• Indigenous people from remote communities are being told the safest place for them to be is back on country. (Aneeta Bhole)Source: Aneeta Bhole
The federal government says waiting times for testing results will be cut down to around 45 minutes.
Shahni Wellington

16 Apr 2020 - 11:51 AM  UPDATED 16 Apr 2020 - 12:07 PM

Under a new program, 83 testing sites will be set up across Indigenous communities to detect COVID-19 more rapidly.

As part of the $2.4 billion dollar COVID-19 National Health Plan, the federal government will spend $3.3 million dollars to establish a coronavirus 'Remote Point of Care Testing Program.'

The program will supposedly fast-track the results process to around 45 minutes.

For some remote patients, current waiting times can extend as long as ten days.

The list of remote and rural communities has not yet been decided and will be developed over the coming weeks.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt said the government in working with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Advisory Group to select the communities 'most at risk, and most in need.'

"All of us in the Morrison cabinet are working closely together to make sure that if anything happens anywhere, and particularly with our people, we will have the right resources and the right people in place,”

"Certainly the Kimberley would have to be a considered as one of our priority areas... And then we would take that on advisement from our advisory body and national, plus state and territory, Ministers for health," Minister Wyatt told NITV News.

The funding will go towards the purchase of machines, as well as the logistics, transport, training, software support, quality assurance, data reporting and communications across the clinics.

The Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said that the program would allow local health services to respond quickly and decisively if COVID-19 was identified in their communities.

“It’s vital we do all we can to protect our rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This world first testing response means we can continue to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to fighting this virus,” Minister Hunt said in a statement.

The program, which is an initiative of the Kirby Institute, in partnership with the Flinders University International Centre for Point of Care Testing, is expected to finalise roll out by mid-May.