The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has used Close the Gap Day to call for the federal government’s national COVID-19 response to include contingency planning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
First Nations people and communities are particularly vulnerable to the potential impacts of COVID-19 due to remoteness, pre-existing chronic health conditions, already-stretched health services and housing that is often overcrowded or not fit for purpose.
While the federal government has created an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19, which includes representatives from the government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations, the ANMF has stressed that a partnership approach with First Nations people and communities is key to protecting the spread of the disease in remote areas.
To that end, the union is also supporting the call from the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) for First Nations peoples to enact isolation practices in remote areas.
In addition on Close the Gap Day the ANMF is highlighting the need for solutions on multiple fronts due to the historical and ongoing difficulties that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities face in achieving good health and wellbeing.
“The ANMF is calling for an immediate commitment from all levels of government to close gaps in health outcomes, education attainment, to improve standards of housing and services in remote communities and to reduce the disproportionate rates of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Acting ANMF Federal Secretary, Lori-Anne Sharp said. “It should do this using a strengths-based, partnership approach with Aboriginal leaders.”
The theme for this year’s Close the Gap Day is ‘Our Health, Our Choice, Our Voice’.
While the organising body, the Australians for Native Title and Recognition, have cancelled all public events scheduled for today, they have recommended organisations and people organising their own events [to] think about how you can put the spotlight on the health and wellbeing of First Nations people.