Submission
Description

The COVID-19 virus has exposed the vulnerability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to pandemics. Generations of systemic and ongoing provision of inadequate housing and infrastructure, overcrowding, and social disadvantage, and the high prevalence of comorbidities among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people contribute to higher mortality in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Key Recommendations:

  • The Australian Government commit to working closely with State and Territory Governments to resolve the fault lines of disadvantage endured by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for generations, including health, education and housing. Governments must invest in better and less crowded housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and fund Environmental Health Workers.
  • That the Australian Government extends the current doubled rate of Newstart for the duration of the pandemic and that the rate be significantly increased from the pre-existing level once the pandemic has passed.
  • The Government and associated bodies, including the Therapeutic Goods Administration and Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, continue to liaise directly and regularly with National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) to ensure ongoing timely and consultative responses to medicines supply and access issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • There is a particularly urgent need for a review of the impact COVID-19 has had on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s primary, secondary and tertiary education. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families would not have been able to provide the home schooling required during the COVID-19 lock down for a range of reasons.

Over 50% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have one or more chronic diseases which places them at high risk of serious COVID-19 infection. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these factors make Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people one of the most vulnerable populations to the COVID-19 virus. If COVID-19 gets into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the consequences could be catastrophic.

 

Publication Details