Jobs Events Advertise

Understanding key to jab push

Aleisha Orr -

Understanding COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Aboriginal communities is proving vital in the push to increase vaccination rates.

As of December 1, 57.5 per cent of the Aboriginal population in Western Australia had received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination and 39.4 per cent had received both doses. This is compared to 86.7 per cent of the general population across the state having had one COVID-19 jab and 76.4 per cent having also had their second.

Yamatji Noongar woman Sharon Wood-Kenney, who has been part of a team holding information sessions with Indigenous people in Perth about vaccinations, said many of the sessions were spent discussing why people did not want to get vaccinated.

"We run our sessions to myth-bust, to talk about what's going on, to answer questions â€" I'm finding a lot of people not really sure about what the facts are about COVID," she said.

Ms Wood-Kenney, pictured, said coming from a family that was affected by the Stolen Generation, she understood hesitancy about trusting the Government, but stressed the advice and information were coming from health experts.

With restrictions on the State border set to be removed when 90 per cent of West Australians are vaccinated, community transmission of the virus is inevitable, according to modelling done by the WA Health Department.

Research at the University of Western Australia has studied the possible transmission of the virus by looking at the movements and interactions made by people.

UWA mathematics Professor Michael Small said the remoteness of many of WA's Aboriginal communities was not likely to be enough to protect them without other protective measures.

"In the Kimberley and the Pilbara, the fact that you have a lot of remote communities and, we presume, quite a bit of movement between them and between the regional centres actually creates much more mixing and a much stronger risk of transmission," he said.

If the virus reaches the settlement of Pandanus Park, near Derby, community members may have to quickly get used to wearing face masks. Community chairperson Patricia Riley said the community had not had to wear masks, so most households would not have any.

"I'm very confused about this COVID, I haven't come across one person in the Kimberley who has been a victim of COVID-19."

Ms Riley told the National Indigenous Times she was notaware of any COVID-19 information sessions held in her community of about 80 people.

The closest she's come to a COVID-19 vaccination is seeing cars from employment providers coming into the community to take people to have the jab because they "need to have it to keep a job".

The State Government has begun a push to bring the vaccine directly to communities. Local leaders such as health staff, police and Aboriginal-led organisations will be yarning to community members and helping them to access the vaccine.

Premier Mark McGowan has warned movement restrictions may be imposed on regions not meeting WA's 90 per cent vaccination target.

By Aleisha Orr


Health experts on a mission to fight rheumatic heart disease in Mparntwe
The Deadly Heart Trek will launch its fourth leg in Mparntwe/Alice Springs, in a battle to address the critical health issue of...
Dechlan Brennan 28 Feb 2024
Indigenous-led model sees a reduction in Indigenous infants being removed by child services
Women who receive support through an Indigenous-led model of maternity care are three times less likely to have Indigenous newbo...
Dechlan Brennan 26 Feb 2024
Inquest into death of Indigenous man begins in Dubbo
An Indigenous man who died less than 24 hours after being discharged from Dubbo hospital was wrongly diagnosed with a drug-induc...
Dechlan Brennan 26 Feb 2024
'Long hard road' to inquest into Indigenous man's death
The family of a man who died soon after being discharged from a NSW regional hospital hope an inquest will make the healthcare...
Stephanie Gardiner 26 Feb 2024

   Aleisha Orr   

EXCLUSIVE: No clarification on vaccine mandate for Traditional Owners
The Kimberley Land Council (KLC) is calling for the WA Government to enforce its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the resources indu...
Aleisha Orr 9 Mar 2022
Looking back 50 years: The Aboriginal Tent Embassy
Back on January 26, 1972 when Euahlayi man (Ghillar) Michael Anderson was just 20-years-old, he arrived in Canberra to bring the...
Aleisha Orr 26 Jan 2022
Video posted online shows shocking reality for some in the Kimberley
More needs to be done to support families caught in cycles of poverty, drugs and violence in the Kimberley town of Derby accordi...
Aleisha Orr 15 Jan 2022
Murrina acquires operations in milestone deal
The Murrina Group has made a deal it hopes will assist it to become a key player in the construction industry. The Murrina Gr...
Aleisha Orr 14 Jan 2022