Aboriginal communities COVID-19 advice

Everybody is at risk of getting coronavirus (COVID-19). For most people, they will only develop mild illness and recover easily, but others may develop severe sickness that affects the lungs.

People with weaker immune systems are more likely to get seriously ill. This puts Aboriginal Elders and people with chronic health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease) at risk.

SA Health is working closely with key stakeholders across the state to ensure that Aboriginal Communities have access to current, culturally appropriate and localised information.

This page contains information to help you protect yourself, your family and community.

COVID-19 vaccination

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect you, your family, your community and Elders from becoming really sick or dying from COVID-19.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are among the first priority groups to receive the vaccination in Australia because they are at increased risk of getting and developing serious illness from COVID-19. This is due to higher rates of pre-existing and chronic health conditions and in some cases crowded-living conditions, which increases the risk of spreading the virus.

Vaccination from COVID-19 will help you and your community stay strong. The vaccine works best when many people have it. Encourage your family, Elders and community to get vaccinated so that they are protected from serious illness from COVID-19.

In the coming months, South Australia will progress through a carefully planned, phased rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. Aboriginal people are in Phase 1b, which is due to start in late March 2021.

While the rollout is just beginning in South Australia, hundreds of million doses of these COVID-19 vaccines have already been given to people around the world and are working well to protect people from becoming really sick.

Where and when Aboriginal people (priority group 1b) can get the vaccine is still being worked out. SA Health will keep you updated as to when it will start as well as how and where it will be available.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, how it works, how vaccines are tested, safety and the South Australian COVID-19 Vaccination program, visit covidvaccine.sa.gov.au or follow SA Health on Facebook and Twitter. For the national COVID-19 vaccine rollout strategy announced by the Federal Government, visit Vaccine Roadmap.

Travel to Adelaide during summer

During the summer months there’s increased movement of people right across the state for cultural activities and holidays.

People from Aboriginal communities naturally want to come to Adelaide to connect with family and friends at social gatherings, for shopping and travel.

We’re reminded to be extra careful in high traffic areas such as shops and shopping centres and end of year gatherings where food is served.

These are all high touch zones that can be enjoyed in a COVID Safe way.

If you are moving around the state during these times, current SA Government COVID-19 recommendations include:

Why is COVID-19 dangerous for Aboriginal Communities?

Aboriginal people are particularly vulnerable when it comes to COVID-19 because:

  • Living arrangements and social connectedness (particularly where many people are living or gathering in one household), makes transmission more likely.
  • Aboriginal people have higher levels of pre-existing health conditions (particularly diabetes and respiratory conditions). People with these health conditions, especially those aged over 50, are at risk of more severe COVID-19 outcomes.
  • Increased remoteness makes access to health care more challenging.
  • COVID-19 can spread quickly—it will only take one person coming into the community with the sickness to put the whole community at risk.

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19

As with other respiratory illnesses, some people infected with COVID-19 may experience mild What is Covid-19 (coronavirus)? A4 Aboriginal Communities poster and will recover easily, and others may become very ill and need urgent medical care.

COVID-19 can cause mild symptoms including:

  • fever or chills
  • sore throat
  • coughing
  • running nose
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • loss of taste or smell
  • diarrhoea and vomiting

For some people, it can be more severe and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties and can even be fatal.

Call 000 if you need urgent medical help (such as chest pain or difficulty breathing) .

What should I do if I’m feeling unwell?

  • If you are severely unwell, such as chest pain or having difficulty breathing, call 000 (Triple Zero).
  • Visit the Testing for COVID-19 page for information on:
    • Who can get tested
    • How and where to get tested
    • What to do after your test
    • What to do if you have a positive or negative test result
    • What to do if you are feeling worried but well.
  • Visit the COVID-19 Clinics and Testing Centres page to find your closest dedicated testing clinic across metropolitan and regional South Australia.
  • If you are worried, keep a distance of 1.5 metres away from sick people when out and about in public spaces.
  • This also means not holding any unnecessary meetings or events, working from home where possible, not shaking hands, hugging, kissing and touching people unnecessarily or sharing food, smokes and drinks.
  • Call the SA COVID Information Line on 1800 253 787 if you want more information on COVID-19.

How does contact tracing work?

If a person gets a positive test result for COVID-19, SA Health does what is called ‘contact tracing’. This is to prevent the virus spreading further through the community.

As part of this process, the contact tracing team speak to the sick person to find out who might have had close contact with them when they would have been infectious.

For the step-by-step ‘contact tracing’ process, check out these resources:

To enhance contact tracing and keep the community COVID safe, check-in at all COVID SAfe check in locations using your mySA Gov app or fill in the paper record. This will help SA Health to quickly contact others who may have been exposed to the virus and control the spread.

For more information on the COVID SAfe check in process, visit: www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/business-and-work/covid-safe-check-in

For a list of all COVID-19 public exposure locations, check the SA Health contact tracing webpage regularly for updates.

How can I protect my community and Elders?

You can protect yourself and others by:

How can I stop the spread and stay strong?

Aboriginal people are at risk of getting really sick from COVID-19. Even if you are feeling well it is important to take steps to prevent the virus from spreading.

Good hygiene and social distancing (also called physical distancing) (PDF 332KB), are the best defences against COVID-19.

It is important that you talk to your doctor, health clinic, or pharmacy about getting a flu shot (PDF 253KB) as soon as it is available.

Read more about how to protect yourself and others (PDF 332KB).

Can I leave my house?

For the most up to date information about restrictions, directionsfrequently asked questions, and restrictions on movement into Aboriginal communities, visit the Government of South Australia COVID-19 website.

Child care arrangements during an Aboriginal community outbreak

In response to concern around family members in Aboriginal communities being separated in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak, this FAQ fact sheet (PDF 154KB) provides clarification around care arrangements for children during a COVID-19 outbreak.

Keeping in touch with your community

Staying connected with family, friends and your community is important (PDF 312KB). Some ways you can do this are:

  • calling people for a yarn on the phone
  • talking about the community and checking if they are OK
  • talking about the virus and how to stop the spread
  • connecting to family and friends on social media.

How can I keep my spirit strong?

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost every area of our lives - our health, job security, family life, and ability to engage in cultural practices. It is normal to feel things like anxiety, distress, and fear. Some people may feel grief and loss for how things used to be, particularly as we are unsure when things will go back to ‘normal’.

While COVID-19 has changed ways of being and doing, it has not changed ways of knowing. It is important that through this time, communities continue to practice culture and traditions where possible.

Practising culture helps people and communities to stay strong. While physically distancing, it is more important than ever to remain socially, emotionally and culturally connected.

Download the fact sheets below for tips on looking after your health and wellbeing or visit Open Your World website to find tools to improve wellbeing and stay healthy, active and connected.

Watch the animations for tips, talk to your local health worker or visit dedicated support webpages for Aboriginal peoples at headtohealth.gov.au if you need additional help.

Funerals and Sorry Business during COVID-19

Normally we have gatherings when someone has passed away but, during the coronavirus pandemic, larger groups of people mean greater risk of spreading the virus, especially for the more vulnerable such as Elders and people who already have health problems.

Restrictions are in place for the number of people allowed to gather for funerals and sorry business. These restrictions will change over time. For current information, visit Activities and Gatherings on the COVID-19 website.

Travel restrictions may also be in place across Australia so people may not be able to travel to attend gatherings.

Read the sorry business and funerals fact sheet (PDF 251KB) for more information.

Visit the Government of South Australia COVID-19 website to understand the current restrictions in South Australia.

Restrictions on movement into remote Aboriginal communities

For the most up to date information about restrictions, directions and other frequently asked questions, visit the Government of South Australia COVID-19 website.