Information and resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

In order to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Victoria, we must all do our part. We know it’s tough, but together we can keep our families, mob and ourselves safe, strong and well.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community sector partners are working closely with government to coordinate response plans and ensure communities have the necessary information, resources and support they need.

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On this page

Staying safe during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Watch these important messages about getting tested for coronavirus (COVID-19)

Are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people more at risk of coronavirus (COVID-19)?

There are a couple of reasons why risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission is higher and why it can cause more severe symptoms. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50 years, or who have a pre-existing health condition, such as diabetes, asthma, heart and lung conditions, or immune problems, are at higher risk of developing a severe illness associated with coronavirus (COVID-19). Younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can also get coronavirus (COVID-19) and infect family, friends and Elders.

As a lot of mob often live under the same roof, it’s also harder to practise physical distancing and isolation, which increases the risk of spreading the disease within the community.

For more information about how you can keep mob safe and help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), read the Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians factsheet (Word).

What are the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Loss or changes in sense of smell or taste
  • Fever
  • Chills or sweats
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose

Headache, muscle soreness, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea can also occur.

No matter how mild the symptoms, it is important that you get tested as soon as you show any of the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). You must get tested every time you have symptoms, even if you have been tested before.

Testing in Victoria is:

  • available at culturally safe health services; check in with your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCO) to find your nearest culturally safe testing point
  • available to people with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, however mild
  • free and widely available
  • fast, taking around a minute and involves a swab from the back of your throat and nose.

Find your nearest coronavirus (COVID-19) testing location.

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) has a wide range of information available:

You can also call the dedicated coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398 to find out where you can get tested or visit

What do I do after the test?

After your test, you must return home immediately and stay home until you receive your test result. This is also known as isolating. You must do this because there is a risk that you could have coronavirus (COVID-19) and infect other people. For general information about what is involved in testing, visit the Taking the test page.

For information about testing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians, read the COVID-19 Testing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians factsheet (Word).

What can I do to reduce the risk of getting coronavirus (COVID-19)?

There are four key things you can do to keep yourself, families and mob safe:

  • Stay at home and get tested if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild.
  • Practise good hygiene – wash your hands regularly and cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.
  • Keep your distance – stay 1.5 metres away from anyone you don’t live with.
  • Wear a fitted face mask that covers your nose and mouth when you leave home.

Are Victoria’s health and community services culturally safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians?

Victorian health and human service providers are committed to creating an environment that is safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

More information about why cultural safety is important and cultural safety guidelines are available in the Ensuring cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people factsheet (Word)

How do Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations access personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies?

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations can access PPE and the supplies they need to keep workers and communities safe, provide testing, treatment and support services in Victoria.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations can submit requests for PPE to COVID19PPErequest@dhhs.vic.gov.au. To ensure your request is processed promptly, please follow the guidance outlined in the Personal protective equipment factsheet (Word).

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Staying connected to community, Country and culture

Community is an important aspect to Aboriginal culture. It is important to stay connected with community and your social networks during this time apart from each other.

You can stay connected by:

  • following your local Aboriginal community organisations on Facebook and/or Instagram for updates on their services
  • joining local community groups on social media 
  • maintaining contact with loved ones via FaceTime and social media
  • allowing kids to maintain social contact with their school friends, cousins and grandparents via the phone, FaceTime and/or social media
  • staying in contact with your employer to ensure you are getting regular updates relevant to your job  
  • maintaining contact with your children’s school teachers, they may be able to offer work packs for kids to do from home or access to e-learning
  • looking after your physical and mental wellbeing by going out for some fresh air, a walk or some other exercise each day.

Koorie Heritage Trust offer a range of programs and services dedicated solely to Koorie voices, stories, art, culture and history.

For young people - join the Koorie Youth Council to network and connect with other deadly young people. 

This is a great time to build cultural connection with your family, children and mob. For tips and ideas, read our Physical distancing activities and tips factsheet (Word).

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Current restrictions levels

Restrictions are in place to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) by reducing the number of people leaving their homes and moving around Victoria.

To find out what restrictions you must follow and the steps Victoria is taking to reopen, please visit the current restrictions page.

Do I need to wear a face mask?

Yes. If you are indoors (except in your own home) or it is not possible to stay more than 1.5 metres away from people you don’t live with. Everyone in Victoria aged 12 years and older needs to carry a fitted face mask outside of their home, unless they have a lawful reason not to wear one. Face masks must be worn outdoors in settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained, such as a train station or an outdoor food market. 

Wearing a fitted face mask provides an additional physical barrier and helps to reduce community transmission. Please read our Mandatory fitted face masks for all Victorians fact sheet (Word). For more information visit the face masks: Whole of Victoria page.

Can Sorry Business/Sad News still take place?

To help keep mob safe and prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), Sorry Business for Aboriginal communities and Sad News for Torres Strait Islander communities must be done in different ways. There are restrictions for how you conduct Sorry Business/Sad News, no matter where you live in Victoria.

For guidance about how to conduct Sorry Business/Sad News under Victoria’s current restrictions, please read our Aboriginal Sorry Business factsheet (Word).

Can I go camping on Country?

Camping on Country is allowed as you can currently travel anywhere in Victoria. There are no restrictions on the distance you can travel across Victoria.

Can mob gather outdoors?

You can leave home for any period of time to exercise or see friends and family outdoors. There are no limits on the number of times you can leave home.

You can meet in a group of up to ten people from a maximum of two households outdoors in a public place to socialise or exercise (children under 12 months of age not included in the limit). An outdoor public place means areas accessible to everyone, including local parks and beaches. This replaces the limit of five people from a maximum of two households.

When you leave home, you must carry a fitted face mask, unless you have a reason for not doing so. Face masks remain mandatory indoors (except in your own home) and no longer required outdoors where it is possible to stay more than 1.5 metres away from people you don’t live with. To find out what specific restrictions you must follow, please visit the current restrictions page.

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Financial help and support

What financial support is available?

If you are worried you will lose income while you wait for your test result, you may be eligible for a $450 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test Isolation Payment. This payment provides financial support while you are in isolation and waiting for your test results.

If you test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), you may be eligible for the $1500 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Worker Support Payment. This payment provides financial support while you are isolating at home as instructed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

To find out if you are eligible, call the coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398 or visit the Financial support for coronavirus (COVID-19) page for more information.

How do I access emergency relief?

We are working to ensure that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians are supported with their food and essential needs.

If you are isolating and require emergency relief, call the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398 to request an emergency relief package.

Emergency relief packages contain essential food staples including cereal, long-life milk, sugar, pasta and canned vegetables.

Personal care items such as soap, deodorant and toothpaste are also provided as part of the packages. Nappies and baby formula can be provided if requested. The packages do not include medicines, incontinence and personal hygiene products, or pet food.

If you are not isolating and require emergency relief, you can contact your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation for support.

Aboriginal organisations and community services are able to submit requests for emergency care packages on behalf of clients by emailing semc@dhhs.vic.gov.au.

There are several large supermarkets offering food and groceries priority access to vulnerable people during coronavirus (COVID-19). You can find eligibility criteria and more information about these services in the Access to food and essential supplies – supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians factsheet (Word).

For information about all the available emergency relief supports, read the Access to food and essential supplies – supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians factsheet (Word).

If you would like help with your electricity or gas bills, read the Information for Aboriginal Victorians regarding help with electricity and gas bills factsheet (Word).

What is the Coronavirus Aboriginal Community Response and Recovery Fund?

The Victorian Government has established a fund to support Aboriginal organisations and individuals to deliver community-led initiatives in response to the impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The fund will provide grants for initiatives that support emergency relief, outreach and brokerage, cultural strengthening, and social and emotional wellbeing. 

For full eligibility criteria and to submit an application, please visit the Aboriginal Victoria website. Applications must be submitted by 30 November 2020.

 

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Looking after your mental health

It’s important that mob looks after their mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Remember that you are not alone, and support is available. Visit the Mental health resources page for resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians.

If you or someone you love is feeling anxious, lonely or uncertain, you can call:

  • Yarning SafeNStrong - Call 1800 95 95 63 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). A free and confidential phone crisis line for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and families who just want to have a yarn with someone about their wellbeing.
    www.vahs.org.au
  • Dardi Munwurro Aboriginal Men's Support Line - Call 1800 435 799 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). A free and confidential phone support line for Aboriginal men to reach out to yarn with someone when times are tough.
    www.dardimunwurro.com.au
  • Lifeline Australia - Call 13 11 14 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). A crisis support service offering short term support at any time for people who are having difficulty coping or staying safe.
    www.lifeline.org.au
  • Beyond Blue - Call 1800 650 893 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). A coronavirus (COVID-19) mental wellbeing support service.
    https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au

Self-care Toolkit

Taking care of your mental and physical health has never been more important. Take a look at this resource for self-care advice that will help you feel healthier and happier.

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Caring for Elders

Can I care for Elders?

You can visit Elders and other people in their homes for caregiving purposes. If you are a caregiver, you should practise proper hygiene, minimise physical contact, and always wear a fitted face mask that covers your nose and mouth if you do not live with the person. Please remember that Elders and any Aboriginal person aged over 50 is at a higher risk of contracting coronavirus (COVID-19) and experiencing severe symptoms.

More information and resources for older people, their family, friends and carers is available.

Supporting Elders in the aged care sector

For coronavirus (COVID-19) resources and information for the aged care sector, please visit the Aged care sector page.

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Family violence support

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 000.

With more people staying at home to reduce the community spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), there may be an increased risk for women and children experiencing family violence or abuse.

If you or someone you know is experiencing family violence, you are not alone. There is help available. For more information and advice, please visit the Family violence crisis response and support during coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

Family violence support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians is also available through the Orange Door where you can choose to be supported by an Aboriginal Worker or be referred to an Aboriginal service.

Other resources:

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Information for people with disability

For information and considerations specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability and people caring for them, visit the Information for people with disability - coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

The First Peoples Disability Network has also developed a series of short films to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and ensure families and communities are safe.

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Find your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation

Find your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation

 

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'Staying apart, keeps mob together' campaign materials

These campaign materials can be used by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and community.

*Download as static image or gif.

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Resources