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Department partners with Indigenous driven responses to COVID-19 pandemic

Dr Luas Toca, Assistant Secretary Indigenous Health Source: Supplied

“We have seen leadership and we have seen a proactive stance to look after their own community from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations in dealing with COVID-19.”- Dr Lucas de Toca, Assistant Secretary Indigenous Health (Department of Health)

COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the entire world and making changes to the way we live our day-to-day lives.

Dr Lucas de Toca, Assistant Secretary Indigenous Health at the Department of Health says the Department is aware that some groups in society, including Indigenous communities, might be at higher risk of developing severe decease or facing serious consequences from this condition.

“We have seen that with previous outbreaks in 2009 during H1N1 pandemic and also during flu seasons that Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people are at a higher risk of disease,” Dr Toca said in an interview with NITV Radio.

Dr Lucas de Toca added that in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic the leadership and strength in Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander communities has been recognised as their stance enabled a very proactive response that wouldn’t otherwise have existed.

“Any response that we adopt also draws on the strengths that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have in this country.”

Essentially, we are following up on what communities were already requesting.

The Assistant Secretary emphasized that It is crucial to recognise that NACHO and other community organisations have been leading this response.

The government’s intervention has been to partner so that every step that’s taken is not just in consultation, but in actual partnership with community organisations and with the experts which are the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and other Aboriginal health bodies.

“In many ways what we have done is supporting and enabling activities that were already happening.”

Dr de Toca also explained that many remote communities had already established access restrictions before the government activated the national biosecurity determination to establish designated remote areas as restricted access zones.

“Essentially, we are following up on what communities were already requesting.”

You can stay up to date on coronavirus at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

For more information

• Visit health.gov.au for the latest national medical advice.

• Call your local Aboriginal Medical Service, or someone you trust in the community if you feel unwell.

• Call the 24-hour National COVID-19 Helpline on 1800 020 080.

 • Visit niaa.gov.au for information about community closures.

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