14 April 2020
The NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) will provide emergency relief to isolated Aboriginal communities through an unprecedented state-wide assistance program.
The initiative has also led to a partnership with the NSW Government as we seek ways to help our most vulnerable communities impacted by COVID-19 measures.
NSWALC is committed to purchasing 1000 Basics Boxes from Woolworths, the first of which will be sent to Aboriginal communities this week. Council endorsed the distribution of funds through the Community Benefits Scheme at an extraordinary meeting last week.
As the social distancing restrictions continue to apply, the partnership with the NSW Government will deliver hundreds of pre-packed food and hygiene boxes to the most at risk and in our most vulnerable communities.
NSWALC has lobbied Government officials and will continue to play a key advocacy role for Aboriginal people in New South Wales. We are committed to campaigning for better access to resources, support and supplies. We refuse to allow Aboriginal people to be forgotten through this COVID-19 health pandemic.
We know Aboriginal people are extremely vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19. Recent history supports this. Ten years ago, when swine flu hit our shores, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 11 per cent of all identified cases, 20 per cent of hospitalisations and 13 per cent of deaths, even though we were only two percent of the populationWe have to be prepared for the possibility of similar rates of transmission this time around.
We will continue to make this known and champion the cause of our Network. Isolation and panic buying has amplified the hardship being encountered. Chronic disease, overcrowding and poor housing has compounded the issues faced by our people, especially in remote and isolated communities, leaving them particularly vulnerable. This is not fair and requires urgent attention from all levels of Government.
However, it is equally important that in return, we abide by National Cabinet’s directive to stay home and practice social distancing. We know it isn’t easy. Hopefully initiatives such as this food relief program will make that easier.
Priority will be given to Aboriginal people over 60 with Healthcare Concession Cards, who are living in 65 of our communities most at risk of food security issues arising from COVID-19 measures.
We are focusing on our Elders first and foremost, as they are our custodians of culture and truth. But there are more packages available and we encourage those vulnerable individuals in isolated communities to get in touch and find out if they can register for assistance. The elderly, frail, disabled and disadvantaged from these communities are also encouraged to register their interest.
A hotline is also available for those unable to register – free call on 1800 476777 from 7am on Tuesday, 14 April, 2020