9 July 2021
Instead of calling in the police, engaging with community leaders in Western Sydney is a better way to manage the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant.
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie:
“For many months the community sector have asked to work closely with all layers of government to provide communications, feedback from communities and to partner with government and public health officials every step of our COVID response.
“Community leaders have worked hard day and night to support their communities, including people from culturally and linguistically communities who want to know what to do during lockdowns and how to get vaccinated. The community sector has called for genuine partnership as part of developing an effective COVID-19 response yet faced multiple barriers often for months.
“The community sector again calls for a fair and consistent approach across different geographic areas and for government and health officials to prioritise engaging with communities, not excessive policing, to keep us all safe.”
Settlement Services International (SSI) CEO and ACOSS Board Director Violet Roumeliotis:
“Our infrastructure of community leaders and organisations was very effective during the Casula outbreak last year – they were able to inform people to avoid public gatherings and stay home.
“Community leaders have access to zoom, you-tube channels and phone trees to spread messages effectively and quickly, because they are trusted – whether the priority message is to further restrict movements, or to get COVID tests.”
“People in Western Sydney want to get vaccinated – we ran four booked out vaccination sessions. People heard by word of mouth, and they felt more comfortable at our hub. But NSW Health said they didn’t have the resources to continue.”
Federation of Ethnic Community Councils (FECCA) Chair Mary Patetsos
“In a health crisis it’s more appropriate to meaningfully engage and partner with communities affected, and to encourage a recruitment drive of health professionals and GPs from those communities and equip them with everything they need to be at the front line. Our communities and their leaders have done so much and we need to listen to them and be guided by them. If this partnership was in place, we wouldn’t need the police.”
Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA) CEO Sandra Wright:
“We need to be careful about making assumptions about why people haven’t been following some rules or getting vaccinated. We’re currently engaging with health officials to work on an effective vaccination roll out in migrant and refugee communities.”
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) CEO Kon Karapanagiotidis:
“We need a more community-led approach that includes culturally inclusive communication. Obvious barriers preventing people from accessing basic information need to be removed. Currently all the information to book a vaccination is in English. Why haven’t we got multilingual hotlines for COVID information, or multilingual platforms to register for your vaccinations?”