Updates

Major funding boost for First Nations COVID-19 response

Queensland Government media release

The Queensland Government has made more than $21 million available to support the health and wellbeing of First Nations Queenslanders

Deputy Premier and Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles said the measures aim to combat the spread of COVID-19 amongst First Nations Queenslanders to ensure the coronavirus does not adversely impact their communities or amplify existing health inequalities.

“From the moment the virus appeared in Australia we have been working to prevent outbreaks in Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities where we know it would have a devastating impact.

“This funding has gone toward preparing for possible future outbreaks in First Nations communities, while remaining committed to existing health services.

“We know that First Nations peoples, particular those that are aged 50 and over with one or more chronic health conditions may experience more severe symptoms of COVID-19.

“We have to remain vigilant and be able to respond early to COVID-19.”

Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford commended remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community leaders for the work they have done to protect their communities from the spread of COVID-19.

“In March, the National Cabinet agreed to restrict entry into those communities under the Commonwealth’s Biosecurity Act 2015,” Mr Crawford said.

“I have heard the concerns of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mayors and leaders since the measures came into effect.  We know these decisions have raised challenges for the delivery of healthcare and essential wellbeing services.”

This investment is already delivering for First Nation Queenslanders and will help:

  • Facilitate partnerships between Hospital and Health Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations to support local COVID-19 responses
  • Bolster the frontline health workforce to help people remain connected and continue their healthcare during this time
  • Roll out innovative models of healthcare in the home, from the home and close to home
  • Enable a surge workforce capacity to respond to community outbreaks
  • Provide funding for increased communication activities.

Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Chief Health Officer and Deputy Director-General Haylene Grogan welcomed this investment.

“I have been talking with community leaders and clinicians right across Queensland, we must do all we can to ensure people stay engaged in healthcare, especially in relation to chronic disease management. These measures are about healthcare in the home, from the home and close to home,” Ms Grogan said.

“This investment also provides an opportunity to drive health equity reform through enhancing the uptake of innovation.

“I know the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health sector in Queensland is doing a good job alongside our Hospital and Health Services and we want to see partnerships and innovation strengthened so that quality healthcare is provided to First Nations people in this state.”

Deputy Premier Miles said in addition to this investment, the Queensland Government is also investing to expand the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) existing IUIH Connect Program in South East Queensland.

“IUIH Connect works closely with Queensland Health, Public Health Networks, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health clinics, and community-based social support services to connect patients and families towards holistic supports when and where they need it, across multiple systems and organisations,” Mr Miles said.

“As part of the $28 million fund established by the Queensland Government to support Queensland’s community-based health service groups during the COVID-19 pandemic, IUIH is one of the first organisations to benefit with a $1.4 million grant.”

Minister Crawford said it is critical that we back our community support services during these difficult times as they respond rapidly to the widespread impact of the virus in Queensland.

“Getting the level of communication right during this time is critical to keep communities informed. An SMS platform for COVID-19 First Nations communications will be rolled out to provide tailored information about COVID-19 via text messaging, that will complement a broad communications program,” Minister Crawford said.

“First Nations communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Organisations know what is best for their communities, and we are continuing to listen and be informed by their advice.”