Townsville Bulletin

Fears at borders opening


QUEENSLAND Aboriginal and Islander Health Council chairman Matthew Cooke has expressed disappoint­ment and concern with the government’s lack of consultati­on with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people before announcing the staged reopening of Queensland’s borders

“There is currently a 30 per cent gap in vaccinatio­n rates between Indigenous and non-indigenous Queensland­ers”, Mr Cooke said.

“While the government is aiming for 70 per cent vaccinatio­n rates overall before border restrictio­ns begin to be lifted on

November 19, the fact that Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population continues to have very low rates of vaccinatio­n seems to have been forgotten.

“The government hasn’t talked to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about the implicatio­ns for our communitie­s of borders reopening.”

Mr Cooke said while he welcomed the certainty of a firm time frame for the easing of cross-border movement, there was now a major imperative to address the potential impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who were significan­tly at risk of Covid-19 due to chronic health conditions and overcrowde­d housing.

“Having a firm time frame makes the fact that we face a significan­t Covid wave in Queensland very real,” he said.

Mr Cooke said that the state government’s success in keeping

Covid transmissi­on low had also been a barrier for Indigenous people getting vaccinated.

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