May 1st 2020

Over 200 organisations call on the Federal Government to meet Aboriginal communities COVID-19 demands

Over 200 civil society organisations representing millions of people have called on the Federal Cabinet to listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and respond to the requests of community-controlled organisations on the ground and immediately release critical resourcing needed to keep people safe.

Organisations that have signed on include Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), GetUp, Lush cosmetics, Victorian Trades Hall Council, World Vision Australia, Mornington Island Aboriginal Corporation for Health and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (NATSILS)

The open letter demands include:{: target="_blank"}

  1. Immediate release of emergency funding from the Federal Government to ensure communities and remote health services are well resourced before a potential outbreak 
  2. Isolation and quarantine accommodation. 
  3. Clear in-language information about the virus. 
  4. Immediate supply of food and essential needs. 
  5. Prevent black deaths in custody.
  6. Fully funding community services.

Larissa Baldwin GetUp’s First Nations Justice Campaign Director says “We’re not even through the first stage of Covid-19 and public health experts are warning that a second round of COVID-19 is likely.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people carry a disease burden over 2.3 times the non-Indigenous population, this means that First Nations people are at a much higher risk of dying of Covid-19.

“The Morrison Government must listen to the demands of communities particularly communities across the Northern Territory and the Kimberley and allow immediate access to funding for essential services.

Uncle William Tilmouth Chairperson Children’s Ground “The fear of losing a generation of Elders presents a significant and unique threat to First Nations communities – Elders don't retire, they are not only beloved family but also hold culture, language and entire communities together.”

"Aboriginal people and Elders specifically can not afford social isolation. However, they have no choice but to be confined to overcrowded, poorly serviced and impoverished environments in order to try to survive this virus – both in urban and remote.

“We are seeing our elders succumb to pneumonia due to their enforced isolation. We are seeing families struggling with inadequate food and lack of access to essential services just in order to survive. our lives have become so sedentary and lacking in activity that our basic health is beginning to suffer.

“We are not able to connect with our families and this causes us depression. Isolation has never been a part of Aboriginal life. The historical injustices we have faced that were not of our making have now placed us in the highest risk category in the world in relation to his virus. 

“We are now at further risk of ill health, depression and loneliness and this has become a real concern for those in urban environments who live alone. Many of us miss our grannies and our families, our community and the things that keep us connected as Aboriginal people.”

The full open letter can be found here:{: target="_blank"}

Above media spokes are available for comment.