In Brewarrina, case numbers are low and vaccination rates are high. The tiny town's community spirit and and resolve is keeping them ahead of the Delta variant.
Massilia Aili

10 Sep 2021 - 7:03 PM  UPDATED 10 Sep 2021 - 7:04 PM

At the Thulii Ngemba Café, Trish Frail is cooking up meals for local Elders and delivering the food to the community.  

The café, named after the Ngemba people, represents her culture in every dish they make.

“Everything we cook has to have some sort of native ingredient in it,” Ms Frail said.

She’s been running the business throughout the pandemic and supporting local health workers with free coffee and lunches.

“You just see what the health workers are doing and it's like 'Wow, we really do need to acknowledge them," she said.

"I did a donation drive and I got a fair bit of money from it and that’s what’s made me successful in doing it.”

It's that community spirit that Ms Frail believes is why Brewarrina has been so successful in keeping the virus at bay.  

The town in Western New South Wales has only reported two positive cases, and when they were detected the locals sprang into action, going their own way with contact tracing rather than relying on the health department.

David Kirby, from the Brewarrina Local Aboriginal Land Council, said relying on connections within the community had helped them deal effectively with the virus.

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“A lot of that critical contact tracing information (is) coming directly from community, and using some of our methods in terms of communicating between families that were close contacts and casuals,” he told NITV News.

Brewarrina has two doctors at the Aboriginal Medical Service and another at the Ochre Health clinic. 

Ms Frail said the devastating march of COVID through other regional areas drove the Brewarrina community’s vaccination campaign.

"When that first case had hit Brewarrina, I think seeing our own people, family members in other towns contract COVID and seeing what it can do, really set alarm bells throughout the community.” 

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Mr Kirby reported said the vaccination rates were very healthy. 

“Now as we sit today, first dosage in Brewarrina is up around the 90% mark with the second dose close to 40,” Mr Kirby said. 

It's a feat that’s being praised by local health authorities.

“That is one of the best approaches I’ve ever seen in a rural community," said Scott McLachlan, Chief Executive of Western NSW Local Health District. 

"The leaders of the community have come up with... the best action plans and approaches where everyone is clear on what needs to happen if there’s an active case, if there’s a risk in town, how we coordinate testing...

"The whole of the health system, the community, the council, the police and everyone else (is) coming together with a really strong voice from community in all of that.” 

However as the Delta variant continues to surge through surrounding towns, Brewarrina will have to remain in lockdown, for now. 

Trish Frail is hoping the restrictions lift soon so she can get back to business and get back on her feet. 

“At the moment my children are actually helping me pay for my staff wages because I just do not have the funds anymore to keep it up,” she said.

Until then, she will continue to do her part in supporting her community.

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