Why self-determination is vital for Indigenous communities to beat coronavirus

COVID-19 Indigenous health Indigenous knowledge Prevention-based approaches Self-determination Australia

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people know very well the challenges of dealing with infectious diseases introduced from overseas to which the people have no immunity.

Historically, epidemics have brought a double threat: first to Indigenous health, then to Indigenous self-determination.

Compared to the past, this time Indigenous people have been more able to take measures to protect their communities from disease. Nevertheless, history shows community-controlled responses must remain a priority. To beat COVID-19, Indigenous self-determination is vital.

Facing the threat of COVID-19, Indigenous communities rose to the challenge early, decisively and of their own initiative. Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands Traditional Owners restricted access to their region in early March (when the prime minister still planned to attend football matches).

Communities have produced their own educational material in multiple formats in their own languages. (These are arguably sometimes more informative and direct than government communications). The Northern Land Council produced YouTube videos in 17 languages. Language centres released COVID-19 information in Kunwinjku, Anindilyakwa and more, and Aboriginal Medical Services have released other resources.

Read more at The Conversation.

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