SPONSORED: As COVID-19 cases increase across Western Australia’s Kimberley region, Winun Ngari Aboriginal Corporation is doing its part to ensure the number of cases in the Shire of Derby-West Kimberley remains at zero.

As all Community Development Programme activities have been suspended across the country, Winun Ngari has shifted its focus from serving jobseekers to assisting its most vulnerable clients and community members.

The organisation is also an NDIS community connector, assisting people living with disability in the area by connecting them to much-needed services.

“Winun Ngari has been working closely with their clients to ensure their needs are addressed through the various agencies,” said CEO Susan Murphy.

“This is being carried out through phone and email contact, and at times home visits, only if necessary. Self-distancing plus hygiene are practiced at all times.”

Since COVID-19 has seen the closure of Winun Ngari’s offices, much of their services have been delivered via telephone and email from staff working from home.

“It has been hard to deliver services such as cleaning [and] gardening … as some services are closed and struggling to keep staff to carry out the delivery of services.”

Murphy said she and staff are working to keep everyone informed as early as possible.

“We email out COVID-19 information and updates each day received from KAMS, AHCWA, Kimberley Bulletin, Senator Dean Smith [plus] the Biosecurity Determination conditions to our staff, remote communities and networks.

“Everyone is encouraged to pass onto their networks so the information does get out there to the wider public.

“We have [also] put up posters in our offices, Derby Post Office, Facebook, websites and around town where allowed.”

Murphy said although social distancing and hand hygiene measures have taken some getting used to in communities, people are starting to listen and act.

“Self-distancing is not a practice that we’re used to, so we need to be patient, although honestly most of our people are getting the message and are putting in place all the requirements to stay healthy and safe,” she said.

“There are no positive cases in the Shire of Derby-West Kimberley at all.”

The majority of cases are in Broome, where 11 people have tested positive for COVID-19. There are also four cases in Halls Creek—all health workers—and three in Kununurra, as of April 16.

Part of Winun Ngari’s success can be attributed to their comprehensive pandemic protocols.

“We have a pandemic plan for each of our staff and their family unit, plus we also have a pandemic plan for the organisation as a whole,” Murphy said.

“Each remote community that we deliver services to also [has] their own pandemic plans with copies provided to us and WA Department of Communities.”

The CEO admits it’s been a difficult transition, but that Winun Ngari is doing its best to stay up to date with messaging and to lead by example by practicing social distancing and hand hygiene.

“The message that we’re trying to get out is keep safe; practice hygiene and social distancing,” Murphy said.

“It’s important we get the message out that everybody practices [these measures].”

By Hannah Cross