This paper presents an overview of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander COVID‐19 Advisory Group's recommendations to the COVID-19 Roadmap to Recovery: A Report for the nation.
The recommendations discussed here focus on the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities in the recovery from COVID‐19, recognising that self‐determination is a necessary condition for Indigenous health.
- The right to self‐determination and to lead coordination: there needs to be continued financial and logistical support of Indigenous COVID‐19 response mechanisms in all jurisdictions. This recommendation is based on the right of self‐determination for Indigenous people to keep their communities safe, recognition of ongoing local cultural practices and the need for efficiency in pandemic responses.
- An immediate increase in the supply of housing: During COVID‐19, the housing crisis has been exacerbated by people returning from urban centres to ancestral country. Whilst this has led to reconnection with family and country for many people, addressing isolation and growing communities, a lack of basic infrastructure compounds preexisting health concerns.
- COVID‐19 Indigenous data sovereignty: It is recommended that the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander COVID‐19 Advisory Group be maintained until the pandemic threat is eliminated and that principles of Indigenous data sovereignty are used to support data sharing and decision making.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Review: The COVID‐19 pandemic has highlighted vulnerabilities in local workforces that are highly dependent on staff from out of community, interstate and even New Zealand. Long‐term initiatives to build local capacity are needed, given the significant issues which have arisen in relation to available workforce. It is strongly recommend that the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (NACCHO) as a lead agency, instigates a health workforce reform process in partnership with all jurisdictions.
The research clearly and consistently demonstrates that a strengths‐based, community‐led approach is the only effective way of working with Indigenous peoples. Self‐determination and connection to community, culture and the advice of elders are critically important in times of crises. At the time of writing, it remains to be seen how governments across Australia respond to these recommendations, as Indigenous people continue to be resilient and innovative in response to yet another, potentially catastrophic, health crisis.