The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 (the taskforce) met for the second time on Tuesday, 10 March 2020.
The taskforce provided significant input into the development of the national primary care target action response, with insights on workforce planning, cultural safety, the importance of prompt access to test results and the practicalities around maintaining service continuity when demand increases.
The Taskforce also agreed the preparation of culturally appropriate and consistent advice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services and Communities is a priority, together with the identification of the infrastructure, equipment and overall capacity to provide the swift response required to address COVID-19.
For remote communities, the taskforce discussed the importance of involving all community service organisations, such as Local Councils, Land Councils, schools and not just health services, in the development of local COVID-19 preparedness and response management plans. In addition, the plans will need to include local protocols for respiratory clinics where appropriate and ready evacuation procedures for the very sick. The Taskforce also acknowledged the importance of an appropriate and proportionate urban and regional response given the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in those areas.
Members provided very comprehensive advice on a range of associated issues that also require attention including the provision of the Influenza 2020 vaccination in a timely manner.
Co-chaired by the Department of Health and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), the taskforce includes Public Health Medical Officers and leaders from the Aboriginal Community Controlled Sector, Aboriginal Health Services, state and territory government public health and medical officials, Aboriginal communicable disease experts, the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association and the National Indigenous Australians Agency.
The taskforce will next meet on Thursday, 12 March 2020.