Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on corona-virus (COVID-19) and other health updates
Welcome to the latest update on COVID-19 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households, communities and organisations. This month, we are focusing on keeping your spirit strong, planning a COVID Safe summer, health and well-being, and are bringing you a short update on COVID-19 vaccines.
- How to plan your summer this year
- Keep Your Spirit Strong
- Supporting communities through WellMob
- Your health is in Your hands
- An update on COVID-19 vaccines
How to plan your summer this year
We would like to remind everyone to keep up with COVIDSafe behaviours, check local health restrictions and make sure you get tested even if you have mild symptoms of coronavirus.
In this video Dr Dawn Casey from NACCHO and Michelle Craigie from Department of Health are talking about their summer plans and remind us how important it is not to let our guard down.
Stay safe and healthy this summer!
- Check if there are any travel restrictions for the area you want to visit. Requirements can change quickly. You may need to complete an application to travel across some borders. You might need to quarantine on arrival.
- Don’t travel to country if you are coming from a COVID-19 hotspot.
- Don’t travel if you are sick or if you have been in contact with someone who has corona-virus in the last 14 days.
- Wear a mask when on public transport or a plane, or in places where you cannot physically distance from people.
- If you can’t travel, try hosting a virtual get together.
- Download and turn on the COVIDSafe App so you can be contacted if needed.
- There may be limits on the number of people who can gather in homes or at different venues. These numbers are different in the various States and Territories. Stay up to date with the local advice in your area.
- Avoid big gatherings. Gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households, including students returning home, pose higher levels of risk.
- While at the gathering, wash hands and sanitise regularly. Stay two steps away from others. Avoid handshakes, hugs and kisses with people you don’t live with.
- If you feel unwell, don’t visit or gather with others.
Protect yourself and your mob
- Remember that you may not have any symptoms but still have COVID-19. Always stay COVIDSafe so you don’t get your mob sick.
- Check in on Aunties and Uncles, offer to pick up groceries or medicine if they can’t get out.
- Limit hugging to your close circle of family members.
- More advice on how to protect your mob is on the Department of Health website.
Useful points of contact
- Local restrictions and requirements
- Limits on the number of people gathering, and
- Other things like quarantine arrangements and mandatory use of masks.
Keep Your Spirit Strong
For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, mental health is connected with social, emotional, spiritual and cultural wellbeing. It is a unique approach to mental health that sees people, communities, family, kinship and spirituality as one. All those domains of life are important to keep spirit strong.
For many people this year has been hard. A lot has happened which have been out of our control including bushfires, drought, floods, money worries, and COVID-19. Not everyone had a chance to celebrate with their families and their mob. Many have experienced Sorry Business in a different way.
And sometimes it is hard to explain how you feel or know when you need help.
The Department of Health have developed a number of communication resources about the importance of looking after mental health. The materials cover lots of issues. These include looking after each other and checking in. They also include how to know when someone is not feeling well and helping them to share their thoughts and feelings.
The resources also encourage people to connect with the support services that they need. All resources are part of the communications project “Keep Your Spirit Strong” and you can find them online.
Please share this important content with your networks, friends, communities and close ones to help our mob keep their spirit strong.
Supporting communities through WellMob
The WellMob website is Australia’s first online library of mental health and well-being resources made for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and their communities.
Launched mid-2020, the website contains links to more than 200 other websites, videos, podcasts and apps that can help maintain mental health and well-being.
There is a broad range of online resources covering six main topics including mind, body, culture and healing. There is also quick access to crisis support lines for those who need urgent help, plus links to Indigenous counselling services.
The website has a strong cultural look, feel and function. It uses cultural imagery and plain language to make it easy to find well-being resources. This is not surprising as the idea for the website came from frontline Indigenous health and community workers.
It was important that a digital well-being space was created by and for our mob. Indigenous health and community workers from Larrakia (Darwin), Kaurna (Adelaide) and Bundjalung (Lismore) were there at every step of the website’s development. As a result, the WellMob website provides our diverse health workforce a ‘one-stop shop’ of safe and culturally-appropriate online well-being resources.
Check out the WellMob website for resources that could help you and your mob to stay healthy and safe.
The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet partnered with eMHPrac (electronic mental health in practice) to develop the website. It was funded by the Australian Department of Health.
Your Health is in Your Hands
You may have missed your regular health check-up this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Or maybe you were worried it was not safe to do so.
Your regular medical appointments are important and are part of keeping you and your family healthy. The 715 Health Check is one of the appointments you should not be skipping, especially if you have chronic or existing health conditions. The 715 check is a routine check tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
It is free at Aboriginal Medical Services and bulk billing clinics. The check takes about an hour and will help you find out if you are at risk of any illnesses. This way you can take actions to prevent sickness before it happens.
Other health screenings, such as for breast or bowel cancer, are also really important and you should not delay them.
To keep safe while you’re at appointments, please follow the instructions you were given when you book. This may include wearing a mask, sanitising your hands when arriving or entering through a separate area. Stay two big steps away from others whenever you can.
And don’t forget, having medical checks now can prevent you from being sick in the future. If you haven’t already, go and make a booking today. Your health is in your hands.
An update on COVID-19 vaccines
Having safe COVID-19 vaccines can help protect our communities.
Researchers around the world are developing and testing COVID-19 vaccines, but there is no approved vaccine available for Australia just yet.
Before a vaccine is approved in Australia, it must pass the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s strict standards to make sure it is safe for use.
While this important process continues, you can carry on the amazing job you have done looking out for each other and keeping our communities safe.
The Department of Health website has more information about COVID-19 vaccines.