10th March, 2020

COVID-19 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group Communique 10 March 2020

Coronavirus/COVID-19

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.