A super vaccination weekend for Aboriginal communities
In support of a state-wide push to close the gap in COVID-19 vaccination rates between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, SESLHD welcomed hundreds of Aboriginal community members at dedicated vaccination clinics in Sutherland and Surry Hills over the weekend.
The Population and Community Health directorate teamed up with Aboriginal health workers from across the District and St Vincent’s Hospital to provide an opportunity for local Aboriginal families to walk in and be vaccinated in a culturally safe environment.
Tim Croft Jangari, Manager of SESLHD's Aboriginal Health Unit, said: “It’s very important that we offer COVID-19 vaccination to our Aboriginal community members in a culturally safe way in their local community. We’ve seen a fantastic response from the community who are keen to help protect our elders, Aunties, Uncles, kids, and all of our mob.”
Last weekend’s initiative springboards off a months long effort led by the Public Health Unit (PHU) and the Aboriginal Health Unit (AHU) to get Aboriginal people vaccinated. During April to August the PHU and AHU partnered with La Perouse and Menai Community Health Centres to run 12 pop-up clinics, providing easy access to vaccination for Aboriginal people and their household members.
Before the first COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Australia, the PHU and AHU had already started holding consultations with Aboriginal communities in SESLHD. These Q&A sessions, along with surveys, were essential to inform the planning and operation of the clinics.
“The PHU Aboriginal support team and senior PHU specialists welcomed the Aboriginal community to a safe space to yarn and ask questions that concerned them,” Mr Croft Jangari said.
“Community members were also invited to call an Aboriginal specific hotline with their questions, which was set up at the PHU in early 2021."
At the clinics, Aboriginal health workers’ community connections helped ensure Aboriginal people were offered the cultural support and care needed to build trust, respect and safety. Culturally-appropriate resources and a simplified booking and consent process made the experience as easy as possible.
Phoebe Ng, Operations Manager for the PHU, said: “We also enlisted a number of well-known local Aboriginal people as ambassadors to encourage people to come forward for vaccination.”
“This included rugby union legends Glen and Gary Ella, and Koori Radio host Lola Forrester, who all got vaccinated at our clinics and encouraged their communities to do the same,” Ms Ng said.
The feedback from community members who attended the Aboriginal clinics has been extremely positive. Here is a selection:
- “I would like to thank the Public Health Unit for setting up a clinic for the Aboriginal community at La Perouse. The clinics were well organised, efficient, and staff were helpful and provided great support to ensure I understood the process for both COVID-19 vaccinations. I can't thank them enough for providing a service to the community, on Country.”
- “The clinic was deadly, they made it so easy to book. They gave us information and a number to call if we wanted to speak to any Koori health workers. If they didn’t bring it to the community I probably wouldn’t have gotten vaccinated.”
- “It was great and less stressful to be able to attend a clinic in our own community, close to home, where we feel safe and to be vaccinated as a family. The clinic was very welcoming and all the staff working at the clinics were friendly and professional. Thank you to everyone involved in keeping our mob safe.”
In this short film produced by Kirketon Road Centre, Aboriginal community members share their experiences of attending Population and Community Health’s Aboriginal vaccination clinics.