Although there has been consideration on a State and National level of the increasing financial and resource burden of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) in Western Australia, there have been elements that have greatly impacted the Aboriginal Health sector that have not been recognised or acknowledged.
- The multi levels of travel restrictions and rules regarding entry in to the communities has had a significant impact on many of the ACCHS. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions “Fly-in Fly out” (FIFO) staff have required accommodation and allowances whilst in quarantine.
- Many staff in the ACCHS fell into the “Vulnerable” category for workers, and were relieved of normal duties or alternative duties allocated to accommodate the COVID-19 recommendations. The planning, reallocation, leave and rostering elements of this one group of staff has had significant expense to the ACCHS.
- The Australian Government announced upgrades and funding to NBN to assist GP’s with Telehealth delivery. The ACCHS had already increased their plans prior to this due to the poor connectivity and unreliable services with ADSL, and had to increase data plans to accommodate NBN satellite requirements. Mobile plans have been upgraded to compensate for the poor quality and unreliable internet issues that the ACCHS experience.
- The ongoing preparedness, response and recovery phases of the pandemic will take an added toll on the financial, physical and emotional aspects of care within the ACCHS in WA. The continued advocacy and lobbying AHCWA does to assist member services, still requires their time and commitment to provide anecdotal evidence, respond to surveys, apply for funding and assistance etc. and is often neglected in the consideration for funding.