One of Australia’s largest indigenous communities demands that they be exempted from coronavirus laws’
Aboriginal community requests special exemption from strict COVID-19 laws – claiming lockdowns have made them ‘frustrated’
- An indigenous community in Far North Queensland wants an exemption from COVID-19
- The community has been stopped from going to Cairns, 50 km away
- Residents cannot go to school, to get the essential items according to the rules
- The mayor of the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council writes to the federal health minister
- Here’s how you can help people affected by Covid-19
A remote indigenous community pleads with the government to exempt them from coronavirus laws.
Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council, in Far North Queensland, plans to write a letter to the Federal Minister for Health about restrictions imposed on remote communities.
Residents cannot go to school, do not leave to get essential items or fish according to the rules.
Mayor Ross Andrews told it ABC residents found it difficult to maintain ties with Cairns, just 50 km away.
Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council, in Far North Queensland, plans to write a letter to the federal health minister about restrictions on remote communities
Mayor Ross Andrews (pictured) told the residents of ABC that it was difficult to maintain ties with Cairns, just 50 km away
“We have been limited for the past ten weeks and we should try to support some of our community members,” said Councilor Andrews.
“People here have been commuting to and from Cairns, Gordonvale and Edmonton for many years to do their groceries, banking and daily business, and we also have children who go to school in Gordonvale.”
He said it is unclear what the exemption council will ask because they need to balance public health and emergency relief for residents.
“It is important for us to find a little balance where we can support our elderly and sick [and] how can we accommodate our children who go to school and people who want to do essential shopping during the winter months, ”he said.
Earlier this month, protests broke out in the community over frustrations at how “suppressive” coronavirus laws damaged their daily lives.
Thirty people gathered outside the offices of the congregation shouting “stop oppression” and “freedom.”
Anyone leaving the community must be quarantined for two weeks upon return.
Activities such as fishing for food are also excluded during the pandemic and the lack of access to other essential goods.
Statements made under the Biosafety Laws in March limited many aspects of daily life for remote communities.
Queensland Human Rights Commissioner Scott McDougall sympathized with the community and called on the government to lift these laws.
“We appreciate that the Australian government has imposed these restrictions to protect vulnerable communities, in particular the Aborigines and the Torres Strait Islander peoples and, albeit urgently, with local communities and community-controlled health services about these restrictions consulted, “said McDougall.
‘Due to the constraints and hard work and discipline of many people who live and work in the designated areas, there have been no positive COVID-19 cases in any of Queensland’s indigenous communities – and this is a very commendable outcome, especially when we consider the devastation this virus causes internationally in First Nations populations.
Protests broke out in the community earlier this month because of frustrations at how “suppressive” coronavirus laws damaged their daily lives
“The lack of consistency between the restrictions imposed by the Commonwealth on designated indigenous communities and those imposed by the state on the rest of Queensland has caused significant frustration in some communities, including Palm Island and Yarrabah.”
He said restrictions on native communities on North Stradbroke Island eased from May 16.
Mr McDougall said he was pleased that Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said the laws were “actively” revised.
The Queensland government said it is slowly lifting restrictions in remote communities.
“The Queensland government is working with communities on a plan to enable phased and meticulous removal of biosafety restrictions in remote areas when safe,” their website said.
This will be done in a way that minimizes the risk of COVID-19 to remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“The timetable and restrictions may vary by community.”