COVID-19 coronavirus: remote Aboriginal communities

Safety and support measures to protect remote Aboriginal communities.

A collection of resources, contacts and information for remote communities about COVID-19 coronavirus and how to stay safe.

Health advice

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Symptoms

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms are similar to cold and flu and can include:

  • fever (sweats and shivering)
  • cough or shortness of breath / difficulty breathing
  • sore throat
  • loss of taste and smell.

You can check your symptoms on the Australian Government’s healthdirect website.

If you are unwell and think you have symptoms of coronavirus, you should call your local health clinic immediately.

In emergencies, call triple zero (000) straight away.

When will symptoms start to show?

Symptoms may start to show between 2-14 days of exposure to the virus. You may be sick and contagious but not show any symptoms at all.

More information

Medical help

If you are sick and think you have symptoms of coronavirus, stay home and call your local health clinic immediately.

If the health clinic says that you may have coronavirus, you will be tested for the virus and other bugs. Some tests can get an answer back quickly.

Testing is available at all WA Country Health Service sites, as well as clinics operated by Aboriginal medical services, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Silver Chain.

In emergencies, call triple zero (000) straight away.

More information

  • Call the COVID-19 Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.

Prevention

You can get coronavirus from other people, or from touching things that other people have touched or coughed on. You may have coronavirus without knowing it, and you can give it to other people without meaning to.

Everyone must practice good hygiene and keep at least 1.5 metres (two big steps) from others to slow the spread of coronavirus and protect people who are most at risk.

How to help stop the spread of coronavirus

  • wash your hands frequently with soap and water
  • avoid touching your face
  • regularly clean and disinfect surfaces, like tables, kitchen benches, phones and doorknobs
  • cover your cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, and throw away used tissues
  • practice physical distancing, which means stand at least 1.5 metres away from other people when talking, including family
  • if you feel unwell, stay home and avoid contact with others.

There are also government rules in place to keep communities safe from coronavirus (see the Community safety section).

If you have coronavirus

If you have coronavirus follow up-to-date directions on the COVID-19 Coronavirus: Testing and isolation guide. This protocol will help you know when and how long you need to isolate for if you are COVID-19 positive.

What to do if you are a confirmed positive case:

  • Isolate at home for 7 days
  • If you have no symptoms after 7 days, then no further test is required, and you can stop isolating
  • If you have symptoms on day 7, remain in isolation until those symptoms clear or get clearance from a medical professional before leaving isolation

More information

People most at risk

Anyone can become sick from coronavirus, but some people are at higher risk of serious illness if they get the virus.

People most at risk include:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and older
  • those who already have a health problem (such as diabetes or heart disease)

If you are in the above categories, it is very important that you stay away from people who are unwell and continue to practice physical distancing and good personal hygiene.

Mental wellbeing

It’s normal to feel lots of emotions during a difficult time like this. You may feel stress, anxiety, grief, boredom and worry. It’s important to look after yourself.

Wellbeing tips

To look after your mental wellbeing, you should try to:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about coronavirus repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Eat healthy food, exercise regularly, drink plenty of water, get good sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Do some activities you enjoy at home.
  • Connect with others. Talk with friends and family about how you are feeling.

Get help and support

For 24-hour support, you can call:

If you or someone you know is at immediate risk of harm, call 000.

More information

Community safety

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For information about what you can and can't do with the current restrictions follow the directions on the link provided: COVID-19 coronavirus: What you can and can't do. 

Community support

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Self-isolation accommodation

Assistance is available for residents of remote Aboriginal communities who need temporary accommodation in town to self-isolate (see the Health advice section).

For more information, contact the Disaster Response Hotline on 1800 032 965.

Food and essential supplies

The State Government is working with suppliers, transport companies and major supermarkets to ensure that remote Aboriginal communities continue to have access to food and other essential items.

Deliveries will continue – they are not impacted by travel restrictions.

If you are having difficulty obtaining food or other essential items, please call 13 COVID (13 268 43) or the Disaster Response Hotline on 1800 032 965.

Funeral assistance

It’s safe to have a funeral during COVID-19. From 27 June 2020, there are no limits on how many people can attend a funeral. 

People should keep 1.5 metres (two big steps) away from each other, keep their hands clean and avoid touching others.

The Department of Communities offers financial support to people who are unable to pay for funeral costs. The family member organising the funeral can apply for assistance at their nearest Department of Communities office.

For more information on how to apply, visit Bereavement Assistance Program or free call 1800 854 925.

More information

Phone connection

Telstra payphones

To help residents of remote Aboriginal communities stay connected to friends, family and health care services, calls from Telstra payphones in remote Aboriginal communities are now free.

Free calls will also enable residents to access important information during the coronavirus pandemic.

The free payphones will display ‘Free Calls from Telstra’ on their screens.

More information

Family and domestic violence

Family and domestic violence can get worse during a crisis. There are support services available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Emergency and helpline contacts

  • In an emergency, or if someone is in immediate danger, call 000 now
  • To seek help safely online, go to the 1800 Respect website.
  • If you need support, call the domestic violence helplines:
    • Women's Domestic Violence Helpline – 9223 1188 or free call 1800 007 339
    • Men's Domestic Violence Helpline – 9223 1199 or free call 1800 000 599.

More information

Information about support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is available on the Department of Communities website.

Messages in language

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Audio messages for remote Aboriginal communities
Page reviewed 28 March 2022