Evidence in the COVID oversight inquiry yesterday revealed the shocking fact that the NSW Minister for Health and the Chief Health Officer have still not met with the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW despite the substantial threat to First Nations communities from Covid.
The Greens NSW MPs who were on this inquiry, Health Spokesperson Cate Faehrmann and Chair and Aboriginal Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge are today calling for an urgent meeting with this peak body before steps are taken to lift the lockdown in Far West NSW.
Greens MP and Health Spokesperson Cate Faehrmann said: "It's incomprehensible that the two most senior health figures in NSW have failed to meet with the peak body representing Aboriginal Medical Services at a time when Covid poses such a dire threat to First Nations communities.
"This is nothing less than an abrogation of the Government's duty when it comes to prioritising the health of First Nations communities during this pandemic.
"I call upon the Minister to urgently meet with the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council and work closely with them going forward to ensure that Aboriginal community controlled health organisations are leading the Covid response in their communities.
Greens MP and Aboriginal Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said: “First Nations communities need to be at the heart of all covid related planning for responding to outbreaks, testing and vaccination.
“Aboriginal medical organisations have been asking for more than a year to collaborate on planning for their communities, but they have been left out in the cold.
“Failing to work collaboratively with Aboriginal Controlled Organisations means the response to outbreaks in Wilcannia, Enngonia and Walgett have simply not been fit for purpose and local conditions like overcrowded housing have taken too long to be addressed.
“Strategies that make sense in the rest of NSW can’t just be imposed on remote communities. The response needs to at the very least account for historical issues First Nations people have with the medical system, decades of underfunding of rural health, and ensure vaccination and treatment is delivered in a culturally safe manner,” Mr Shoebridge said.