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February 14, 2022

Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Steve Edgington, says the Gunner Labor Government has failed Indigenous Territorians and needs a structured and targeted plan to ensure as many vulnerable people as possible are vaccinated in remote communities.

“Labor has had more than 12 months to roll out the vaccine to protect Territorians from this virus. Yet, we still have communities with less than 50% of the population yet to receive their second dose.

“That is shameful.

“We are calling on the Gunner Government to implement a fortnight of lock ins for communities inside the current biosecurity boundaries, to stop movement between communities within these zones.

“This will stop widespread movement within the zones, and possible spread of the virus to communities, outstations and homelands with low vaccination rates.

“It will also give health authorities the chance to travel to individual communities and engage in a structured and targeted program to encourage as many people as possible to get the jab. This needs to be adequately resourced with education and translation services.

“The biosecurity zones have now been in place since the 2nd of February. What has Labor done in that time? The Gunner Government has wasted an opportunity to send in health teams to educate and vaccinate vulnerable Territorians while they are confined to the biosecurity boundaries.

“The Government professes to wanting to keep our most vulnerable Territorians safe. So, why does Jabiru clinic have a sign hanging on the door saying it has completely run out of vaccines and isn’t sure when it will get another delivery? Why was the Canteen Creek and Epenarra clinics closed over December and January and why is the Ali Curung clinic still closed and only able to respond to emergencies?

“How can the Gunner Government expect to encourage our most vulnerable to get vaccinated when local clinics have no stock?

“In the Barkly, Ali Curung only has 46% of residents 16 and over fully vaccinated. In Canteen Creek it’s 47%. Just 53% of people in Epenarra are double jabbed, and only 55% in Alpurrurulam.

“The reintroduction of biosecurity zones was a blunt admission the Federal Government had lost faith in the Gunner Government’s ability to manage COVID in the bush.

“These extreme measures wouldn’t be needed if Labor hadn’t sensationally bungled the remote vaccine rollout which has left Indigenous Territorians less protected against COVID.

“It seems that the Chief Minister is intent on keeping Territorians in the dark by refusing to disclose all available information about the number of active cases, the number of new cases, and where those people are actually located. “When we have overworked and unsupported frontline workers telling locals that the positive cases they are dealing with are not being reflected in the official figures for many remote communities, we should all be alarmed, suspicious and concerned about what the real situation looks like,” said Mr Edgington.

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