Jobs Events Advertise

Tourists attempting to get vaccinated in closed remote Aboriginal communities

Sarah Smit -

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services has raised the alarm about alleged cases of tourists attempting to get COVID-19 vaccines intended for high risk Aboriginal people.

Under the WA Government's Remote Aboriginal Communities Directions, only those who live, work or provide essential services in a closed remote Aboriginal community are permitted to enter.

Anyone who enters a closed community without a valid reason can be hit with fines of up to $50,000 and of the 274 WA Aboriginal communities with a listed status, 245 are closed to travellers.

KAMS medical director Dr Lorraine Anderson said there have been cases of complete disregard for signage warning travellers that communities are closed.

"All of the closed communities have got signs out, they've got barrels out, the roads are closed; [tourists] are just driving around," she said.

Several tourists have visited vaccination clinics in communities and asked to be administered doses of the vaccine, Dr Anderson told The West Australian.

The incidents have angered medical staff and Indigenous communities who are working tirelessly to vaccinate their people.

"Sitting in the waiting room of one of our clinics while we've got the most vulnerable population in the country there and we've got tourists disregarding the law and putting those people at risk; I don't know what they don't understand about this," she said.

Rollout of the Pfizer vaccine into remote communities has seen just 310 doses administered and immunisations made available at every remote clinic within 10 days.

Dr Anderson said it was important the rollout continues.

"We've got a massive unvaccinated population and a massive pandemic bearing down on us so there is absolute urgency that people get vaccinated."

WA Premier Mark McGowan has slammed cases of tourists entering remote communities closed to visitors, calling the travellers "disrespectful".

"This is completely unacceptable, not only for the health of local Aboriginal people, but it's disrespectful to those communities," he said.

"No one wants a COVID outbreak in a remote Aboriginal community. Tourists need to follow the rules like everyone else."

The Premier told reporters the tourists are endangering lives in the communities.

"Essentially, what we've given is a blanket ruling, that you shouldn't go into remote Aboriginal communities unless that remote Aboriginal community has made an informed decision to allow you to go in," he said.

"There's often signage saying don't come in; there's rules around people not being permitted to come in, and some people are breaching that rule."

Mr McGowan said he wants to ensure WA's Aboriginal population is protected as Aboriginal people are "far more susceptible to viruses".

"[Tourists are] endangering the lives of people in those communities, and they're breaking the law and they shouldn't do it."

By Sarah Smit


Authorities drop case against Cree-Iroquois journalist
Canadian authorities have dropped their case against Cree and Iroquois journalist Brandi Morin.Ms Morin’s lawyer Richard Mirasty...
Giovanni Torre 2 Mar 2024
Janine Mohamed to stand down as Lowitja Institute CEO
Janine Mohamed has announced she will stand down as chief executive of the Lowitja Institute after five years in the role.  The...
Dechlan Brennan 2 Mar 2024
Debbie Kilroy slams Queensland's expansion of youth detention, and calls for community solutions
Queensland Premier Steven Miles and Youth Justice Minister Di Farmer initiated the construction of a new 80-bed youth detention...
Joseph Guenzler 1 Mar 2024
Canada's largest private sector union condemns arrest of First Nations journalist, warns of threat to democracy
Canada's largest private sector union has slammed the arrest and charging of an Indigenous journalist as a threat to "Canadian n...
Giovanni Torre 1 Mar 2024

   Sarah Smit   

Concerns at Banksia Hill staff levels
Content warning: This story contains details some readers may find distressing. More people have spoken out about the Banksia H...
Sarah Smit 8 Dec 2021
Councillor proud to be force for good
Wangkatja Yilka woman Cr Shaneane Weldon was first elected to the Shire of Laverton Council in 2005. Fifteen years later, she...
Sarah Smit 2 Dec 2021
Ernie out on Country to encourage mob to get jabs
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the Pilbara is proceeding slowly but a push to translate jab information into Martu and a visit...
Sarah Smit 2 Dec 2021
Heroes & History
An exhibition this summer in Roebourne celebrates the Elders and history of the Yindjibarndi nation through their art and memori...
Sarah Smit 2 Dec 2021