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First Nations vaccine rollout reveals usual lack of care and incompetence

Media Release
Lidia Thorpe 31 Aug 2021

The Greens say that the Government's approach to vaccinating First Nations people, disabled people and aged care residents, has been unacceptable and once again led to a tragic death that could have been prevented if adequate planning and support for experts was given when it was asked for.

Communities should not have to be begging for support, Greens spokesperson on Health Senator Rachel Siewert said. 

We are more than a year into this pandemic, the Government cannot say they weren’t warned about how devastating a COVID outbreak would be in First Nations communities. 

Why didn’t Ministers do more to prevent COVID outbreaks in First Nations communities?

Priority groups were meant to be vaccinated first, but the Government’s approach to vaccinating those groups has been haphazard at best, bordering on just plain negligence. 

We cannot be talking about ‘opening up’ or easing restrictions when this Government cannot even ensure the safety of First Nations people, despite very clear warnings.

DjabWurrung, Gunnai and Gunditjmara Senator for the Greens Lidia Thorpe said: 

The Morrison government is putting First Nations peoples lives at risk by failing to listen to us. Overcrowded housing, food insecurity and an under-resourced healthcare sector in regional areas hurt us before the pandemic.

This pandemic has put a spotlight on government neglect, that has existed for decades.

The Maari Ma Aboriginal Health Corporation gave the Morrison government warnings and strategies for managing COVID-19 in western New South Wales 18 months ago. This was ignored, and now Wilcannia has the highest transmission rate in NSW.

Just last month, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation was excluded from a national COVID-19 vaccine task force meeting, despite Aboriginal health services being primarily responsible for delivering vaccines to First Nations people.

How much proof do you need that this top-down approach isn’t working?

Non-Indigenous peoples vaccination rates are double ours in most states and territories. This shows First Nations people that we are not a priority for this government.

The Australian government hasn't looked after First Nations people since colonisation, so this government needs to hand over control of our affairs back to the people.

People on the ground know what's best for their communities.

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