Concerns for remote Aboriginal communities in Ahitereiria

By Aroha Mane

Covid has reached the remote areas of Australia's Aboriginal communities and its impact has been devastating.

In the small New South Wales town of In Wilcannia one in seven people are infected with Covid-19. Now urgent action is being sought from the Australian government.

Located in New South Wales, Wilcannia is located 10 miles northwest of Sydney and seven miles north of Adelaide. It is the homeland of the Barkindji mob.

Indigenous studies Professor Susan Green claims the government neglected requests from Aboriginal communities for help before Covid-19 had such a devastating impact.

“By next week we will be lucky if there is anybody within the Aboriginal community who doesn't have this virus.”

Overcrowding has forced families to isolate in tents. The government eventually sent motorhomes.

Outdated donated food

 “Well they're here today and we're very happy that they are here,” says Wilcannia river radio station manager Brendon Adams says.

“This will really contribute greatly towards eradicating it or certainly bringing it to a level that is more manageable,” says Umit Agis from the Far West Local Health District.

Grees says this is only touching the surface of what's really happening in Wilcannia.

“People are being picked up in what we call paddy wagons, so that's the police van with a cage on the back, to be taken for medical treatment whether they are Covid positive or not. There is not a food supply in many cases and people are dependent upon donations and foods in those donations are quite often out of date. On the ground the service doesn't have the capability to manage the size of the devastation that's happening.”

Authorities have created an isolation hub with restricted access. That's a concern about the well-being of aboriginal families.

“While they are locked down we still need to be there for our families and culturally they have ignored that,” Adams says.