Labor First Nations Ministers and Shadow Ministers held an historic first meeting yesterday to discuss issues confronting Indigenous Australians as the nation responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting of Labor’s federal, state and territory Indigenous affairs counterparts discussed the preparedness of government and communities, as well as the strategies being implemented to protect and support Indigenous Australians during the pandemic.
Indigenous Australians are particularly vulnerable to serious infection from COVID-19 due to higher rates of chronic illness.
The meeting was hosted by Federal Labor’s First Nation’s Caucus Committee and chaired by Senator for the Northern Territory Malarndirri McCarthy.
Some of the key issues identified in the discussion included:
- Ensuring food security, particularly for remote communities;
- Enforcing strict border controls;
- Ensuring public health information is effectively communicated to First Nations communities; and
- Personal protective and other medical equipment for Aboriginal community controlled health organisations.
There was strong agreement from the meeting that government and communities remain vigilant and disciplined, with consensus that current controls and restrictions protecting First Nations communities should not be wound back under the current circumstances.
These meetings will coordinate and optimise Labor’s response to the impact of COVID-19 on First Nations people nationally.
It will also strengthen Labor’s resolve to ensure that First Nations policies – including the important issues of Reconciliation and Treaty – do not fall by the wayside and remain firmly on the national agenda after the pandemic.
And if there’s one thing we’ve all learned from this pandemic – closing the gap in health and access to healthcare are more important than before.
The historic meeting was hosted by Federal Labor’s First Nation’s Caucus Committee and chaired by Senator for the Northern Territory Malarndirri McCarthy.
- Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians & Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services
- Senator Patrick Dodson, Shadow Assistant Minister for Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians & Shadow Assistant Minister for Reconciliation
- Warren Snowdon MP, Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians
- Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, Chair of First Nations Caucus
- Alicia Payne MP, Secretary of First Nations Caucus
- Senator Louise Pratt
- Senator Marielle Smith
- Senator Nita Green
- Luke Gosling MP
- Ged Kearney MP
- Representatives of Anthony Albanese MP, Leader of the Australian Labor Party
Australian Capital Territory Labor
- Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
Northern Territory Labor
- Selena Uibo MLA, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs
- Jackie Trad MP, Deputy Premier, Treasurer & Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
South Australian Labor
- Kyam Maher MLC, Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs
- Rebecca White MP, Leader of the Opposition
- Jennifer Houston MP
- Gabrielle Williams MP, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs
Western Australian Labor
- Representative of Ben Wyatt MLA, Treasurer & Minister for Aboriginal Affairs