cities, “accessing appropriate care, care where they feel safe, is always an issue,” O’Mara said.

“Access to health professionals will be an issue now and in the future.”

Houses are packed to the rafters

The homelessness rate of Indigenous Australians is 10 times that of non-Indigenous Australians. One in 28 Indigenous people do not have stable and secure housing, and 70% of those experiencing homelessness live in severely crowded dwellings (which are classified as needing four extra bedrooms).

“Many people live in overcrowded housing. Once it hits saturation in the general community, more people are at risk of catching it, then having serious health complications,” O’Mara said.

Along with increasing the rate of transmission, overcrowding is a risk factor for respiratory infections, which can be caused by coronavirus.

“Outcomes for us are likely to be far different than people in other populations,” he said.

Overrepresented and overcrowded in prisons

Disease rates skyrocket for those in prison too, said Thalia Anthony, a law professor at the University of Technology Sydney.

“Notable diseases in prisons are diabetes and heart-related illnesses, which are especially chronic in the Aboriginal population,” she said.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up just 2% of the Australian adult population, but 27% of the national adult prison population.

Transmission rates are made worse by overcrowding too, Anthony said. “Prisons across Australia are on average over 100% capacity, with some at 130%… There are several people in cells. There are simply not the facilities to make them safe or secure for social distancing.”

Given one-third of those in prison are unsentenced and may be released following the remand period, there are potentially thousands of Indigenous Australians who could return to their communities. Fortunately, Anthony said NT indigenous communities had made the decision to stop remanding people.

Anthony said the government has two choices: follow the lead of Iran and release low-risk offenders, or repeat the mistakes from the leper colonies of the late 1800s.

“All those populations died. There needs to be a strong warning that prisons are the most dangerous place to send people.”

Just like with prison populations, Indigenous Australians are likely to be disproportionately represented in coronavirus fatality statistics. More action is needed to protect vulnerable communities.

4.Donna Ah Chee COVID19 CAAMA Radio

LINK HERE

5.Dr Norman Swan Link to Podcasts

Coronacast is a podcast that helps to answer your questions about coronavirus or COVID19. We break down the latest news and research to help you understand how the world is living through an epidemic.

Listen for free on ABC listen appApple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

 

6.Dr Mark Wenitong Cape York COVID19 update

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #CoronaVirus News Alert  No 17 #KeepOurMobSafe @GregHuntMP @KenWyattMP investing $6.9 million through NACCHO, its sector support organisations to coordinate Australia’s COVID-19 response efforts, including to ensure cultural safety across all GP respiratory clinics

Government backs remote communities with COVID-19 support

1.What is COVID-19?

2.What are the symtoms?

3.We all need to work together to keep our communities safe and stop the spread of the virus

4.Protecting our communities and Elders

5.Stay Connected

6.National COVID19 Directory listing

Government backs remote communities with COVID-19 support

 ” The Government is investing $6.9 million through the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, its sector support organisations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services to coordinate Australia’s COVID-19 response efforts, including to ensure cultural safety across all GP respiratory clinics “

The Australian Government is offering 45 flexible grants to help 110 remote communities across Australia protect themselves against COVID-19.

The grants are available as part of the Government’s $57.8 million Remote Community Preparedness and Retrieval package.

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said the Government was focused on ensuring remote Indigenous communities were prepared for an outbreak of COVID-19.

“We know that isolation and remoteness may help delay an outbreak of COVID-19 in remote Indigenous communities,” Minister Hunt said.

“Nonetheless, the Government is committed to playing its role in protecting communities and ensuring appropriate steps are taken to delay or prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 in these areas.”

“We are empowering local communities to take the steps they think are necessary to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19.”

To help stop the spread of the virus, governments are restricting the movement of people in and out of remote areas.

The decision to restrict access to remote communities follows advice from Indigenous leaders, decisions by a number of Indigenous communities and the Western Australian and Northern Territory Governments to implement similar measures.

Travelling to other towns and cities could increase the chance of community members getting sick. It could spread the virus between communities.

Community members are encouraged to return to their own community as soon as possible. Anyone returning to community will need to self-isolate for 14 days, outside of their community, before they can return.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, said the flexible grants funding will ensure culturally safe measures can be developed and implemented.

“It’s important that remote communities will have the opportunity to develop local, flexible solutions in planning their response to COVID-19,” Minister Wyatt said.

“By implementing local solutions, we can make it easier to ensure people in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities can access the support they need.”

“The Government’s number one priority is to keep all Australians safe, and this of course includes our Indigenous communities, especially those in regional and remote areas, where many already live with major chronic diseases.”

The grants package is part of the Government’s broader $2.4 billion health package to fight COVID-19, which includes initiatives to help remote communities limit their exposure, have the capacity to evaluate cases, and respond effectively if an outbreak occurs.

Minister Hunt said the Government’s new GP respiratory clinics are a crucial part of the mix of health care services the Government is putting in place to respond to COVID-19, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The respiratory clinics will help assess people with mild to moderate fever and respiratory symptoms away from hospitals and other general practices,” he said.

“The clinics won’t cost people anything to use them – and we will ensure they are culturally appropriate.”

Some GP respiratory clinics will be operated by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, supplemented by mobile and deployable options to respond to needs in remote communities.

This information has been prepared by the Australian Government Department of Health in response to the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).

It aims to provide key information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households, communities and stakeholders as information changes, or new resources become available.

You can share this information with your friends, family and community networks. 

1.What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a sickness that can spread from person to person. It can be dangerous, especially for our Elders, people who are already unwell or people with a chronic health condition.

The sickness spreads from person to person when people cough or sneeze. Germs can stay on things people touch. Germs can spread fast.

When a person who has the virus coughs or sneezes, tiny drops of the virus can spread. It can get into the eyes, nose or mouth of people around them, making them sick. Help stop the spread of the virus by keeping your hands away from your face.

It can also spread to things people who have the virus touch. Like a table, door handle or mobile phone. When other people touch those things, they can catch the virus.

2.What are the symtoms?

For some people, the virus will feel a lot like having a cold or flu. People who have the virus may have a high fever, a cough, a sore throat, and feel tired.

Some people will get better without treatment. For other people the virus can be very dangerous. Especially for Elders and people in our community who have health problems, like bad heart, lungs, kidneys or diabetes.

For some people the virus can get worse and become a sickness called pneumonia. It causes damage to the lungs and makes it hard to breathe. This can also stop people’s organs working like they should.

3.We all need to work together to keep our communities safe and stop the spread of the virus.

  • Staying healthy and strong with good hygiene
  • Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds after you cough or sneeze, go to the toilet, and before you make any food.
  • Cough or sneeze into your arm or elbow, not your hands.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Put your tissues in the bin after you use them and wash your hands after.
  • Clean surfaces often, such as doors, kitchen and bathroom
  • Don’t hug or shake hands with people.
  • If you are sick with a fever, cough or sore throat and feel tired or are having trouble breathing, keep way from people and family in the community and seek medical help.

New black fella hug features Redfern ACCHO CEO La Verne Bellear

4.Protecting our communities and Elders

Don’t travel to places in your community, or other communities, unless you have to.

Stay at home and away from other people as much as you can. If you are around people, try to stay two meters away from them. That’s two big steps.

5.Staying connected

It’s important we stay connected with family, friends and community.

Call people for a yarn on the phone.

Talk to the community and check if they are OK.

Talk about the virus and how to stop the spread.

Connect to family and friends on social media.

Visit health.gov.au for the latest national medical advice.

Call your local Aboriginal Medical Service, or someone you trust in the community if you feel unwell.

Call the 24-hour National COVID-19 Hotline on 1800 020 080.

Visit niaa.gov.au for information about community closures.

Information about all support available from the Australia Government in response to COVID-19 is available at australia.gov.au.

Directory listing of all National , State and Territory Department of Health , Help Lines and NACCHO Affiliate Facebook pages

1.National

Health Department link here

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor, don’t visit, or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

NACCHO Facebook link here

NACCHO Website

NACCHO Communique Corona Virus Alerts

2.NEW SOUTH WALES

Health Department

NSW: 1300 066 055

AHMRC link here

3.VICTORIA

Health Department

VIC: 1300 651 160

VACCHO link here

4.QUEENSLAND

Health Department

QLD: 13 432 584

QAIHC link here

5.WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Health Department

WA: 08 9222 8588

AHCWA link here

6.SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Health Department

SA: 1300 232 272

AHCSA link here

7.TASMANIA

Tasmania Health Department

TAS: 1800 671 738

TAC link here

8.ACT

ACT Health link here

ACT: 02 6205 2155

Winnunga ACCHO link here

9.NORTHERN TERRITORY

NT Health link here

NT: 08 8922 8044

AMSANT link here

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #CoronaVirus News Alert 25 March No 16 : Covers @ScottMorrisonMP press release , COVID-19 infection control training, @AMA President #Telehealth , @HealthInfoNet , @NATSILS , @abcspeakingout  CEO Pat Turner and Dr @NormanSwan Plus Dawn Casey

Prime Minister’s COVID19 decisions press release.

1.COVID-19 infection control training for health care workers.

2. AMA President says expanded access to telehealth is vital to contain Covid-19 and to protect the health of frontline doctors and their patients especially Indigenous and aged at least 50 years old.

3.Contribute to Healthinfonet COVID 19 resources page.

4.NATSILS calls on the Prime Minister for early release from prison and other urgent measures to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from COVID-19 in the justice system.

5.Speaking Out : Hear our CEO Pat Turner and DR Norman Swan discuss COVID19 and our communities.

6. Our Deputy CEO Dawn Casey 20 minute COVID19 Interview Daniel James.

See NACCHO Corona Virus Home Page

Read all 13 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Coronas Virus Alerts HERE

Above image thanks to the team at AHCWA

Prime Minister’s COVID19 decisions press release

Download / Read 5 Pages

Prime Ministers COVID19 Press Release 25 March

1.COVID-19 infection control training for health care workers

This 30-minute online training module is for health care workers in all settings.

It covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19

Department of Health training webpage

This training is for care workers across all health care settings, including:

  • hospitals
  • primary care
  • aged care (both in residential aged care facilities or with visiting carers at home, including cleaners and cooks)
  • disability (both in residential/shared care facilities or part-time carers in people’s homes, including cleaners and cooks)
  • allied health
  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services
  • pharmacies
  • dental practices, including dentists, nurses, cleaners and receptionists

This training module covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19 including:

  • COVID-19 – what is it?
  • Signs and symptoms
  • Keeping safe – protecting yourself and others
  • Myth busting

Users must register, but registration is open to anyone.

Training is hosted on an external site, provided by our trusted COVID-19 training partner, Aspen Medical.

Register now

2.AMA President says expanded access to telehealth is vital to contain Covid-19 and to protect the health of frontline doctors and their patients especially Indigenous and aged at least 50 years old

Update 25 March

 ” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has agreed to expand access to Medicare-funded telehealth, including for mental health, after practitioners complained that restrictions were putting them and their patients at risk.

Mr Hunt said the government was working on a plan to enable all patients to be able to access Medicare-funded online or telephone consultations “for all patients, with or without COVID-19, to see any general practitioner, medical specialist, mental health or allied health professional during the COVID-19 health emergency.”

Read HERE

Telehealth is a key weapon in the war on Covid-19. Telehealth is essential to reducing the community spread of COVID-19 and protecting doctors, staff, and patients from this virus. It is all about making the community safer.

Dr Bartone said that the AMA is working very closely with Health Minister Greg Hunt to deliver better telehealth access to all Australians as a matter of urgency in this crisis.

Example of how most of our ACCHO’s are using Telehealth in this crisis

“The Government is committed to further changes to Medicare to support a comprehensive telehealth model of care, and this includes finalising the detail of further telehealth operations via phone and video by the end of this week,” Dr Bartone said.

“This commitment will see the Government co-design the best practice expansion of telehealth items for all patients, with or without Covid-19, to see any GP or other medical specialist during the Covid-19 health emergency.

“The Government is committed to supporting health professionals to meet the public demand for health care as the spread of Covid-19 continues, especially with telehealth initiatives.

 “It will assure that GPs can more efficiently use their time in helping their patients and their communities. It will reduce demand on valuable PPE.”

Dr Bartone said the AMA is continuing to work closely with the Government in all aspects of responding to COVID-19.

“We are working around the clock to address the concerns of all doctors, all our members, and the general public,” Dr Bartone said.

“It is our priority to ensure that all medical practitioners are properly supported at the front line to give the best possible care to patients in our public hospitals and in the private sector.”

3. Contribute to Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet COVID-19 resources webpage.

HealthInfoNet has started to aggregate COVID19 resources and there is some valuable information on their website for the community

We request our affiliates and members to provide any content or graphics that they find will be useful to others to HealthInfoNet.

These resources will then be uploaded on to HealthInfoNet COVID19 website and will be publicly accessible for others who may find them useful.

HealthInfoNet COVID19 resources page HERE:

COVID-19 Updates and Information

Email your contributions to:

Michelle ELWELL

m.elwell@ecu.edu.au.

4.NATSILS calls on the Prime Minister for early release from prison and other urgent measures to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from COVID-19 in the justice system

Update 25 March 2020

The NSW government is preparing for the early release of some of the state’s 13,000 prisoners in response to the coronavirus pandemic, among a raft of emergency changes to the justice system.

Laws rushed through State Parliament on Tuesday allow the state’s Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin to make orders permitting prisoners to be released early on parole. The commissioner will need to be satisfied it is “reasonably necessary” because of the risk the COVID-19 pandemic poses to public health or to the good order and security of prisons. “

Read here

The National peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) have held a meeting today to call for urgent action from the Prime Minister and State and Territory leaders for the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prisons and the justice system from COVID-19.

NATSILS met with Minister Wyatt and representatives from the Attorney General’s Department and discussed the Federal Government’s response to COVID-19.

NATSILS members made the following statement:

“We, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS), are calling for national leadership from the Prime Minister, Attorney General and all levels of State and Territory Government to take immediate action to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison, including early release.

Most of our people in prison have chronic health issues and are living with disability; they are most at risk. With the over-representation of our people in prison, our lives are on the line.

People in prison are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. This is why we are calling for immediate early release, particularly people who are on remand, women who are victims of family violence and sentenced for lesser offences like fines and public order offences, young people and those most at risk of transmitting COVID-19, like elderly and people with health conditions.

At all costs, we must prevent any Aboriginal deaths in custody from COVID-19.

Authorities must be transparent and avoid blanket lockdowns or solitary confinement, especially for young people. Our people must have safe access to their family and visitors, adequate medical care, COVID-19 testing and particularly legal support. More must be done to facilitate this, including access to video facilities. ATSILS are doing all we can to provide our vital services to our people during this time, whilst containing the spread of COVID-19.

Globally, governments are using early release to contain the virus, including Ireland’s proposal to release prisoners with less than 12 months to serve, and elsewhere in the United States and United Kingdom.

We are concerned about the impact of policing, the closure and delay of courts during the COVID-19 pandemic. There must be more focus on alternatives to imprisonment, on diversion, and on providing communities the support that we need to survive this pandemic.

We are also concerned about the civil law impacts for our people, particularly on fines and tenancy, administrative proceedings, and the impact on child protection and law. There are measures such as freezing rental and rate increases that governments can take.

We discussed with Minister Wyatt the impact of COVID-19 in remote communities. Right now, our lives depend on having full access to social safety nets without any strings attached. Bush courts and circuit courts have now stopped, and ATSILS are working on ways to provide services without face to face contact to remote communities.

When courts resume, this will place unprecedented need on our legal services. We require urgent additional resources to adequately respond to this pandemic.

This pandemic will have a huge impact on our communities, our lives, and our services for many months to come. It is vital that the Prime Minister and all levels of Government act now to show leadership for First Nations people.”

5.Speaking Out : Hear our CEO Pat Turner and DR Norman Swan discuss COVID and our Communities.

Hear our CEO Pat Turner

Hear Dr Norman Swan

6. Our Deputy CEO Dawn Casey 20 minute COVID19 Interview Daniel James 

Listen Hear

NACCHO Aboriginal Communities Health and #CoronaVirus News Alert 24 March No 15 :10 practical psychological skills to help you and your loved ones cope with anxiety and worry

” Our mob are susceptible to many different infectious diseases, including coronavirus (COVID-19).

Worrying about diseases is a normal reaction.

But, excessive worrying about infectious diseases can affect both our physical and our mental health.

This page describes practical psychological skills to help you and your loved ones cope with anxiety and worry about infectious diseases.”

From Health Direct Head to Health Corona Virus support 

See NACCHO Corona Virus Home Page

Read all 15 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Coronas Virus Alerts HERE

1. Get informed with the right information

We are ‘hard-wired’ to react to possible threats to ourselves, our families and our communities. These reactions can keep us safe from possible threats. But at times, our reactions may also be excessive and unhelpful, and may cause significant stress and worry.

Relying on news from mainstream media or social media, which may sensationalise or exaggerate issues, can further increase our stress and anxiety.

One way to manage our reactions is to access the ‘right information’, that is, information we can trust. Consider only accessing trusted sources of information (e.g., ABC Radio, Australian Government Department of Health website, World Health Organisation, NACCHO  website, etc).

2. Understand history

Events like infectious diseases often follow a predictable course. In the past 50 years there have been multiple national and international episodes of concern around conditions such as tuberculosis, SARS, Ebola, HIV, hepatitis, measles, to name a few.

Initially, there is often skepticism, followed by attention, followed by panic, followed by reality, followed by a return to normality. Stock markets and supermarket shelves are good indicators of where we are in the course. Reminding yourself of these patterns can help you to understand the course and plan for the future.

3. Get organised

A good antidote to stress and worry is to get active and organised. If you are worried about something, then do something. Make plans and write your list of what you need to buy, organise, or set-up, and get on with doing it. Tick off each item and turn your ‘To Do’ list into a ‘Ta-Da’ list.

Whenever you recognise you are getting stressed, ask yourself, ‘What do I need to do to help manage this situation?’ Remember that family or friends are also likely to be stressed and might need help getting organised. Talk with them about your plans, and if possible, help them to get organised.

4. Balance your thoughts

When we get stressed about our health or risks of infection our thoughts can become dark, brooding, and pessimistic. Thoughts like, “How will I cope if I get sick?”, “I can’t deal with this”, are often triggered by stress, but they don’t help us. Negative and dark brooding thoughts will stop you doing things that can help. Remember, our thoughts are not always true or helpful.

Challenge your negative thoughts by asking yourself what a friend would say in the same situation, or ask yourself what evidence do you have that you ‘won’t cope or can’t cope’? Whenever you recognise a negative thought balance it with a realistic thought.

5. Shut down the noise

Stress is infectious, and often unhelpful. People tend to talk about things they are worried about; this create lots of ‘noise’, which can create even more stress. Give yourself permission to switch off ‘noise’ such as social media, news, or even radio for most of each day. Also give yourself permission to excuse yourself from people who are creating stress.

Keep checking in to reliable news sources once or twice a day, but otherwise, turn down the ‘noise’. Instead, replace it with things that can help you, including doing things you enjoy, listening to music, entertainment, games, or even meditation.

6. Remember who you are

Most people are good, kind, and sensible. They care for others and the environment and want to make the world a better place. These reflect important ‘values’. Stressful times can make it challenging to act in the way that is aligned with our values. But, even when feeling stressed, remember who you are, and what you believe in.

Remember to be gentle, kind, and respectful to yourself and to others; other people are probably as stressed and worried as you are. By reaching out and supporting others you will not only be helping them, but also doing something that will help you to feel good about yourself.

7. Keep healthy routines

We all have routines in our daily lives. For example, we tend to get up at a certain time, brush our teeth in a certain way, get ready for the day’s activities, and follow many other routines until we go to sleep at night. Major events naturally create changes in routines, particularly if we can’t do some of our usual activities.

We know that our emotional health is strongly affected by regular routines; these routines not only help to get us organised, but give us a sense of achievement and accomplishment. Some of our routines involve other people, who also benefit from them, for example, family mealtimes or get-togethers with friends.

Spend some time thinking about the routines that are important to you and those around you, and find clever and safe ways to keep up these routines or create new ones.

8. Stay engaged

Another key strategy for keeping good mental wellbeing is to stay connected and engaged with people and activities that are meaningful. Reflect on what these are for you and schedule time in your routine to keep doing them.

You might have to modify how you stay connected, for example, using Skype or Facetime instead of face-to-face visits. Examples of how to stay engaged include speaking to family and loved ones, using online forums and chat groups, or calling people. Remember that people really appreciate engaging with others, even if this hasn’t been planned.

9. Do the things that you enjoy and that are good for you

When we are stressed we tend to avoid doing things that we normally do, including things which are good for our mental health. We all have activities and hobbies which we enjoy and which give us pleasure. Even if we can’t do those things in exactly the same way due to quarantine or isolation, it is essential that we make time and effort to do things that we find valuable and meaningful and fun.

If possible, try and do these with others; many activities are more fun to do with company. Making a plan to do fun things regularly will give you something to look forward to, which is another key strategy for staying mentally healthy.

10. Keep looking forward

Remember the famous saying, ‘this too shall pass’. It may not feel like it, but things will return to normal. In the meantime, it is important to have confidence that things will improve, that people will recover, and things will get back to normal. In addition to maintaining your long-term goals, also think about things that you will do each day and week, which you can and will enjoy. Again, try and bring others into your plans; they might also benefit from thinking about the future.

This information has been produced in collaboration with the MindSpot Clinic whose assistance is acknowledged and appreciated.

Next steps

You might find online and phone-based mental health resources helpful.

Some suggestions are below.

NACCHO Aboriginal Communities Health and #CoronaVirus News Alert 23 March No 14 : Directory listing of all National , State and Territory Department of Health , Help Lines and NACCHO Affiliate Facebook pages #NSW #VIC #QLD #WA #SA #NT #TAS #ACT

Directory listing of all National , State and Territory Department of Health , Help Lines and NACCHO Affiliate Facebook pages

1.National

Health Department link here

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor, don’t visit, or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

NACCHO Facebook link here

NACCHO Website

NACCHO Communique Corona Virus Alerts

2.NEW SOUTH WALES

Health Department

NSW: 1300 066 055

AHMRC link here

3.VICTORIA

Health Department

VIC: 1300 651 160

VACCHO link here

4.QUEENSLAND

Health Department

QLD: 13 432 584

QAIHC link here

5.WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Health Department

WA: 08 9222 8588

AHCWA link here

6.SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Health Department

SA: 1300 232 272

AHCSA link here

7.TASMANIA

Tasmania Health Department

TAS: 1800 671 738

TAC link here

8.ACT

ACT Health link here

ACT: 02 6205 2155

Winnunga ACCHO link here

9.NORTHERN TERRITORY

NT Health link here

NT: 08 8922 8044

AMSANT link here

Australian EMERGENCY Notice; Contact Numbers by State 

If you feel unwell, have a fever or sore throat. PLEASE do not go to the medical centre/family clinic or the hospital, please contact the communicable disease control branch direct

Please don’t present to your ACCHO or the emergency ward, keep our nurses and doctors safe.

You may be turned away and told to call the number above.

Save your states number above in your phone and call the proper authority.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – check your symptoms and get information

1.National

Australian governments are focused on working together to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to save lives.

Every extra bit of time allows us to better prepare our health system and put measures in place to protect Australian lives.

We will be living with this virus for at least six months, so social distancing measures to slow this virus down must be sustainable for at least that long to protect Australian lives, allow Australia to keep functioning and keep Australians in jobs.

The Prime Minister, state and territory Premiers and Chief Ministers met on 22 March 2020 as the National Cabinet. They agreed to further actions to support social distancing measures already put in place and protect the Australian community from the spread of coronavirus.

Practicing good hygiene and keeping a healthy physical distance between individuals is our most powerful weapon in fighting this virus and saving lives. The failure of some businesses and members of the public to do this puts people’s lives at risk.

We need every Australian to do their bit to save the lives of other Australians

Places of social gathering

National Cabinet agreed to move to more widespread restrictions on social gatherings.

Premiers and Chief Ministers agreed to implement, through state and territory laws, new Stage 1 restrictions on social gatherings, to be reviewed on a monthly basis.

Australians should expect these measures to be in place for at least 6 months.

The following facilities will be restricted from opening from midday local time 23 March 2020:

  • Pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
  • Gyms and indoor sporting venues
  • Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
  • Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
  • Religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).

Isolated remote community hubs are not included in these restrictions.

Other facilities are not impacted, but will be considered under stage 2 restrictions, if necessary.

These measures also apply to outdoor spaces associated with the above venues.

Leaders noted that these enhanced measures build on existing measures to slow the virus and save lives:

  • No non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people outside or more than 100 people inside.
  • All non-essential indoor gatherings of less than 100 people must have no more than one person per 4sqm. All Australians should expect their local businesses to be following this rule.
  • Where possible, keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others
  • Avoid non essential travel
  • Restrictions on entering aged care homes to protect older Australians

Download the Prime Ministers Press Release

Corona Virus Update from PM 23 March

The health and wellbeing of all Australians remains our highest priority as we manage the threat of COVID-19 in remote communities.

From Monday, 23 March 2020, the following arrangements will apply to the Community Development Programme (CDP):

  • Requirements for CDP service providers to deliver services face-to-face will be removed. This will limit job seekers and CDP staff need to travel within or between communities.
  • Work for the Dole and other activities delivered in group settings will be suspended. This will support social distancing measures.
  • CDP Providers will be directed to refresh risk assessments for a range of activities, including work experience placements and a range of other activities. Activities will only be continued on a case-by-case basis, where appropriate and in line with advice from Health
  • Job seekers engaged in online training or other online activities will have the flexibility to continue these activities on a voluntary basis with the support of their CDP service provider.

The National Indigenous Australians Agency has instructed CDP service providers to not apply any job seeker compliance action, such as financial penalties, while the biosecurity arrangements announced by the Prime Minister on 20 March 2020 are in place.

I have also put in place arrangements to lift any existing suspensions and penalties for CDP job seekers.

CDP Providers play an important role in the day to day life of the communities where they operate. Jobseekers will be able to access services on a voluntary basis where it is considered safe to do so.

Health Department link here

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading in Australia, the virus makes people sick. It can be dangerous, especially for our Elders or people who are already unwell.

Governments’ number one priority is to save lives by slowing the spread of coronavirus.

Travelling to other towns and cities could increase the chance of you and your family getting sick.The safest place for you to stay is in your own community.

To help keep people living in remote areas safe, governments will soon restrict the movement of people into these areas. Community members are encouraged to return to their own community as soon as possible.

Once the restrictions are in place, community members will need to self-isolate for 14 days, outside of their community, before they can return.

People already in their own remote community should stay there unless it is essential to leave for medical treatment.  If you leave now, it is likely that you will need to self-isolate for 14 days before you can return home.

Governments are working hard to make sure essential services and supplies will continue to remote areas.

We can all play a part in stopping the spread of the virus and keeping our communities strong.

More information is available on the NIAA website at www.niaa.gov.au.

Information on how to protect yourself, what to do if you are concerned or feeling unwell and other important information is available on health.gov.au.

Added by NACCHO

2.NEW SOUTH WALES

Testing for COVID-19 in NSW is recommended for

  1. Travellers from overseas with onset of respiratory symptoms or fever within 14 days of return
  2. Close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases with respiratory symptoms or fever within 14 days of last contact
  3. Healthcare workers with recent onset of respiratory symptoms AND fever irrespective of travel history. Healthcare workers who have fever OR respiratory symptoms should be assessed for testing on a case by case basis
  4. Patients admitted to hospital with acute respiratory illness or unexplained fever
  5. Patients with acute respiratory illness or fever in high risk settings such as hospitals, aged care facilities, residential care facilities, boarding schools, cruise ships
  6. Patients with acute respiratory illness or fever presenting with reported links to settings where COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred
  7. Patients with unexplained respiratory symptoms or fever in Aboriginal rural and remote communities.

3.VICTORIA

VACCHO link here

4.QUEENSLAND

Support Hotline opens for vulnerable Queenslanders in COVID-19 quarantine

Queenslanders in home quarantine as a result of COVID-19 will be able to access advice, information and support through the Queensland Government’s Community Recovery Hotline.

Minister for Communities Coralee O’Rourke today (21 March) announced the hotline had been activated by the Palaszczuk Government to support people who have been advised to quarantine at home by a medical professional, Queensland Health or through government direction.

“Most Queenslanders have been self-reliant and made their own arrangements for their period of quarantine,” Mrs O’Rourke said.

“However, we know that some people who are in quarantine aren’t able to organise the delivery of essential food and medications they may need.

“These Queenslanders are now able to phone the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349.

“Our staff will be able to work with partner organisations to arrange non-contact delivery of essential food and medication to people in quarantine who have no other means of support.

“The Community Recovery Hotline may also be used by people who chose to self-isolate to ask for social and emotional telephone support.

Mrs O’Rourke said the Community Recovery Hotline was currently intended to help the most vulnerable Queenslanders in quarantine.

“At this time the hotline is only for people in quarantine, and only for those who have no other support mechanisms,” she said.

“Queenslanders who require health advice or information while in quarantine or self-isolation should call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or visit http://www.health.qld.gov.au/coronavirus ).”

Health Department

QLD: 13 432 584

QAIHC link here

5.WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Health Department

6.SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Health Department

7.TASMANIA

Tasmania Health Department

8.ACT

ACT Health link here

9.NORTHERN TERRITORY

NT Health link here

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal #Remote Communities Health and #CoronaVirus News Alert No 13 :  “ Coronavirus will devastate Aboriginal communities if we don’t act now “ says peak bodies , ACCHO’s and combined Aboriginal organisations

In this special Corona Virus edition 13

1.NACCHO suite of measures James Ward and Dr Jason Agostino

2. Donna Ah Chee  Combined Aboriginal Organisations Central Australia

3. In Broome, the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service

4.Australian Indigenous Doctors : Worst of COVID-19 is yet to come

5.Dr Mark Wenitong Cape York update

6.AMSANT Special control measures urgently in NT

See NACCHO Corona Virus Home Page

Read all 13 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Coronas Virus Alerts HERE

The Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health services sector has mobilised and leading an advisory group alongside Governments and is meeting regularly to work on a management plan specific to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

In the coming days and weeks much more will be required to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia have protocols in place to respond to the virus, contain it and eventually recover.

In the meantime, we must do all we can to protect our most vulnerable in our communities including our Elders, who are the keepers of knowledge and stories, and the backbones of our communities.

If we don’t, we should all hang our heads in shame.

James Ward is director of the University of Queensland’s POCHE Centre for Indigenous Health. Jason Agostino is a general practitioner at Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service , a lecturer and research fellow at the Australian National University, is a Medical Advisor at NACCHO and a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19.

See part 1 below : This article first appeared on The Conversation

2. Donna Ah Chee  Combined Aboriginal Organisations Central Australia

“All organisations were really clear that we need to make the entire NT and the tristate region a Special Control Area for COVID 19.

This means that we want to apply the same travel restrictions that apply to international visitors nationally to visitors to the Northern Territory from any Australian jurisdiction.

“This is really our only hope of preventing the NT from experiencing the type of exponential spread that is now being seen in Sydney, Melbourne and other Australian cities. More of the same will just give the same outcomes,”

Donna Ah Chee CEO Congress Alice Springs is one of the spokespersons for the Combined Aboriginal organisations (CAO) pictured above . See in Full Part 2

3. In Broome, the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service

“We’re saying the tourists should be staying home.

It’s not that we don’t want them; it’s just that in the current environment, it’s not safe for them and it’s not safe for us.

My message to them would be that you should stay home and look after your own health for this year until we can get through this. Maybe travel next year.

The Kimberley already records high rates of patients dealing with diabetes, kidney disease and other conditions that significantly increase vulnerability to coronavirus.

While Broome remains a major tourist destination in its own right, popular destinations like the Dampier Peninsula and Gibb River Road bring significant numbers of visitors to remote communities.

We’ve got a lot of sick people across the Kimberley.

Should we get a positive in any of our communities, it becomes quite dangerous.”

In Broome, the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) chief executive Vicki O’Donnell says tourists pose an unacceptable risk to vulnerable Aboriginal populations across the Kimberley

Read in full HERE 

Part 4 :The President of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association has predicted the worst of COVID-19 is yet to come, with the virus most likely to “peak” over the next three-months.

 

“The modelling says that the peak of this at the moment might come around May or June.

The diseases we have are often complex, particular diabetes which is intensively worse in our mob..that means that there’s a potential there that COVID-19 will hit our mob harder.

The taskforce formed reasonably early on in the crisis and have been working very, very closely together to address the response to government and the response to communities on how to best manage COVID-19 for our populations and our mob.”

The modelling was important as it assisted medical authorities in implementing effective strategies around the predicted spike and decline of new cases of COVID-19.”

President of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA), Dr Kristopher Rallah-Baker, told NITV News he was particularly worried about people living in Indigenous communities who he said were most vulnerable to the virus.

Read in full HERE

Part 1 Continued NACCHO suite of measures James Ward and Dr Jason Agostino

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, we need to ensure the most vulnerable people in our communities aren’t left behind. This includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, especially those living in remote and very remote areas.

COVID-19 particularly impacts the elderly and those with underlying conditions such as cardiovascular (heart) disease and diabetes.

For Aboriginal Australians, COVID-19 has great potential to wreak havoc in our communities.

Around 50% of adult First Nations people live with one of the major chronic diseases such as cardiovascular (heart) disease, kidney disease or cancer. Almost one-quarter have two or more of these chronic conditions.

These risks are compounded by where we live. One in eight First Nations people live in overcrowded housing. This means COVID-19 could spread rapidly. And overcrowding poses real challenges for isolating suspected cases.

This overcrowding is worse in remote settings, which face significant challenges in containing and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic because:

  • health services are already at capacity
  • the workforce is already reliant on fly-in-fly-out staff, including many from New Zealand which has imposed quarantine restrictions
  • there is little access to testing for COVID-19, with long delays for results
  • little information is available, especially for those who speak English as a second, third or fourth language.

How can we mitigate the risk?

Our communities aren’t sitting idle. They have put in place mitigation strategies and are awaiting further instructions, assistance and financial stimulus to help them through this pandemic.

Some regional groups – such as the Northern Land Council, the Anangu Pitjantjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY Lands in South Australia) and the Torres Strait Islands and Papua New Guinea border cross regions – have stopped issuing new permits for visitors and cancelled all non-urgent travel and visits by government and non-government agencies.

The Northern Territory government is also considering a full lockdown, Territory wide.

But these measures are only the start of what is required.

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), the peak body representing more than 140 Aboriginal community-controlled health services, has called for urgent information about:

  • evacuation procedures for people with COVID-19 and suspected cases
  • how to ramp up the workforce and health services in the case of an outbreak
  • how to get appropriate, clear and concise messaging out to communities.

The peak body has also called for a suite of measures to help communities prepare for the pandemic, including:

  • regional COVID-19 testing services to be urgently implemented
  • support for existing Aboriginal health services to modify their structures and create respiratory clinics away from normal health services
  • urgent supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE, which includes gowns, masks and goggles) to be made available
  • urgent identification and sourcing of appropriate housing for suspected and confirmed cases
  • existing medication supplies not to be interrupted but rather prioritised across all settings
  • for access to food and other essential items – such as sanitation supplies, cleaning products and soaps – not to be compromised as the pandemic progresses.

We can’t wait long for action

The warnings from around the world are clear: the earlier these requirements are met, the better the outcomes will be.

We have a moral responsibility to do better than we did in the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. This pandemic ended up with 3.2 times more Aboriginal people admitted to hospital than non-Aboriginal people, four times as many admissions to intensive care units and 4.5 times the number of deaths.

Part 2 The NT must become a Special Control Area for COVID 19 or else there will be a lot of preventable deaths

 

The Combined Aboriginal Organisations of Alice Springs held a special meeting to discuss the threat of COVID 19 to Aboriginal communities across Central Australia.

“All organisations were really clear that we need to make the entire NT and the tristate region a Special Control Area for COVID 19. This means that we want to apply the same travel restrictions that apply to international visitors nationally to visitors to the Northern Territory from any Australian jurisdiction.”

“This is really our only hope of preventing the NT from experiencing the type of exponential spread that is now being seen in Sydney, Melbourne and other Australian cities. More of the same will just give the same outcomes,” said Donna Ah Chee one of the spokespersons for the Combined Aboriginal organisations (CAO).

“If we don’t protect the regional centres in the NT then we are not protecting remote communities. Aboriginal people move in and out of our regional centres all the time for life saving health care, to get back on to Centrelink payments and to buy food at affordable prices.

This will not just stop overnight. We have to make sure that the regional centres in the NT are also protected in order to protect our remote communities,” said Peter Renehan, another spokesperson for the CAO.

“In addition to this, there are many vulnerable people living in town camps and other areas in the regional centres. They also deserve to be better protected,” he continued.

“We have to stop pretending that the health system will cope no matter how well prepared we try to make it. We don’t have the workforce or the infrastructure in intensive care to cope with the surge that will come if we let this pandemic unleash its full force on the NT. Look at Italy, Holland, Spain and other European countries – they all thought they could cope and are now telling us not to make the mistakes that they made,” continued Donna Ah Chee.

“Apart from the inability of the health system to cope, our communities cannot suddenly overcome the additional susceptibility to this infection due to underlying chronic diseases, overcrowding, lack of food security, inadequate income and many other social determinants that will see this virus become a “super spreader” if allowed in. There is no immediate fix to these issues,” said Peter Renehan.

“We must do everything possible to stop this virus from entering the NT. We don’t accept a flatted curve we want a continuous flat line when it comes to COVID 19 and this is our best chance of achieving this,” concluded Donna Ah Chee

5.Dr Mark Wenitong Cape York update

6.AMSANT Special control measures urgently in NT

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance (AMSANT) today expressed support for a proposal to make the entire NT and the tristate region a Special Control Area for COVID 19. The measure would simply apply the same travel restrictions that are now mandatory for international visitors arriving in Australia, to visitors to the Northern Territory from any Australian jurisdiction.

“New Zealand and Tasmania have led the way in forward-thinking, decisive action to fight this virus. We must follow their lead”, AMSANT CEO, John Paterson said.

“The recent spike in numbers of confirmed cases in other jurisdictions, particularly NSW, Queensland and Victoria, points to an exponential growth of spread. Yet the NT remains without any cases”.

“This offers a narrow window of opportunity to introduce measures now to prevent the spread of the virus into the NT, or at least significantly delay and minimise any spread.

“Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures”, Mr Paterson said.

“Our Aboriginal population comprises the most vulnerable group in Australia and the projections for the likely health impacts of COVID 19 are nothing short of devastating.

The H1N1 virus in 2009 resulted in death rates amongst the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population six times that of the non- Indigenous community and the need for ICU beds around eight times more. The risk factors for COVID 19 are greater and hence the impact is likely to be higher than for H1N1.

“With the whole-of-population death rate for COVID 19 estimated to be between 1 – 4 per cent, this could translate to a death rate of between 6 – 24 per cent or more for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Unchecked spread of the virus would also quickly overwhelm the health system, which is underprepared and under-resourced to cope with any surge in demand.

“Adopting jurisdiction-wide travel restrictions is also necessary for protecting remote communities due to the significant movement that occurs between urban, regional and remote Aboriginal communities, particularly to access health care, government services and affordable food.

“We need to minimise the potential for contact at urban and regional centres to spread the virus back to remote communities.

“This once-only opportunity we have to introduce a measure that can turn back the tide on this virus must not be missed”, Mr Paterson concluded.

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal #Remote Communities Health and #CoronaVirus News Alert No12 : What key measures and plans have @MiwatjHealth ACCHO undertaken to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 in East Arnhem, Yolŋu, Anindilywaka & Nunggubuyu country.

 ” The Australian and Northern Territory Governments have introduced a range of measures aimed at reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Miwatj is fully supportive of their approaches and have implemented additional measures to further protect the communities we live in and serve.

In the spirit of transparency Miwatj wishes to summarise some of the key measures we have undertaken to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into our communities, and the plans that we have in place to support our communities in the weeks ahead.

Currently all our clinics are operating as normal and providing our normal range of services. Clients might notice some pre-checks being conducted prior to entering their clinic.

These measure are simply there to direct people to the appropriate area so they can be seen to.” 

See Miwatj ACCHO Website 

Download plan Here 

MIW COVID-19 Public Statement 200318

See NACCHO Corona Virus Home Page

Read all 11 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Coronas Virus Alerts HERE

What has Miwatj done in response to COVID-19

  • Miwatj has established a COVID-19 Response Group that is responsible for developing, coordinating and monitoring our response plan. This group is led by our Director of Clinical Services and is meeting regularly.
  • Limited all non-essential staff travel, and introduced strict self-isolation measures on staff travelling to our East Arnhem communities.
  • In conjunction with the NTG; local communities and stakeholders; and other services providers, Miwatj has assisted in the development of Local Pandemic Action Plans for each of the communities in East Arnhem.
  • Miwatj has developed our own Health Centre Activity and Staffing Contingency
  • Undertaken wide-spread community education on hygiene prevention measures, such as handwashing, in our
  • Miwatj has also, in conjunction with ARDS, developed community messaging (in language) about COVID-19 and how increases hygiene practices can minimise the contraction and spread of the infection.

Travel Restrictions

As a provider of health services to very remote communities, Miwatj understand the importance of travel from not only a staffing and delivery of service point of view, but also from the community’s perspective of it being a way of staying connected with family and friends.

However at the same time we know there is serious concern within our communities about COVID-19 and the potential for it to be introduced through people entering the community from outside of East Arnhem.

Therefore Miwatj has introduced restriction on non-essential staff travel and strict self-isolation measures on staff travelling before travelling into East Arnhem communities.

Staff who are returning from overseas have to self-isolate for 14 days in Nhulunbuy (if that is where they live) or in Darwin (if they normal live in our Zone 2 communities of Milingimbi, Galiwin’ku, Ramingining or Gapuwiyak) before recommencing duties or returning to their community.

Staff who are returning from interstate have to self-isolate for 7 days in Nhulunbuy (if that is where they live) or in Darwin (if they normal live in our Zone 2 communities of Milingimbi, Galiwin’ku, Ramingining or Gapuwiyak) before recommencing duties or returning to their community.

Where possible, these staff may work via computer or phone.

Coordinating

Miwatj is committed to working closely with the NTG and key community stakeholders to continually monitor the situation and adjust its existing or introduce new measures to further protect our vulnerable communities.

We have participated in each of the Local Emergency Committee meeting to develop Local Pandemic Action Plans for each of the communities in East Arnhem. These Plans outline the steps that are to be taken in the community once they are activated and who is responsible for certain activities.

In addition to these Local Pandemic Action Plan, Miwatj has developed its own Health Centre Activity and Staffing Contingency Plan. This Plan outlines our response to the pandemic and ensuring the needs of our communities are met while addressing possible reduced staffing levels due to illness and the impact this may have on services.

These plans may impact on how and where we see people, especially those presenting with “flu like” symptoms.

We are reminding people that, where possible, call ahead before attending a medical clinic if you do have “flu like” symptoms.

Community Education

Miwatj, in conjunction with ARDS, has developed community messaging (in language) about COVID-19 and how increases hygiene practices can minimise the contraction and spread of the infection.

These messages have been extensively broadcast on Yolngu Radio and been reinforced with community posters.

Listen HEAR 

Miwatj has also been undertaking wide-spread community education on hygiene prevention measures, such as hand hygiene, personal hygiene, home hygiene and the risks of sharing of cigarettes and drinks with others.

We have done this through a variety of measures, including direct visits to homes, schools, churches, ALPA stores and sport and recreation clubs.

Other resources

We are continuing to monitor the situation closely and are strictly applying the directives as advised by the Australian and Northern Territory Governments.

There is many guideline and directive changes related to COVID-19 and the changes are being issued rapidly and often without warning, therefore we a recommending that for the most up-to-date information on COVID- 19 people should visit both the Department of Health and the SecureNT websites.