Protect the Northern Territory from COVID-19 while we still can - with a special control area  

[by Elke Wiesmann]

Image: supplied

The Central Land Council strongly backs the call of the Combined Aboriginal Organisations of Alice Springs to declare the entire Northern Territory a special control area.


“Unlike the rest of the country, the Territory is ahead of the curve,” CLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard, pictured above, said.


“We need urgent and drastic action now to keep it that way.


“Right now, we have a small window of opportunity to stop the virus from spreading in the Territory and we want governments to “do what it takes” to use it.


“If we don’t act now we will sooner or later end up with the same level of infection as Sydney and Melbourne, only with far fewer hospital beds and other basic health resources to treat our sick. 


“Our constituents worry that an entire generation of elders could be wiped out if we allowed the virus to enter their communities, and that the death toll even among younger family members would be far higher than for the rest of the nation.


“It would be unforgivable to let that happen.”


The CLC is using all available communications channels to reassure remote community residents that, as long as they are not sick and need health services in regional centres, right now the safest place for them is in their communities and outstations.


“We’re telling them to stay on country and look after family and we will absolutely hold the NT government to its promise that they will have everything they need right there,” said Mr Martin-Jard.


In order to encourage people to spend their money in their own stores governments should subsidise store operators to offer goods at the same prices as major supermarkets in town.


“We need price parity with Alice Springs and Tennant Creek to support people to stay on country,” he said.


“The federal government’s $750 cash payment won’t go very far in community stores, where prices are approximately 60 per cent higher and this will be an incentive for our people to travel to town to do their shopping.”


Coronavirus call to protect Aboriginal communities from tourists


In Broome, the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) says tourists pose an unacceptable risk to vulnerable Aboriginal populations across the Kimberley.

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