Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities may stay locked down

13 October 2021

Professor James Ward from UQ's Poche Centre for Indigenous Health spoke with the Herald Sun about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities being at risk when Queensland opens up, due to the slow uptake of vaccination rates. 

Professor Ward said factors including supply issues early in the rollout, ongoing chronic understaffing of Aboriginal health services and generational mistrust of the healthcare system were behind the slow take up.

“What we need to do at the same time as opening up is do everything we can to protect those communities from outbreaks and potential deaths,” Professor Ward said.

“And that might involve reinstating emergency legislation to close communities off to visitors, it may involve sending out rapid response outbreak teams.

“One thing we don’t want is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be bearing the brunt of hospitalisations, ICU admissions and potential death.

“There is a level of mistrust of the vaccine rollout… negative experiences with health care systems over a very long period of time, and it’s not only Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, but other culturally and linguistically diverse communities." 

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